Donna's Reviews > Room

Room by Emma Donoghue
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's review
Dec 27, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: ebook, contemporary-fiction, 2011-read, unputdownable
Read from September 05 to 11, 2011

I am an insomniac, and on long nights when I'm wide awake, I'll do silly chores like rearrange my bookshelves, physical and digital. I'll flip through the pages of certain books, reread passages I like, and put them back. One night I chose to open up Room, started reading somewhere in the middle, and before I knew it, an hour and 100 pages had gone by!

This book is, in a word, mesmerizing. I'm not sure what it is, the fascinating subject matter (a boy and his mother are imprisoned in a small room, but to him it's his whole world) or the engaging voice of the narrator. Emma Donoghue really does a wonderful job of speaking in the voice of a confused but intelligent five-year-old. I was completely absorbed by Jack's story. After I started the book from the beginning, a few days later, I was hooked and finished the book in record time.

I know there is criticism that the plot of the book has been "ripped from the headlines" and it is true. In the last few years, several horrific cases of confinement and incest have surfaced, the most nauseating of which was that of Josef Fritzl, a man who kidnapped and imprisoned his daughter for 24 years. Over that time, he impregnated her 8 times, with one pregnancy ending in miscarriage. I don't agree though, that this is a negative. Literature is meant for telling stories, whether they be real-life events or made up in the author's mind. Donoghue's inspiration may be more direct than than other authors', but that doesn't make Room any less compelling or relevant.

Donoghue took a risk in telling the story from a child's point of view, but I think it paid off. Not only do we learn the awful story of his mother's kidnapping and subsequent confinement, but we also have the opportunity to think about perception and what makes things real. Young Jack has never seen "outside" and thinks it to be fake or only on TV. Before his mother tells him about the world outside Room, he thinks that's all there is. It's amazing to read about Jack's natural childish curiosity as it is limited by the constraints of Room.

This is a powerful and interesting book. It made me think about the way I look at the world, at the Room I have created for myself.

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