Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book 33: Room by Emma Donoghue

This book has been reviewed so many times now that I’m sure I won’t be adding anything new.  I enjoyed it but I don’t think that I can read it again—it was a little too intense for me.  I am going to spoil major parts of the book, so if you haven’t read it, you probably shouldn’t read this review.

Jack is five years old and lives with his Ma in Room.  Jack and Ma never leave Room, which is an 11 by 11 feet space with a bathroom, kitchen, wardrobe, bed, and TV.  Ma was kidnapped seven years before by Old Nick, who comes to visit at night when Jack is asleep in Wardrobe.  Ma tries to make as normal a life as possible for Jack in Room by reading to him, exercising, playing, etc.  But when Ma finds out that Old Nick has lost his job, she becomes more determined to get out of Room.  Jack is confused by the idea of leaving Room—there is nothing outside of Room, Ma is making up scary stories.  But Jack wants to make Ma happy and that involves leaving his world.

The book at its most intense with the lead up to escape, but was most compelling for me when Jack and Ma finally get out of Room and try to adjust to the world.  There were extensive medical and psychiatric treatments that Ma and Jack have to go through before they can find their own place.  Ma’s family had been torn apart by her disappearance and were shocked when she resurfaced.  It takes a while for the family to adjust, all while being scrutinized by the media. 

Jack narrates the entire book and I can see why this would frustrate some of the other readers, but I thought it made the book even more interesting.  He has his whole world turned upside down and it would not have had the same impact with another narrator.  Overall, it was a very interesting book that I would recommend to some of my friends, certainly not all of them.  It is not the type of book that everyone would enjoy but it is certainly interesting and I will definitely look out for Donoghue’s books in the future.

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