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Room: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 13, 2010
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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 10 x 10 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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
how this book nurtured my soul. As Jack developed so did I and it made me grateful for things I take for granted.Published 6 hours ago by Gusmar
It was really good. I did not particularly like the way it ended. I thought it was too abrupt and I thought there was more story to tell.Published 1 day ago by Madison
This was a wonderful book. Couldn't put it down. Now I can't wait to see the movie.Published 1 day ago by Jim
Pretty good book, It was written as a real event, but was hard to believe parts of it. I was constantly questioning what I was reading.Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
I almost put it down after the first few chapters. The subject matter was difficult for me to read. But I kept going and I was hooked!!!!Published 1 day ago by Lindsey Gardner
It's hard to say that you "enjoyed" a book this intense. It was a tough read but really well done. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Maura Donley