Room by Emma Donoghue

room by emma donoghue

Arrived back in Sydney on Sunday and it’s been super frantic catching up with life. I have a couple of unfinished reviews in draft, but to keep up to date with the recent events for once, I’m going to talk about Room NOW.

If there were a modern book fairy, it must work like this: wish upon a star send an email to the Big Man and express your wish to read the book, forget about it, and get the book in the mail unexpectedly. Well that’s what happened to me. Thanks Pan MacMillan AU! Regular readers know that I rarely ever read books published in current year. This time however, I made an exception, for the book was screaming, Read Me, Read Me.

I started reading a couple of days before I left for Indonesia and finished it on the plane on my way there. The flight was around 7-8 hours and I did not let it go once. The hell with in-flight entertainment!

Told from the point of view of a 5 year old boy, Room is a page turner in the truest sense. Jack is born in 11×11 feet Room and lives inside with his Ma. Room is his entire world, the only world he knows. While Ma is aware of the horror they are going through, for Jack Room is a place of safety, the only place that is real.

The story is inspired by the Fritzl case, a case which fascinated me since I first heard it. The whole imprisonment and sexual enslavement of own daughter is truly mind-boggling. Donoghue however, opted to not include the incest factor. And by telling the story from the child’s point of view, it becomes a rather unsentimental almost adventure-like tale. You don’t have to worry about anything graphic. I thought there would be much more emotion in the book, but there wasn’t, which is a good thing in this case. It’s the type of book that make you think, rather than feel.

I was a bit impatient at the beginning about the description of their day to day life and Jack’s voice felt somewhat gimmicky. But the pace started to move quicker after the circumstances have been fully introduced and he really grew on me. I was very fond of him at the end and satisfied with the ending.

The inclusion of Room in the Booker shortlist was a nice surprise. I’m not sure if it’s literary enough to win the prize, but I think once in a while they need to take a chance and go ahead with guts. I would bet my virtual money for Room to win. Hah! :)Emma Donoghue

4.5 stars
2010, 321 pp

Awards
Shortlisted for 2010 Man Booker Prize

First line
Today I’m five.

Quote (possible spoiler)
“Also everywhere I’m looking at kids, adults mostly don’t seem to like them, not even the parents do. They call the kids gorgeous and so cute, they make the kids do the thing all over again so they can take a photo, but they don’t want to actually play with them, they’d rather drink coffee talking to other adults. Sometimes there’s a small kid crying and the Ma of it doesn’t even hear.” ~ p287

Also reviewed by
Farm Lane Books Blog
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