Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

For the first ever Tales to Tomes Online Book Club selection, we read the bestselling Room by Emma Donoghue.  Before moving on to my thoughts, let's get a little summary of the book (from Goodreads) ...
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.

I am honestly not really sure how to describe my feelings for this book.  It has received a lot of raves throughout the media and blogosphere.  And, I can understand why.  The book is truly one that pulls at the heartstrings . . . a LOT!  However, in order for me to get my full feeling across on my personal reaction, let's break it down a bit . . .

The writing . . . At first, this book was very difficult for me to get into.  The entire story is told from the perspective of 5-year-old Jack.  I had to ease into the first chapter very slowly as I adjusted to the perspective and became more fully acquainted with where the story was going.  Once I was able to better appreciate who the story was coming from, I was better able to understand and appreciate the writing itself.

Speaking of perspective . . . I have a son about the same age as Jack.  I have multiple conversations a day with this child and I know him better than anyone else!  BUT, it is so hard for me to "get" him sometimes!  I am always asking myself . . . "What is that kid thinking?"  Despite the fact that I was once five and that I live with a child about the same age, it took me a bit to really figure out the "simple" (for really a lack of a better word!) language.  For example, "to have some" . . . I had no idea what this was until probably 50 pages into the book.  Then, the light bulb went on and many more things began making sense.  The pieces of the puzzle began connecting.  And, my appreciation of the book increased!  The writer really had to take quite a few steps back in time to get into the shoes of a 5-year-old . . . and not just any 5-year-old, but one that knows nothing more than the Room.

The subject . . . I knew going into this read that it was not going to be a light-hearted story.  It's a "heavy" topic that comes with a multitude of emotions.  I caught myself with tears in my eyes, my chest tense with anger, sitting on the edge of my seat as I was cheering on Jack and Ma, and smiling at the smallest of accomplishments.  Even if you know the topic being addressed, even when you prepare yourself, the book has an impact on you that will last.  It makes me appreciate the small things in my life.  It makes me realize just how deep the love for my children runs.  And, it makes me a bit frightened of what is out my front door.

Overall, I don't know if I can rave about the book.  I don't know if it is a book that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.  It IS a book that will be on my mind for quite some time.  It IS a book that will keep me wondering.  It IS a book that gives me hope.  And, it IS a book that simply makes me hold my own children's hands a tad tighter and hug them a little longer and harder.

Have you read Donoghue's Room?  Share your thoughts, join in the discussion, and share a link of your review. 


  1. Great review! I too had a tough time with this book, although I really admire Donoghue's restraint with the sensationalist nature of the topic. My review here: http://wordnerdbird.blogspot.com/2010/12/12-books-12-months-room-by-emma.html

  2. Sorry I couldn't join in with the group read but I'll probably still pick this one up sometime this year. Nice review and looking forward to the pick for March!

  3. I just don't think this book is for me but I can see why readers would get sucked into it.

  4. Great review! I had mixed feelings about this one, probably because of all of the hype. I may have liked it more if I hadn't had such high expectations for it. And I had no idea what Jack meant by "to have some" either until much later! It was original and made me think, but I decided not to review it because I had a hard time putting my thoughts to paper on this one. And that doesn't happen very often! *L*

  5. I'm with Alexia on this one. I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't known so much about it to begin with. I'll post the link to my review.

  6. Rebekah . . . I am going to add your review to the Mr. Linky above and will be over later this week to review it. Can't wait to read your thoughts!

    lisa :) . . . The pick for March is Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones. Can't wait to hear what you think of Room when you do get around to it!

    Kristen M. . . . It was a tough book to read and I'm still struggling with my overall feeling for it.

    Alexia561 . . . It was a very difficult one to review. I still don't know my overall feelings for the book, and the high expectations may have something to do with it too. Don't know! I'm so glad I was not the only one that it took a while to figure the "some" out! :)

    carolsnotebook . . . I will be over to read it very soon! I plan on catching up on all links this week, so be warned if you get lots of comments from me!!


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