ROOM by Emma Donoghue

Jack is 5.  He lives with his ma and he loves to sit at TABLE and play games using RUG.  He sleeps in WARDROBE and spends hours of time with his ma every day.  Jack loves his life. To his mother, it is a nightmare.

What makes Jack different from all other five years olds is that he has spent his entire life in a single room having never see anything beyond and not even knowing that anything exists beyond the room.  Jack’s mom was abducted when she was 19 and has been kept locked in this room for the past 7 years.   Told from the perspective of 5-year-old Jack, we experience his life through his eyes.  He likes his routines and he enjoys how they make up games using paper bags or string.  He hides when Old Nick comes to visit at night.

But things are about to change.

ROOM is an extraordinary read.  I stepped into a read like no other I have read.  It took a few pages to get into the way Jack talks, and to fully get the understanding of his world, but once there, I could hardly put the book down.  What impressed me throughout this book was the devotion of Jack’s mother.  Everything is for Jack and what that brings out in this read is a mother and son relationship that many of us would envy.  Jack is smart because ma has all day to teach him words, and spelling, and meanings.  When Jack asks questions about what he sees on tv, ma has all the time in the world (quite literally) to explain to him.

What an amazing world Emma Donoghue created within these pages.  I was astounded at the great detail of Jack’s character.  It wasn’t hard for me to imagine five-year old Jack being so smart because of all the access he had to be taught.  While this book is a fiction read I could not help but think about the real abductions that happen in this world, and stories like Ma and Jack;s that are sadly true.

I would say this book is one of the best books I have read this year and would highly recommend that you take the time to read this powerful that at times made me laugh, and eventually…. made me cry. has a layout of what ROOM would look like.  Take a look and now imagine Ma in this room (and only in this room) for seven years and Jack for his entire life (yes, he was born in there too – on RUG).

I am going to activate the Spoiler Page for this read (see button below) as there was one part that disturbed me a little even though I worked hard to wrap my mind around it.  A few bookish friends have also requested discussing the book in detail once I had read it so the spoiler page will be a safe place to do that.

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is  an award-winning Booker-shortlisted writer, now living in Canada with my family. Her books are ROOM, THE SEALED LETTER, LANDING, TOUCHY SUBJECTS, LIFE MASK, THE WOMAN WHO GAVE BIRTH TO RABBITS, SLAMMERKIN, KISSING THE WITCH, HOOD, STIRFRY (fiction), as well as INSEPARABLE, WE ARE MICHAEL FIELD, POEMS BETWEEN WOMEN and PASSIONS BETWEEN WOMEN (literary history).

Peter Carey, Emma Donoghue, Damon Galgut, Howard Jacobson, Andrea Levy and Tom McCarthy are today, Tuesday 7 September, announced as the six shortlisted authors for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. For over four decades the prize – the leading literary award in the English speaking world – has brought recognition, reward and readership to the outstanding new novels of the year. The shortlist was announced by Chair of judges, Sir Andrew Motion, at a press conference held at Man’s London headquarters.

The six books, selected from the Man Booker Prize longlist of 13, are:

Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)

Emma Donoghue Room (Picador – Pan Macmillan)

Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Atlantic Books – Grove Atlantic)

Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)

Andrea Levy The Long Song (Headline Review –
Headline Publishing Group)

Tom McCarthy C (Jonathan Cape – Random House)

Book Journey has updated the 2010 reading map to include ROOM

Cover Story:  It works.  Its plain and simple and makes me want to know more about a book with this cover and this title.

Amazon Rating

My author chat with Emma Donoghue

I received this book for review in New York at BEA in May 2010

37 thoughts on “ROOM by Emma Donoghue

  1. I’m glad you found this book (this was the LOST book, wasn’t it?). I would hate to be reading along and really caught up, only to have the book GONE.

    Sort of like my MISSING PIECES book, which I’m still waiting for….

  2. This one is on my Wish List. I have heard a lot of good things about it and it’s powerful storyline. I can’t imagine what some people that have been abducted must go through and to put a child in the middle of that.

    I look forward to reading it.

    Great review!

    1. Deb it really is a book that makes you think about abduction and the horrors of this world. While a fiction read, I am certain that there are cases in reality that hit pretty close to what this book is.

  3. I’m both excited and a little apprehensive to start this one — it sounds great and incredibly moving, but the whole “crying” thing concerns me! I don’t know how I could read a book like this and not be disturbed and crying. Eek!

    1. LOL Meg – it wasn’t really a sad cry…. I don’t want to give anything away but I would say it was more of a touching cry. 🙂

      I was a little apprehensive going in too Meg…. I wasn’t sure what this book could be about especially when people kept emailing me and saying they couldn’t wait until I read this and they would be really interested in what I thought….

      I started to think “what is in this book????”

  4. Great review Sheila. It sounds like a must read. I guess you did put the book down long enough to misplace it…oops! 🙂

  5. I haven’t heard too much about this one, other than it being lost the other day! 😉 I’ll definitely be adding it to my wishlist/to read list. LOVE your review of it! It sounds quite thought-provoking!

  6. I had not yet heard about this book. It sounds most fascinating. The most heart rending part of the story’s premise is that it is the true plight of unknown numbers of people. I have avoided the spoiler section because I want to read this book with nothing to color my reaction too it.
    Thanks for bringing this book to our attention.

    1. Good Pat – you do not want to go into the spoiler area… we have a great discussion going there for those who have read the book…. join us later Pat once you have read it. 🙂

  7. Sheila, I ammended my post to include a link to your review because I love your Spoiler Button page 🙂

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