Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ROOM by Emma Donoghue


A young boy spends the first five years of his life in a single room with his mother, and then they escape.


This is an enthralling book about a fictional woman who spends eight years imprisoned in a shed. For five of those years she raises her son Jack. Their entire world consists of four walls, necessities, and the visits of Old Nick, their captor. Despite the dark nature of their situation, this book contains powerful moments of hope and light.

Jack narrates the story in a voice that is both innocent and precocious. Donoghue artfully shows us this small world through the eyes of a child, while still communicating the desperation and determination of his young mother. Ma emerges as a very real and powerful character, and I felt that this is really her story, even though Jack is technically the main character.

Everything in the world except for Room is not real or "TV" to Jack. When he learns the truth he has to figure out how to live in a world that he believed did not exist. In the second half of the book, Jack tells us about his first interractions with the outside world: family, space, speech with people that are not his mother, etc. Ma's decision not to tell Jack that the outside world is real raises thought-provoking questions about our perceptions of reality.


Author's website: Emma Donoghue


Kindle edition $11.99


On what do you base your ideas about what is real and what is not?

*Note: This author will be featured in the Hong Kong International Literary Festival from March 8-18.


  1. Some say that reality does not exist, it is all perception of reality. The more I think about it the more I see their point.

    I liked Room, but not as much as other bloggers. Here are my thoughts http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=820

  2. Nice review, Shannon (one of the most concise I've read!). For me, the best part of Room was actually being in the room. It was like another world, where everything is in short supply. I liked being there in the story and being reminded how important it is to appreciate every small gift we have in our lives.

  3. Good review :) I've got this one sat in my TBR pile waiting to be read. I really should get around to it soon.

  4. I'm still trying to decide whether or not to add this to my TBR. Everyone seems to have read this lately but I don't usually like bandwagoning, haha.

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone. Despite being a simple story, this book was beautiful in that it makes you think. It definitely had me thinking about the way I perceive the space around me.

    It's a quick read too, and easily worth spending a free afternoon or two on it.

  6. I thought Room was so interesting, especially from the perspective of what it reveals about socialization...what would your world view be like if you grew up this way and how quickly would you be able to adjust when it changed radically? It's very Plato's cave-ish. I'm a new follower. Enjoy the literary festival. Sounds great.

  7. I read the Kindle edition too but paid about $5 for it. They've really hiked up the prices!

    Now following. ^^


  8. I thought it a good quick read but not of the usual Man Booker shortlist quality. I agree with Robyn; the boy's life was like those in Plato's Cave. Donoghue seemed to me to get right inside the head of a 5 yr old boy

  9. Thanks for your comments. I like the Plato's Cave analogy. Jack didn't seem that different from other five year old boys. Perhaps our perception of the outside world is actually more limited at that age than we realize.

    There's a great review of this book over at http://kathmeista.blogspot.com/2011/01/room-by-emma-donoghue-review.html

  10. Great Review. 'Room' is one of the best books I've read in a while, the characters are well formed and the language is superb.

    In answer to your question, I think that your perception of what is real/not real in the world, is based upon our life experiences. For example, Jack's knowledge is only based upon what he sees within 'Room', therefore it is more limited to a child of the same age, who isn't confined. Therefore I think that this book reflects a child's exposure to the outside world, even though Jack's experience is extreme.

  11. This is the first book I've read since "The Help" where I can't get the characters out of my mind. Others have laid out the basic premise well, so I'll just say that I really cared what happened to Ma and Jack. This is an excellent read and should be embraced by book clubs around the country.


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