Jennifer's Reviews > Room

Room by Emma Donoghue
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's review
Sep 12, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2010
Recommended to Jennifer by: Powell's Daily Dose
Recommended for: anyone interested in child development

I tried really hard to not think of the Jenny Lewis song featuring Jack and Ma as I read this novel but Emma Donoghue's story grabbed me both with its powerful narrator, five-year-old Jack, and its opening premise. All Jack knows is the Room where he and Ma live--his only contact with the outside world is through a skylight in the ceiling. The glimpses of the world outside that he sees on TV (only a few hours a day or otherwise it wlll rot his brain) are not "real." For young Jack, this situation is not a bad one. He loves his ma fiercely, sees inanimate objects like spoons and snakes made out of egg shells as real, and like any five year old, is enamored with Dora the Explorer and Dylan the Digger. At night sometimes, Old Nick comes and visits his mother but Jack is supposed to stay quiet and hidden. Old Nick also brings food and the occasional Sundaytreat when he comes through The Door with The Keypad. As the reader begins to understand the nature of Jack and Ma's imprisonment, the horror grows but also admiration for how Ma has tried to build a life for her son. However, Ma is worried that things cannot continue the way they are as Jack becomes more and more curious and less easy to hide.

I remember being blown away by an earlier Donoghue novel (about prostitution in 18th century London) and this one worked in a similar way. I will not forget Jack or this novel anytime soon.

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