Review – Room by Emma Donoghue

This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I heard about the film coming out and thought maybe now is the time i should finally get my hands on a copy. Room by Emma Donoghue is narrated by 5 year old Jack, who lives in Room with his Ma. Ma was kidnapped seven years ago, and forced to live in a small cabin, with no access to the outside world. She is frequently raped and abused, and eventually gives birth to Jack, who knows nothing other than the room he has never left.

This book is not for the faint-hearted, as you can imagine. Ma has attempted to make as good a life for Jack as she possibly can, and it is so interesting to see this from his point of view; someone who knows nothing else. It is also brilliant how Ma is portrayed, through the eyes of Jack. We are lead to think there is nothing wrong with her because that is what jack believes, but of course that can’t be true. We are given glimpses into her mental state, with Jack describing her as being ‘Gone’ for the day. We also piece together snippets of how she is being treated by Old Nick, their captor, through their conversations that Jack hears from inside the wardrobe.

I’ll give you a slight spoiler – they escape. I’ll not tell you how, but it’s important that they do. The second half of the book is about how they adapt to the outside world, and we learn the true mental state of Ma.

This book makes you ask a lot of questions and really wonder how you would survive in that sort of situation. Ma makes some questionable decisions about how to raise Jack, but it makes you think, would I have really done it differently? You really can’t know what you would do unless it actually happened. It also makes you wonder how it’s possible for a child to adapt to a normal life after being in these sort of circumstances.

I would be really interested in reading a small epilogue. I don’t think a sequel is necessary, but I would really like to know how they got on in the long run, several years later. The book finishes only a few weeks after the escape, and they are only just starting to adapt.

I’m finding it really difficult to write about this book because it is such an unusual concept. I would put it in a similar category as The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, which I thought was incredible but would struggle to review. They are both such delicate subject matters that it doesn’t seem right to say that I loved it, or even enjoyed it in a way. You really can’t enjoy reading something like that in the normal sense of the word. It’s a different sort of emotion; one that you wouldn’t want to repeat but would 100% recommend to others.

I’m also not sure how I’d feel about watching the film. The greatness of this book is in the narration by Jack and I’m not sure a film would be able to capture that in the same way.

This is almost in my Top Ten Books, but I read it too quickly and there was a couple of moments where is started to drag a little bit. Like I said, I read it in two days and maybe I just needed a break from such a harrowing subject matter, but that has made me rate it slightly lower. The problem is, the writing is so readable and the story so riveting that you don’t want to put it down. I’d probably recommend that you take your time with it.

9/10 Almost There

4 thoughts on “Review – Room by Emma Donoghue

  1. Anastasia says:

    I actually reviewed this today and then I was scrolling through my feed and saw your post! 😀 It was somehow a funny coincidence.

    I like your review! I think mental state of Ma was written well and also that she cared about her kid, or tried to give the best care she could. I was wondering about the exact same thing about raising Jack but I’d probably do all that myself. Lie about the room, breastfeed…

    I read a book some years ago called 3096 Days by Natascha Kampusch, it reminded me of this but it’s interesting how Room was published earlier and it really nailed it.

    The Lovely Bones sounds really good! I’ll add it on my TBR! 🙂


  2. Pingback: End of Year Review

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