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Room: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – Unabridged, September 25, 2012
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To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. 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's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.
Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating -- a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.
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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
"Powerful.... Seen entirely through Jack's eyes and childlike perceptions, the developments in this novel--there are enough plot twists to provide a dramatic arc of breathtaking suspense--are astonishing.... Donoghue brilliantly portrays the psyche of a child raised in captivity...will keep readers rapt."―Publishers Weekly
"A novel so disturbing that we defy you to stop thinking about it, days later."―Sara Nelson, O Magazine
"A bravura performance."―ELLE
"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
"One of the most affecting and subtly profound novels of the year."―Ron Charles, Washington Post
"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, Boston Globe
"Remarkable....Jack's voice is one of the pure triumphs of the novel: in him, she has invented a child narrator who is one of the most engaging in years - his voice so pervasive I could hear him chatting away during the day when I wasn't reading the book....This is a truly memorable novel, one that can be read through myriad lenses - psychological, sociological, political. It presents an utterly unique way to talk about love, all the while giving us a fresh, expansive eye on the world in which we live."―Aimee Bender, New York Times Book Review
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.
- Publisher : Little, Brown and Company; Reprint edition (September 25, 2012)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316223239
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316223232
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.25 x 1 x 7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,212,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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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
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.
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!
Top reviews from other countries
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.
Told entirely from the perspective of a child, Donoghue takes a distressing, dark subject and turns it into a compelling, life-affirming tale; Jack's innocence, obsession with numbers and lively imagination makes the captive existence he and his Ma endure bearable for them both. It's established throughout the book that Jack is a bright child, his mother an intelligent, educated young woman; how they cope with life in the room and later outside in the real world is the whole substance of the novel; it`s a subtle study of how a mother/child relationship endures and adapts to extreme situations – and in that respect, it`s a deeply human story.
The courage and fortitude shown by both characters as the events of the plot unfold is profoundly moving.
It's obvious of course, that if this had been told from Ma`s perspective it would have been a very different, far more harrowing (and conventional) story – we all know of real-life horrors this fictional story draws on; there's a justifiable degree of contrivance to the whole enterprise, but that`s an acceptable aspect of the novel.
I was surprised – not to say dismayed by the negative reviews the book has received on these pages – particularly from readers who couldn't even make the effort to accept the language in which it is written; I feel most sorry for those who have tried to intellectualise arguments to justify their lack of engagement.
I suppose some folk just lose the poetry and wonder of the world when they move into adulthood.
Ignore the naysayers and read this book - accept it on it`s own terms – I was moved by it and I recommend it unreservedly; it`s an uplifting, rewarding read.
Maybe it would have helped if the author had broken the sections of the story into smaller chapters - but I found myself thinking, "For goodness sake! - how much more of this until we get to the end of the chapter?"
SPOILER ALERT COMING UP - FOR ANYONE WHO DOES WANT TO READ IT:
First part - after one chapter, I got it. Young woman is obviously being imprisoned as a sex slave and is bringing up the child she had as a result in an environment where he knows nothing of the outside world. Got it now - don't need any more boring, repetitive detail - so skipped to "escape".
Second part - woman & child now trying to adapt to life outside. Obviously, woman coping better, as she wanted to get back to normal life - child having difficulty coping with this "brave new world". Did we have to dwell on the breast-feeding so much? Surely she would have worked out by now that this ISN'T normal? She was supposed to have been nineteen when incarcerated - she would have known that a 5-year-old shouldn't still be having breast milk! (Would the breasts even continue producing that long? - Is it biologically possible? - I have no idea!)
Skipped to end.
End - nothing special. didn't feel there was any kind of "wrap-up".
This book won awards - God knows why. Unless you have problems with insomnia and need to get something to send you off to sleep, please don't waste your money...