Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)
Why I Read It: One of the most popular books on Goodreads.
Where I Obtained the Book: I got it through inter-library loan.
Synopsis: 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.
Review: Every now and again a book so compelling comes along that you literally cannot put it down until you’re done. Young Jack has just turned five years old and has spent his entire life locked in a 11 by 11 room with his Mom. The whole story is told from Jack’s point of view wherein we learn his mother was kidnapped and has spent a lot of years as a prisoner. Jack’s birthday has finally served as a catalyst for escape and freedom.
Unlike most books, this story doesn’t end with the great escape; that is only the halfway point. My favorite part of the book is the second half, the aftermath of dealing with freedom and PTSD. Especially with the recent spate of escapees in the news, I find Donoghue’s interpretation of the transition fascinating. You do not walk away from that sort of ordeal without a price to your mental health. The Mom in the story summed it up best (paraphrase): All those years I wanted to be around people and now I can I want to be alone.
This book will grab you immediately and show you the spirit of human triumph and all the personal costs that involves.
Author Biography: Born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, I am the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue (the literary critic, Henry James Professor at New York University). I attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one eye-opening year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 I earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin (unfortunately, without learning to actually speak French). I moved to England, and in 1997 received my PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. From the age of 23, I have earned my living as a writer, and have been lucky enough to never have an ‘honest job’ since I was sacked after a month as a chambermaid. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 I settled in London, Ontario, where I live with my lover Chris Roulston and our son Finn (6) and daughter Una (3).