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Room: A Novel Paperback – May 18, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue's Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enter Room will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time. --Lynette Mong

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Five-year-old Jack and his Ma live and eat and play and sleep in one room--an 11×11-foot space that is their prison--captives of the terrifying man Jack calls Old Nick. But as Jack grows older and more curious, it becomes clear that the room will not be able to hold him and Ma forever. Michal Friedman shines as Jack; her narration is haunting and compelling in its every inflection and tone. The voice she creates for Jack is so convincing, listeners may even mistake her for an actual child. Her powerful performance is complemented by Robert Petcoff's sinister Old Nick, and Ellen Archer's portrayal of resourceful Ma, whose gentle voice is infused with patience, terror, and hope. The chemistry between the players creates a gem of an audiobook that will haunt listeners long after the story's end. A Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, July 12). (Sept.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (May 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316098329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316098328
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,030 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction whose novels include the bestselling "Slammerkin," "The Sealed Letter," "Landing," "Life Mask," "Hood," and "Stirfry." Her story collections are "The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits," "Kissing the Witch," and "Touchy Subjects." She also writes literary history, and plays for stage and radio. She lives in London, Ontario, with her partner and their two small children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,354 of 1,412 people found the following review helpful By K. Groh TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was a fan of Emma Donoghue since reading Slammerkin many years ago.

I started this book this morning and just put it down. I was glad it was a holiday and I had nowhere to go! I just couldn't stop going back to it until it was finished.

I was hooked upon reading the first paragraph, 'Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. "Was I minus numbers?"'

And the story of Jack and Ma begins. The entire story is told from the perspective of Jack, a just-turned five-year-old who is living in Room with his Ma. The only thing Jack has known is Ma and Room. His day is spent utilizing the few things they have, the songs and stories his Ma remembers and the five picture books he's had read to him over and over.

Imagine being a parent living in an 11 x 11 foot room for years, trying to survive while keeping your baby growing, safe and entertained. Imagine Jack, a child who has only ever known Ma (and the late night visits from 'Old Nick' who he only sees from his vantage point in a wardrobe). Life is good for him since he knows nothing else. Empty egg shells become a snake when threaded together, empty toilet rolls become a maze when taped together, Phys Ed is sometimes Track which goes around Bed from Wardrobe to Lamp.

For Jack, his days were filled with 'thousands of things to do'; for his mom, her days were filled with the knowledge of what was outside of Room before her captivity.

Two different perspectives, two ways of looking at life.
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902 of 958 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Room is based on an original, arresting, thought-provoking premise. It's narrated by a five year old boy (Jack), who has spent his entire life living inside a small room where he and his mother are held prisoner. If you want to read the book knowing no more of the plot than that, skip to the next paragraph. His mother was abducted at the age of 19 and has been repeatedly raped: Jack being born some 2 years later. Jack's mother is frequently depressed and desperate to escape. However she has protected Jack from the realities of their situation and one of the book's central ideas is that when you know no better, you always think the world that you live in is normal and it will still represent home to you.

Having a child narrate the book is very clever in many ways. Jack is oblivious to the heroic efforts that his mother makes to protect and entertain him, but these are obvious to the reader. However he never really worked as a narrator for me. He starts the book speaking in quite broken english but quickly leaves that affectation behind. I realize that he was meant to be a highly developed child in some areas while very behind in others. But I couldn't reconcile a child who knew words like omnivore, nutritional and antenna and then at other times would describe something as "the hurtest". The first time he sees his mother vomiting he describes it as "stuff falling out of her mouth like spit but much thicker", but next moment he's calling it vomit and using the word freely from then on. All these inconsistencies kept interrupting the flow of the book for me. There were also times when I would like to have been given a better insight into the reasons for his mother's actions, which the choice of narrator made impossible.
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271 of 300 people found the following review helpful By A real pageturner on March 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My three-star rating is an average, based on five stars for the story and one star for the way the story is told.

The premise of the story is fascinating (disturbing, but fascinating if you can get past the disturbing part), and the way Donoghue has imagined herself into the minds of people to whom the unimaginable has happened is truly remarkable.

However, I found the voice of the 5-year-old first-person narrator incredibly annoying. The use of that voice might have been interesting if Donoghue had done it for a chapter or two -- or maybe alternated the child's voice with the mother's voice -- but over the course of an entire novel, the ceaseless childish voice came to have the effect on me of chalk on a blackboard. (And no, I don't hate children; I find many of them delightful, I just don't think they should be narrating novels for adults.)

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, I've written a paragraph in which I've tried to imitate the style in which the book is written. If you can get through the paragraph without wanting to throw something at your computer, then by all means read the book; if you can't, then maybe you should think twice about reading the book.

Why nobody warned me about the awful of reading a story telled by a 5-year-old child? If I'd knowed, I would have putted Book back on Shelf and runned away, hippity-hop like the Runaway Bunny. Silly Me, I readed all of Book because lots of people telled me about the good of it, so I thinked it would get better in a little bit. No way Jose, Book just goed on and on like this for 321 excruciating pages. I know what excruciating means because that's what Ma says it feels like when Tooth hurts really bad, and after reading this book I knowed what she meaned. Why Emma Donoghue made this choice? I've readed lots of books else by her, but Room is my worst favorite of all the books she writed.
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