[Review] Room - Emma Donoghue

Title of Book: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Publication Year: 2010
Language: English
Format: Hardback
Pages: 321

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.


Jack has been living in a Room his whole life with his Ma, just the two of them though sometimes Old Nick visits at night. Room was his entire world. Until when he turned five, Ma told him the truth about the outside world and how Ma is actually from the outside before she’s in Room. So Ma devised an escape plan which led to them being saved. What Ma doesn’t know is, Jack is more scared of the outside world than Room.
I personally think this book has an unusual premise. It tells a harrowing story of a kidnapping and rape victim story through the innocent eyes of a five-year-old. I’ve never read this kind of story before, so it’s new to me. Because of the narrator being a five-year old, some things take getting used to. Such as how he articulates his thoughts could be confusing since they’re not grammatically correct all the time. You’re being put in a head of a little boy who doesn’t know that the things other than what’s in the room exist. You’re also being told that what’s on TV is not real. Like I said, it could get confusing. But once you pass that, you’ll appreciate it more. Especially when it’s something that Jack perceives as some mundane thing then you realize the truth of what’s really happening. It’s horrifying and saddening.
The first few parts of the book could feel boring and monotonous to some people. It’s mainly about how Ma and Jack spend the day in Room. But I think those are the part which shows how strong Ma actually is. She tries her best to raise Jack despite all the limitations that she has. True, there are days where Ma is (as Jack would describe as) Gone, but after all she's been through, I think she tried her best.
We don’t read a lot of Old Nick in this book because Ma is so protective to Jack. Yet, I can pick up bits and pieces of his character from the way he treated Ma and Jack. I think Donoghue did a great job in portraying Old Nick to be realistic. He’s not a charming and charismatic psychopath. He is your average Joe, but you can still see how a man like him could manage to do such a horrible thing like that.
To be honest I’m not sure at which point that it would be considered as spoiler with this book because the summary from the cover of this book said that they will successfully escape. But even though I already knew that, I still felt the suspense and can’t help but rooting for them. Don’t think after they escape their hardship ends there, it’s even harder for them after they escape. Jack has to adjust his habits and life on the outside world. Ma has to work harder to raise Jack because on the outside she couldn’t control the environment anymore.
All in all, Room is such a beautiful and poignant book. It’s quite ambitious, but Donoghue did a great job in executing it. It’s more than a book about the gritty reality of kidnapping and rape, it’s also about human connection and motherhood. I highly recommend this book.

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