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Room Paperback – May 18, 2011
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"I loved Room. Such incredible imagination, and dazzling use of language. And with all this, an entirely credible, endearing little boy. It's unlike anything I've ever read before."―Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife and A Change in Altitude
"Room is that rarest of entities, an entirely original work of art. I mean it as the highest possible praise when I tell you that I can't compare it to any other book. Suffice to say that it's potent, darkly beautiful, and revelatory."―Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours and By Nightfall
"Only a handful of authors have ever known how to get inside the mind of a child and then get what they know on paper. Henry James, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and, more recently, Jean Stafford and Eric Kraft come to mind, and after that one gropes for names. But now they have company. Emma Donoghue's latest novel, Room, is narrated by a 5-year-old boy so real you could swear he was sitting right beside you.... Room is so beautifully contrived that it never once seems contrived. But be warned: once you enter, you'll be Donoghue's willing prisoner right down to the last page."―Malcolm Jones, Newsweek
"A riveting, powerful novel.... Donoghue's inventive storytelling is flawless and absorbing. She has a fantastic ability to build tension in scenes where most of the action takes place in the 12-by-12 room where her central characters reside. Her writing has pulse-pounding sequences that cause the reader's eyes to race over the pages to find out what happens next.... Room is likely to haunt readers for days, if not longer. It is, hands down, one of the best books of the year."―Liz Raftery, The Boston Globe
About the Author
She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (Frog Music, Slammerkin, Life Mask, Landing, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Akin, Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes.
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This story is heavy, intense, and remarkable. It tells the story of 5 year old Jack and his Ma, who are trapped inside of an 11x11 ft room. It is told in Jack's point of view, and how he is learning about the world outside, which he doesn't believe is real.
There is so much more detail that I could go into for a summary of this amazing novel, but I don't want to give anything away. I read ROOM over a course of two days, staying up very late at night to finish the last couple of pages. ROOM is now my favorite book of all time, and if you are wanting to read an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that deals with a heavy topic, ROOM is definitely the one for you
WARNINGS: This book deals with kidnapping, sexual assault, and depression. Foul language and mature themes are explicitly used throughout this novel
Boy am I glad I listened and I did. Initially I was so turned off by the writing from Jack's perspective, and some of the topics he repetitively talked about, that I just about stopped reading the book. However, just as I was about to give up - the plot sucked me in and I was suddenly not bothered at all.
Being someone who doesn't want to ruin books for others who may read it later, I will say this about this book...it's an awesome example of the Mother's bond with a child and her personal perseverance through all she endured was inspiring.
This book ran me through a wide range of emotions - laughing, crying, disgust, anger ( in the form of me screaming out on break at my work, No &$@!ing way!), and finally admiration.
I felt personally invested in their lives and felt the tightness of their ROOM. That alone says to me that it's a great book. The only reason that I didn't give it five stars was because I wanted a little more, I wanted to know more of the ending for the main characters. I needed more then the final scene, I wanted justice to be given! The writer chose to end it the story the way she did, and I respect that. But... I still chose to withhold my 5th star! I still would highly recommend this book and I am so looking forward to checking out the movie!
But every once in a while there comes a book that’s so breathtaking that I feel I have no choice but to shout it to the rooftops! This is one of those books.
This book is brilliantly constructed. The story and the characters kept me riveted.The story is a difficult one, but our narrator-a five-year-old boy-tells it completely and with unflinching honesty. I was completely convinced I was hearing the story from an actual five-year-old boy! If this doesn’t impress you, I urge you to try to write a story from a young child’s perspective and in their own words.
Good luck with that.
Mrs. Donoghue is a rare talent in a world filled with mediocre authors and their books. The story is a true gem and one that will stay with me my entire life. The book is not so much about whether you can predict how it will end: It’s all about seeing the world from an age we can’t remember. This, in itself, is a gift.
And speaking of gifts, Mrs. Donoghue has given those in spades when it comes to literature, which has been bereft of great storytellers for many decades.
Top international reviews
But, I was glued to the book, it was mother apart from limited one of those I couldn’t put aside and while Jack’s narration probably isn’t a true reflection of how any child, even one whose whole vocabulary comes from another adult, it was pitched at a level to remind us he is a child, at a level so that whilst the innocence shone through but without compromising the telling of a story.
We get an idea of how Jack’s mum didn’t give up, she threw the whole of her energy into entertaining, nurturing and teaching Jack with limited resources, just five book and a TV for outside stimulation, everything else had to be invention on her part. There are physical education lessons which involve racing round the bed, all sixteen of Jack’s steps and using the bed to put on trampoline routines. She imposes strict routines for meals, for chores and for bedtime where Jack sleeps in the wardrobe to be out of sight if ‘Old Nick’ comes to visit. It is this, the sheer resilience of this young woman, only twenty-six at the point we enter the story, that prevents this from being a misery-fest and turns it into something quite special indeed.
Because Jack’s life is so narrow it would be very easy for the story to be repetitive and as fun as his musings over Dora the Explorer and Barney are, I’m pleased to confirm that the story has far more to offer than I initially expected. Through Jack’s eyes, and ears, we get to see how the pair ended up in the room in the first place allowing the reader to plug the gaps which may not completely take away the horror of the story unfolding but makes it a tad more bearable than if this had been told by the mother.
For me it was the latter chapters that had the most impact and gives rise to some of the important questions that perhaps aren’t easily answered. On Jack’s fifth birthday he is told by his mother that the life on the TV exists outside his room. There is far more than the slither of sky and moon he can see through the skylight if they stand on the table. The world is big, there are other people than the two he knows about and yet he struggles with the concept and questions things in a way a child born into a life which isn’t behind a locked door would never do.
Heart-rending and yet uplifting, Room is one of those books I think I’ll struggle to forget, so mesmerising is the tale, so appealing is its narrator and so horrifying a premise to dwell upon, I now understand why this book caused the stir it did when it was published in 2010.
As everyone except me now knows, it is about a woman locked in a room somewhere in North America with her five year old kid. The narrator’s voice is that of the five year old. Everything is seen through his eyes. His life is boring, stunted, deprived obviously and his narration is taken up with the endless repetition of mundane daily tasks: eating, reading and re-reading the same five books, television, games and exercises. All in a room eleven ft square. So it pretty quickly becomes a boring, repetitive book; there are only so many childhood thoughts to interest the reader.
He is precocious. His mum teaches him to read and write way beyond his age-level and of course this would be a likely outcome of an intense one-on-one relationship between an intelligent young woman and a bright kid where there are no other distractions. In fact knowing no other life the kid Jack, is full of five-year old curiosity. A bit too much for me and the voice became irritating ‘Wonderland’ about a third of the way through particularly set my teeth on edge and the whole thing is too long.
But there are some brilliant set-pieces in it. Old Nick’s little speech on how lucky they are is a terrific piece of writing; parking Ma is very, very clever although the reasons for the parking don’t ring true at all; the escape is good, some reviewers have a problem with it but she [ED] could have done this in twenty different ways so what does it matter. Jack is oblivious to the heroic efforts that his mother makes to protect and entertain him, but these are obvious to the reader; you still think the world that you live in is normal and it will always represent home to you.
Also, I loved the way that no-one ever says, ‘I love you’. Most excellent.
I hadn’t realised that Emma Donoghue specialises in writing novels using real lives and real stories as source material. She researches, then writes her version. In interviews, she says that it wasn’t the confinement story that interested her it was the later adjustment to the outside world she wanted to engage with and in fact the novel is very clearly divided in two, the capture and imprisonment then the release and the adjustment.
Just a bit too long. I can see what she is doing, building, building, building showing not telling but it goes on for too long.
To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....
Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience - and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.
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.
I did find the detailed life of one day in the room very claustrophobic and felt the horror of thousands of days languishing in its four walls. I would have preferred the Mother's voice to take over when they got out because the rest of the book was more tedium from the child's perspective predictably trying to understand his new world using adult language.
Freak Out!: My Life With Frank Zappa
Room is told from the perspective of Jack, a five year old boy who lives with Ma in Room. Room is an eleven foot square windowless box, but to Jack, Room is the whole world. Tv isn’t real, and outside isn’t real, Jack knows this. Then Ma tells Jack the truth, about outside, about her home, and asks him to do something that will change both of their lives forever, to escape Room.
This book was a really thought-provoking read for me. I think the decision to have it set from Jacks perspective was ingenious as it added a new element to the story, him questioning his surroundings, his relationships and everything he knew, or thought he knew about the world. The relationship between him and Ma was really well depicted, presenting a loving mother and doting son, but also the strain that being in each others constant company caused them.
The one thing I disliked about this book was the way I connected to the characters. Of course I was drawn into their story and I wanted them to escape and have a better life, but I didn’t particularly “like” the characters, or feel any intense emotions or empathy towards them throughout the whole book. I think that the story and the narration of this novel were brilliantly done and for that reason I would recommend it to others, however due to my personal experience with it I don’t think it’s a novel I would go back and read again.
The child is so cute and smart, but a five year’s voice can be trying, I yearned for an adult perspective, which eventually came.
However, I would not argue, as some here have done, with how ‘real’ the young boy sounds. To me, this was handled very well, we know children differ, five year olds particularly, there’s no ‘norm’, thankfully, and to expect one is naive.
Over all, I found this a courageous and interesting novel. For fans of psychological novels, I’d suggest reading On the Edge of the Loch first, then this one.
I found it really hard to get sucked in to begin with, the 5 year old narrator was kind of annoying to begin with, especially when the 5 year old didn't understand a lot of things, I think I would have preferred Ma's perspective. BUT, having said that, after about 60 pages in I was more used to the narration and started to enjoy it. I wouldn't say I was more emotionally involved with the book as I was with the film but I still immensely enjoyed it as it felt like quite a unique story (although I watched a documentary about Josef Fritzl and I feel maybe there's some similarities there, did the author get some idea from there?).
Glad I read it, fascinating story with characters that will stay with you a good long while afterwards.
The reviews I'd read for this Richard and Judy recommended book had been gushing. After finishing it I'm left wondering why? Yes it was an ok read, but nothing out of this world. In fact by the middle of the book I confess to beginning to get very bored by it all. Endless descriptions of how Jack and his mum fill their days in confinement, especially narrated by Jack in naive childspeak, are inevitably going to be boring? After all nothing very exciting CAN happen can it! Maybe the length of this first section is a device by Emma Donoghue to emphasise the tedium of solitary confinement then? Anyway, thank goodness for a bit of excitement in the middle of the book when Plan B to escape from Room plays out. I was on the edge of my seat and was rooting for Jack all the way, so Donoghue must have done something right in filling out her characters and making the reader empathise with them.
Unfortunately after escaping, the book dulls down again. There isn't enough made of Jack's wonder at the outside world. There is also much of interest missing from this book, because Donoghue chose to narrate the story through Jack. As adult readers we might be more interested in the mother's point of view? What was it like to suddenly lose freedom having once had it? What effect does repeated rape have on you? What causes someone to attempt suicide after escaping such trauma? All of these questions have to remain unanswered for us here, because Jack, being a child who has only known confinement, has no insight into these things. For this reason maybe a dual viewpoint narration might have been more successful.
It's a very uncomfortable and unsettling read, and the way Emma Donoghue drip-fed you some of the more chilling aspects of their lives was incredibly powerful, especially as this drip-feeding mainly related to events which dramatically affected Ma but were dropped so gently into the narrative I sometimes found myself stopping dead in my tracks and having to re-read the sentence to make sure I'd understood.
Jack's innocence and naivety were beautifully observed, and the contrast between how he and Ma felt about their lives in Room was uncomfortably apparent. As a reader, I felt for them both.
Room is horrible and wonderful, chilling and heartwarming, and it gave me nightmares. It's probably one of the best books I've ever read and I would recommend it without hesitation.