Room by Emma Donaghue

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room

Amazon US

Amazon UK

What They Say: NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE — nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture

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.

The Review: I read this some time ago but due to all the buzz and craziness (probably warranted) I thought I’d post a review. It’s now a bit overdue but anyhoo …

I adored this book. When I read it there was a lot of talk about it (pre film, though a lot of people were hoping for one), but I had no real idea what it was about and I’ll admit, hadn’t even read the blurb. The narrator  of the book is the gorgeous five year old Jack, obviously intriguing and ingenious in itself,a s he goes through everyday life in ‘Room, ‘with ‘bed’ and ‘wardrobe’ practically characters in his mind. We are given insights into his mother’s frame of mind and yet her strength as she struggles to give Jack a ‘normal’ life, playing with him, telling him of stars and things ‘out there’ that he doesn’t believe exist. This may just be a mother’s view, but I think one of the big themes of this book was that even faced with huge amount of adversity in life, if a child has some form of stability in forms of a parent or guardian, they can still be well adjusted and educated.

It’s funny how such a simple story can bring you along with it, for most of it is simple, you remember that they’re trapped there, you have a slight feeling of unease  and yet you’re just listening to a mother and son converse, a mother explaining things to her son without trying to upset him and yet, as would be expected, it’s not always that easy, nobody could be expected to hold it together all the time, and there are times she falls and you feel the horror again, how can anyone exist like this and what will happen to make things change?

Her captor makes appearances every so often and he’s everything you expect him to be, a monster who thinks of people as property, with no thought for what he’s doing. Even though he is this, and even though the subject matter is oh so dark, I didn’t really empathise with the reviews that found it so disturbing, and I think that that’s where Ms. Donoghue’s simple and effective writing, as well as the child’s narrative comes in. We’re so deeply involved in the story, in listening in, in thinking about their next move, as in the next five minutes, not whether this can continue long term, that we just read on, we have the slight uneasy feeling the whole time, but there’s not the graphicness and horror that other writers may have added to shock. I have not seen the films, but was a bit shocked by the unnecessary spoiler contained in the trailer, in the same way I’m pretty sure the paperback had a hint as to what might happen in the book and it annoyed me. Let me tell you, you don’t need to know. A must, must, must read (in my humble opinion!) Oh and make sure to let me know, have you read? Have you seen the film? Maybe you plan to do both together or are you just not bothered?I’d love to know!

Rating: 5/5

 

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3 thoughts on “Room by Emma Donaghue

  1. I read the book a few years ago – telling the story through the eyes of a 5 year old really lifted the tone of the story. As adults we know the subject matter is dark and distressing but we’re able to see the humour and naivety through the child narrator. I agree that other writers could have resorted to graphic horror but it’s what is implied rather than said which has shock value. I’d be interested to see how this is handled in the film. Great review!

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    • I think the 5 year old was the hook that made it so different, I honestly don’t know if it was new or ahead of its time, but it was so well done! I may never see the film, I always say I will, but unless it comes up on TV, and I’m actively watching, I probably won’t!

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