Monday, October 4, 2010

Review: Room

Summary: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another. -- Little, Brown


I feel like I'm one of the last people in the book blogosphere to actually read ROOM by Emma Donoghue. I have been anxious to read it ever since I heard about it at the BEA Editor's Buzz panel, and I'm so happy to say that I finally got around to reading it -- you know how that goes! Unfortunately, since there have already been so many raving reviews about ROOM, I feel like I'm a little late to the game. Having said that, you know I can't let a book this good go by without saying, at least, a few words!

Let me start with this -- I adored this book! It's no wonder that ROOM was shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize. I loved the entire concept for this novel -- a five year old boy and his mother are being held captive in a "room." What I even appreciated more is that Ms. Donoghue wrote the entire story from the eyes of the five year old boy Jack. I thought it was just a brilliant idea; however, I wasn't quite sure how (or even if) she could pull it off.

I think it's pretty obvious by now that I definitely think Ms. Donoghue managed to accomplish what she set out to do with this novel. Somehow, she managed to capture the essence of a five year old boy perfectly. What she did with his speech and his thoughts were incredible as far as I was concerned. But, I admit that it did take me a few chapters to really appreciate Jack's narrative. I found it a little difficult to follow at first; however, once I adapted, I fell in love with Jack and his brilliant insights into his world.

And what can I really say about Jack except that I thought he was a wonderful character -- truly unlike any I've ever come across in fiction. Since Jack had never been outside of the "room," his world was extremely small and limited. Yet despite this sheltered existence, Jack's mother tried to create an entire world for Jack within the parameters of this room. In some ways, I was amazed by his innocence while at other times, I was shocked by his wisdom. Jack was such a complex five year old boy and I found his to be truly amazing.

ROOM is one of those books that is best read knowing little about the story -- it just needs to be experienced. What I will say is that I was captivated with Jack and his mother's story, and I loved being "inside" the room with them. As a mother, I think I was especially touched by the depth of this novel. I can think of few books that I've read that explore the extent of a mother's love like this one. I guarantee that you cannot read ROOM without being deeply affected by Jack and his mother's story as well as their relationship with other.

And if you are looking for a fantastic discussion book for your next book club, then I highly recommend ROOM. I know my book club would love this book (even though it is difficult to read at some points); and as mothers, I think we would especially appreciate it. There is a reading guide available which actually brings up many of the same questions I asked myself while reading this book. It's funny, but as I read over these questions, it reminded me of how much I want to talk about Jack and his experiences. Some of the topics for discussion include parent/child relationships, honesty, long-term confinement, survival, and adaptation.

ROOM is actually the first book that I've ever read by Emma Donoghue, but I guarantee it won't be my last. (I have SLAMMERKIN on my bookshelves, and my friend has highly recommended it to me.) I can't rave enough about this book. ROOM is such an original and unique novel and I highly recommend it!

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher at BEA.

10 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Well, you're not the last - I haven't posted my review yet. I agree that this book is very well done, although it did take me a little while to get used to Jack's voice. Did I tell you that I got to meet Emma Donoghue? Yes, I'm trying to rub it in.

caite said...

no...I agree with Kathy,because I have not posted my review yet either...lol

Beth Kephart said...

I read ROOM and blogged some thoughts but what I really love here in your wonderful review is learning about this reader's guide. I am starting to study this sub-class of texts, and I'm fascinated by this one. So thank you!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I don't even have it, much less not reviewed it yet! So you are far from the last. I am really interested in reading it though.

Beth Hoffman said...

Terrific review, Julie! This book is on my ever-growing list.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

LOL! "I have to say a few words" ... no worries about being late to the game with ROOM, Julie, it sounds like all the buzz is worth those extra words!

I have yet to read it; I was a little worried about the mother in me being too afraid for Jack, but it seems like his voice is strong, not scared (does that make sense?)

justpeachy36 said...

I haven't read this one yet, but I've heard that it is a really riveting and powerful book.

I'm looking forward to picking it up soon...

Meg said...

Oh, Room -- you're right, this novel seems to be everywhere! I'm really looking forward to reading it and hope I won't be too creeped out by the premise. Sounds like I'm in for a treat, though! :)

Michelle (my books. my life.) said...

I have this one from the library right now. Hoping to get to it quickly.

reviewsbylola said...

I just reviewed this one today--I loved it! I hadn't considered suggesting this one to my bookclub but I bet they would love it!