Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Received from publisher for review
Publication Date: 13 Sept 2010
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Emma Donoghue – Blog
Emma Donoghue – Twitter
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First Line: Today I’m five.
I first started to hear about Room by Emma Donoghue during Book Expo America in May 2010. It seemed that everyone was talking about it and I was sad not to have been able to pick up a copy for myself. So when I got one in the mail later on that summer for review I was very excited. The book has a unique concept in which the story is told from the point of view of 5 year old Jack. What makes Jack so unique is that his first 5 years have been spent in a room the size of a garden shed with his mother. As details of the story unfold you learn that Jack’s Ma was kidnapped 7 years earlier and held prisoner ever since. Room is a story that is at once a heartbreaking story and one that is filled with hope and promise for a better life. Ma manages to create a whole world for Jack and for the most part he is a healthy and well adjusted child. When you learn of the things that Ma has done for Jack to ensure that his childhood is as normal as possible your heart breaks for her.
I’ve heard criticism of this story on Twitter and GoodReads about how this story becomes less original and less good because it was based on something that actually happened to a girl in Austria. To me, it makes the story all the more tragic because its one thing to think of the events in the book as fiction. Its all the more difficult to sit in the comfort of your living room and know that someone out there actually lived something similar. Real events inspire books all the time and so I don’t understand the comments that I have read over the internet that say it makes Room less of a story because Emma Donaghue didn’t make up the story. Donaghue could have gone for a retelling of the events that happened in Austria but she didn’t. Instead she took this horrible and unimaginable act and turned it into her own story.
What I did have trouble with when it came to Room was that Jack was the sole narrator. I understand when Donaghue chose this path but because of it there were several instances in which Jack was far more aware and intuitive than he should have been. For me this book because a little weaker because of these moments as they jolted me out of the false reality that Donaghue had created. I think that the book may have been better if a 3rd person option was used or multiple viewpoints to tell the full story. That said though Room was a quick read and I managed to read large chunks of it in just a few sittings. I really enjoyed Room and have found myself recommending it to others since reading it. Its a story that has stayed with me and made me wonder what I might do if I found myself in that situation. I am not sure that I would be as strong as Ma. Ma is such a strong character and she was a source of love and strength for Jack. She held it together in a situation that was have seriously broken many. Room was my first book by Emma Donaghue but I don’t think it will be my last. Have you read anything else by Donaghue? What book by her should I look into next?