Book Review: Room

Room / Emma Donoghue / Picador / 2011 / ISBN 9781509803156 / 401 pages / Fiction


Emma Donoghue is no stranger to writing and Room is a prime example of someone who knows their art. Room is a riveting story about a girl, who abducted at a young age, is forced to stay in a small room with only one skylight as she raises a baby. Not only is she stuck in this obsolete room, she also has to look after a child who is growing up and asking questions. To deal with this ‘Ma’ as she is referred to in the book, tells her child that the only things that exists in the world is the two of them and the room that they are in.

But then things change. Needing to leave, not wanting to be stuck under the confines of the man who abducted her – ‘Ma’ comes up with a plan to escape. She teachers her son and with all the love and care in the world, the two of them escape. But that is only half the battle. Room then delves into the reality of a girl who has been locked up for too long and missed out on a good portion of her adolescents and a kid that has never seen the outside world. Through sorrow, pain and undeniable strength Room captures the essence of how strong and far a mother’s love can reach for her child.

I loved this book to no end. I will admit that the inner writer in me was jealous at the sheer excellence that Donoghue shows in her writing, but the inner editor in me cringed, complained and couldn’t wrap my head around some bits of the text as it was written in I think broken English.

Donoghue doesn’t write the story from ‘Ma’s’ perspective, she writes it from Jack’s perspective, the 5 year old kid who has never seen anything outside the room he is confined in, because he doesn’t even know he is confined in it. I think it was bold and challenging to write it from the kid’s perspective, but I also think that with the section changes Donoghue could have changed the point of view, so the reader could see what the mother was thinking and not what the kid thought she was thinking.

The story is complex and interesting and makes you wonder what sort of a person can come up with so much stuff to entertain and protect their child. When they enter the real world, you can feel the tension and distress that Jack is feeling. I didn’t like that ‘Ma’ tried to end it all in the end, I think that showed weakness after years of strength. I know what she went through must have been life changing-ly difficult, but after reading the book and you get up to the section you think ‘after all of that you’re going to walk away from all of it and Jack?’

Room has now been turned into a movie starring Brie Larson and I cannot wait to see it because I want to know if Jack is going to be narrating it and how close they stick to the story. If you like drama with a bit of edge, I suggest giving Room ago and work through the childlike perspective.

I give it 4.3 out of 5 booky stars.

Stick around…


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Room

  1. It’s funny. I read it a while ago. I don’t remember that Ma tries to end it all in the end. But I do remember the way she invents a world to take care of Jack. I wonder what would have happened if we’d shifted points of view as you suggest. I’m always wary of the ‘wise child’ narrator, but I think Donoghue got Jack just right.


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