REVIEW: Room by Emma Donoghue

RoomRating: 3 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction, Pages: 321, Level: Easy

Book Description:

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

This review contains spoilers.

I have procrastinated writing this review because I go back and forth on whether or not I like it. In addition, I can’t decide if I think it is a two star or three star book. I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt and go with three, but I will be completely honest about what I did not like.

The first half of Room takes place in the room in which Ma and her 5 year old son live. Ma was kidnapped 7 years before the events of this story and has been kept prisoner by Old Nick. The second half of Room takes place once Ma and Jack have escaped and have to adjust to life outside the room.

I thought the first half of the book was boring. I kept trying to convince myself that it was deliberate on the part of Donoghue because spending every second of every day in one room for seven years has got to be boring. Unfortunately, there’s only so much boring I can take before I want to call it quits. I didn’t quit because a book has to be really REALLY bad for me to put it down unfinished, otherwise I feel guilty. Also, I wanted to read about the adjustment period once they escaped.

I don’t buy the escape plan. First, a five year old had to remember a sequence of events- stay very still rolled up inside a blanket, when you hear the truck start and begin to move, wriggle out of the carpet, when the truck stops at a stop sign, jump out of the truck and run to the nearest adult or house with a light on, tell them that you were kidnapped. Remember, this is a kid who has never been outside of one room. He thought TV was imaginary and there was no outside. And then suddenly, he is the key participant in an escape attempt that he was trained for in one day. I don’t buy it.

As mentioned above, I thought the second half of Room was better. It was interesting to see how Jack adjusted to living outside and what things bothered him, things that to the rest of us seem insignificant, or that we take for granted.

All in all, Rom wasn’t a waste of time. I’m glad I read it. However I can’t bring myself to give it a warm and enthusiastic recommendation.

Reviewed by Christina
May 27, 2014

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