Review: Room

“Ma standing beside Lamp and everything bright, then snap and dark again. Light again, she makes it last three seconds then dark, then light for just a second. Ma’s staring up at Skylight. Dark again. She does this in the night, I think it helps her get to sleep again. “

Emma Donoghue, ROOM

Room, by Emma Donoghue, was published in September of 2010 and is 336 pages. It is one of the New York Times’ Best Books of 2010, and has earned top spots on many lists and reviews.  I heard from several friends that they read it in one to two sittings so I had to see what the hype was about.

Room is the story of  five-year-old Jack who has lived his entire life with his mother in an 11 X 11 room. To him it is all he’s ever known, but his mother slowly reveals to Jack that it is a prison that they need to escape. From middle of the night morse-code light flickers, to the “Scream” Ma and Jack do every afternoon, it quickly becomes clear that Ma feels if they don’t find a way to escape, they will die.

I don’t want to spoil Room by writing too much about the plot, though I’m dying to discuss it with others. I will say that it’s narrated by five-year-old Jack, and truly remarkable how Donoghue is able to sustain the child’s voice convincingly, while revealing the horrible truths of the situation as a child would come to understand them. I originally didn’t think I could read a book with a premise like this, but I absolutely loved it.  While it is difficult to read at times, the overall message and journey in Room make it well worth your time.

I read Room in two nights. It is one of the most terrifying, absorbing, intriguing, yet hopeful books I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it.

Have you read ROOM? If so, what did you think? If not, do you think you’ll give it a try?


12 thoughts on “Review: Room

  1. jeannevb says:

    Sounds fantastic! Of course, the screenwriter in me now has my wheels turning 🙂

  2. Traci Curtis says:

    I picked that up one day while perusing books at BJs in the middle of grocery shopping and flipped to the first page to see what it was about…next thing I knew about 20 minutes had passed and I was completely absorbed into the ROOM. I had to put it down because I realized there was a big knot in my stomach…I never bought it and/or read it yet…but will say that I was sucked in instantly that day I touched it. Reading Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks right now for a book club…maybe I’ll go to ROOM next…

  3. I have been on the fence with this because I have such a hard time with that subject matter. Being a mom of three, I felt the story would take me to where I fear most. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to read it. For now, I might need a bit more hype before I can do it. 🙂

  4. I read this book in just a few sittings, too, and it absolutely blew me away. I’d originally assumed that seeing the world only through Jack’s POV would feel limiting, but it was quite the contrary. His innocence and fresh view on the world opens our eyes to things we might take for granted. And I completely agree with you that as terrifying as it is, it has a very hopeful message. LOVED, loved, loved it.

  5. Eileen Cortese says:

    I was also afraid to read this book but am SO glad I did. I loved it. I was so taken in by how loving and protective the mom was and how she so brilliantly created an entire world in one small room. I greatly admired her mental and emotional strength in dealing with her situation. I think, if you can read the first few chapters and get sucked into the creativity with which this mom enabled her son to thrive in a terrible world, you will find yourself with a new heroine.

  6. I’m glad to hear that you liked this book, Erika. I’ve not picked it up yet because of the daunting premise, especially being a mom of young boys. But, it sounds like it opened up new worlds of hope for many here– Thanks for doing this review. What’s next on your list? -JK

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