Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kelly's Review: ROOM

By Emma Donoghue

Published by: Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group,
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
First Printing: September 2010
ISBN: 978-0-316-09833-5
Amazon; Barnes and Noble; Goodreads

Concept: “It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack’s imagination – the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe blow Ma’s clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held since she was nineteen – for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack’s curiosity is building alongside her own desperation – and she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Told in the poignant and funny voice of Jack, Room is a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child. It is a shocking, exhilarating and riveting novel – but always deeply human and always moving. Room is a place you will never forget.” [From cover sleeve.]

Review: In this world of Jaycee Dugard horrific tales, along comes Room which is fiction but honestly might as well have been written about Jaycee. Told from five year old Jack’s perspective, this story really will be one you will never forget. Jack’s mother has been kidnapped as a teenager and locked into a soundproof 11x11 foot room in a backyard. She has endured repeated rapes and as a result has had two pregnancies. One ended with the death of Jack’s baby sister. “Ma” raises Jack in this room, doing her best to teach him while giving him some sort of life. But it becomes more evident to her as each day passes that she is going to have to do something to save herself and her precious Jack. Together, they work out a plan and Jack does indeed save both of them with an account that will literally have you holding your breath.

The struggle from there to enter a world Jack has never lived in, to be introduced to relatives he never knew he had, indeed just meeting people other than his mother and the monster that held them hostage is part of the story as well. It’s a sad and uniquely interesting story and of course all the way through it, you are pulling for Jack and his mother with an intensity that may surprise you. There are times when you laugh at Jack’s antics and his attempts at understanding the world around him, and there are times when you just sit back and thank your lucky stars that you have some of the simple things in life that we take for granted.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget this story and my mind will return to it frequently I am sure. This was an unusual book in that I’m not sure if it was entertaining or exactly what level it was on, but it was a book that was well worth reading and one I would highly recommend to anyone.

What I liked: Somehow, at the end I was wondering to myself how this would end because Jack’s curiosity could continue forever. But the ending was sublime -- true literary perfection. It easily took me to an ending that I was comfortable with and I was able to close the book and know that Jack and his mother would be okay.

What I disliked: At times, Jack’s English got to me. Even though I understand that he has been locked away in this room, I still didn’t like how “the bed” became “bed” and “the wardrobe” became “wardrobe.” I had to keep reminding myself that these items weren’t simple nouns. They became destinations to Jack. But still, it was annoying at times.

My rating: 5 feathers

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Jo K said...

I have to put this on my to-read list, it sounds gripping and pristine. Great review!

Shoshanah said...

I've been really looking forward to picking this one up. It just sounds like such a heartbreaking book.

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