John's Reviews > Room

Room by Emma Donoghue
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's review
Mar 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-literature
Read in March, 2011

This is one of those books that leads me to wonder, on reflection, at the fact that the author actually managed to pull it off. The story, which echoes several news items of recent years (Jaycee Dugard in the U.S., Josef Fritzl in Austria), centers on a woman who has been kidnapped and held prisoner for a number of years, during which time she has had a child. The tricky part is that it is told from the perspective of that child, Jack, who has turned 5 as the book opens and never known any other place in the world beyond the Room he shares with his mother, and which he loves and finds comforting. So: a book written in the voice of a child who is the product of rape and knows only captivity, yet is basically happy, or at least content -- this has the capacity to go so very, very wrong. But it does absolutely everything right, from Jack's voice to a narrative that is harrowing without being exploitative to the author's extraordinary sense of both observation and imagination. Not always an easy read, but I can't remember the last book I read this compulsively; it's an extraordinary work of storytelling, and Jack in particular is as indelible character as I've come across in ages. Well-deserving of all the praise heaped upon it.
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