Room by Emma Donoghue

Book: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Why I Read It: I loved one of her other books, Slammerkin, and I was enamored with the idea of writing about the experience of abuse and captivity from the view of a child.
First Line: "Today I'm five."

First Impression: Wow. This is so realistic. And depressing.
Last Impression: Wow. This is so realistic. And depressing. And DAMN can she write!

Overall – 5 Heart Racing I was surprised by how true to life the situation felt; how they play Scream, how he has to hide every night in case Old Nick visits, how detailed the minutia of each day is because it is all they have.
Characters – 3 Ma and Jack, our main characters, create their own little world in room. Jack narrates, so Ma is only viewed in the mothering role. Her other female experiences are on the periphery, making the abusive situation easier to tolerate, but also leaving her flat and underdeveloped. Old Nick is a disembodied voice but functions in the role of the abuser. Jack is the driving force of the book and much of his personality is shown through his insights.
Story – 5 The story carries itself much further through the action than I anticipated.
Narration – 4 The narration suffers from inconsistency part way through the book, and Jack's voice feels less organic and a bit forced. But the idea of narrating the abusive situation through his naive view is brilliant.

Read Again? Absolutely. It was inspiring to ingest such a well-written, refreshing and engaging story. I was on the edge of my seat.

Tell Others to Read? Yes. But I will warn them. It is a lot and hard to handle. You have to be prepared to read about a woman who has been raped and abused on a very regular basis. You have to be prepared to accept this as her existence and read on anyway. You have to be prepared to watch suffering and hope and despair interact in a very believable way.

Excerpt: "Monday is a laundry day, we get into Bath with socks, underwears, my gray pants that Ketchup squirted on, the sheets and dish towels, and we squish all the dirt out. Ma hots Thermostat way up for the drying, she pulls Clothes Horse out from beside Door and stands him open and I tell him to be strong. I would love to ride him like when I was a baby but I'm so huge now I might break his back. It would be cool to sometimes go smaller again and sometimes bigger like Alice. When we've twisted the water out of everything and hanged them up, Ma and me have to rip off our T-shirts and take turns pushing ourselves into Refrigerator to cool down.
     Lunch is bean salad, my second worst favorite. After nap we do Scream every day but not Saturdays or Sundays. We clear our throats and climb up on Table to be nearer Skylight, holding hands not to fall. We say 'On your mark, get set, go,' then we open wide our teeth and shout and holler howl yowl shriek screech scream the loudest possible. Today I'm the loudest ever because my lungs are stretching from being five.
     Then we shush with fingers on lips. I ask Ma once what we're listening for and she said just in case, you never know."
Excerpt content property of Little, Brown and Company


  1. This book was so sad but so good! Great review.

  2. It was such a powerful read! And thank you! :)


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This work by H.E. Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.