THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Usually I don’t go about picking up books like Room but I found the story intrigued me since a couple years back I remembered seeing something on the news about a few women who were kidnaped and hidden away in a basement in a man’s house. Some of you may recall this news story I am talking about. It became something huge and even a famous youtuber made a song out of the news story. Out of all the girls that came out the basement there was one, her name was Natascha Kampusch. She gave birth to a child and as years passed she wrote a book based on those events but this is no secret that the author took some of her ideas from this case and a few others. As many of you may know Emma Donoghue was nominated and made it into the Short List.
Room By Emma Donoghue reminded me of this young woman’s story in a lot of ways, but the interesting and most fascinating part of Donoghue book is she takes the story in the perspective of Jack the young boy who all he knows is the room in whom his mother has lived in since his birth.
I will be honest this book took me a long time to get through and I will get to that. The plot was well written but at times I felt like it took about halfway through the book for the plot to develop and to get to the meat of the story. I do understand why the author did that and the reason for it is for the reader to understand the life that Jack and his mother were living/conditions they had to go through everyday until they found freedom.
You are probably wondering what Room is all about, so here is a brief description for you before I get into the nitty gritty.
by Emma Donoghue
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.
There has been a lot of books that take on the perspective of a child but I’ve got to say this one is quite unique in the sense that this child had to hear the abuse that his mother had to go through and at times he does not understand why there captor/his father was doing this. At times you can tell in the book how Jack reactions to Old Nick when he sees his mother is depressed some days and not wanting to interact with Jack.
“I don’t do Scream because of disturbing Ma…I go very close, half her face is showing and her neck. The marks are purple now. I’m going to kick Old Nick till I break his butt. I’ll Zap Door open with Remote and whiz into Outside Space and get everything at the real stores and bring it back to Ma.”
Room By Emma Donoghue, pg. 79
I really appreciate how the author took a real take on this book and as my above comment mentioned she took inspiration from other cases and throughout the book you see what context those cases took on in Donoghue’s book. In a lot of ways this story was done well and written tastefully.Jack tears at your heartstrings at times and you can’t help feel bad for him for all the things that he sees and not fully comprehending what is really going around, since all he knows is the room he has grown up in for the last five years but despite this you see him grow towards the end of the book and get a grasp on the realness of the situation only as a child can in situation like he went through or similar.
“No one’s in Room Now, just things, everything lying extra still with dust falling, because Ma and me are at the Clinic and Old Nick is in the jail. He has to stay forever in locked in.”
Room by Emma Donoghue, Pg. 244
As much as I was looking forward to giving praise to this book I feel like it was a miss for me. I don’t know I felt at times in the book it got boring. I was expecting the story to be more edgy and thrilling. For my readers out there I will be honest I got a hold of audio version of the book part way through reading the book in order to get through it but even than I felt the struggle to listen to the rest of Room. I wanted to like it…so very much but I found it at times to be a chore and I hate saying that because it’s not a bad book it just lacked the excitement that I was hoping that it would have. I felt at times that there was too much explanation and it took a long time for the plot to develop. At times this book is frustrating to read but I understand the frustration as a reader you feel because it is probably the same frustration the mother feels when she wishes she could provide a better life for Jack or when they are finally free from the room and Jack is not really adjusting to having their new found freedom the mother can’t seem to understand why he is feeling the way Jack does.
“Are we locked in here?”
“No.” She nearly barks it. “Of course not. Why, are you not liking it here?”
“I mean but do we have to stay?”
“No, no, we’re free as a bird.”
Room by Emma Donoghue, pg. 246
Of course any mother like that would find it to be frustrating, challenging, and extremely difficult to deal with and especially with a child.
I did get a chance to watch this movie after reading the book and I found the movie to be okay. I feel like they could have added more but overall it was a good adaption of the book. The actor in the movie did a pretty good job but I did feel a times she could have been a little bit kinder to Jack and then at other points when needed to be harsher.
My final thoughts
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I don’t love it and I don’t hate it. I don’t want to say pass on the book because it is worth the read. If you like books with a lot of detail and that goes in depth than definitely read it.
I would like to make mention there is another book that falls under the same literary genre as Room and it’s called Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I did enjoy that book more but if you enjoyed reading Room and are looking at picking up something to read next I do recommend Still Alice.
My rating for Room
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