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Room: A Novel

A book by Emma Donoghue

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Unlock the Doors

  • Mar 21, 2012

Author: Emma Donoghue
Reviewed By Fran Lewis
The four walls of a room can often be confining when you are sick and unable to get around. But, what happens when the four walls become your only outlet with the world, your only environment and the only person that you see is you mother. From the day he was born Jack’s world evolved in the space of an entire Room. His mother, Ma was kidnapped and lived in the room for seven years, gave birth to her son there and spent years nurturing, teaching and caring for this precious child. Let’s enter Jack’s mind and world as we hear his voice throughout the novel telling his story.
As you enter the room and see the surroundings you understand the world in which this mother and son have been confined. The inner core of the room has little space, a bed, a wardrobe where Jack often hides, television which provides his only real connection with the outside and real world and the small skylight that some light comes through before the darkness falls and envelopes them. Creating a real world within a closed and sealed room is frightening to say the least. But, what if this is the only world you know would you be afraid? One woman who was kidnapped on her way to a college class, enters the world of one man who owns her every being, decides on her fate, provides her with some small comforts in life and expects her gratitude in ways no one would deem right.
As our narrator, five year old Jack, relates his story, his life, how he and his mom referred to as Ma spend their days and nights, you wonder how they deal with the closed quarters, only their company and the knowledge deep within that there is much more out there than what they have. Yet, Jack is grateful for the small things and when he prays he expresses how happy he is with television, Ma, toys and the things that help sustain both of them except for Old Nick. Smart, inquisitive, wise beyond his five years Jack lives within an imaginary and real world that he has created for himself. As you hear his voice, his inner most thoughts and begin to understand the mind of a five year old trying to live in a world that exists of just one other, his fantasies and his imagination. What about Ma? What can she do for an outlet to release herself from Jack so that he grows into his own person without leaving him? Yet when Old Nick invades their world and her bed things change and Jack hides in the wardrobe unseen, quiet and hopes that he won’t hurt his mother and create the scratches that he sees on her neck every time he leaves.
Bedtime stories made up games, Old Nick’s voice as he rationalizes his treatment to her and her need for the pills he gives her to stay alive, yet selfish, only caring about himself and complaining about his finances while she and Jack remain alone. Locked in the wardrobe until she comes for him he endures the fears, bad dreams and wiles of a man who thinks what he is doing is right.
Time to create plan to escape. As Ma hopes to create a permanent diversion to trick Old Nick into opening the door and getting them out The end result is quite unique as they finally encounter a police officer and they hope to find Room and release Ma too. The end result is one brave boy named Jack and freedom. Imagine seeing your first doctor and going through your first exam. Jack’s perception of people and who they are is still not quite correct but he adjusts, as his Ma has to endure even more. Seeing themselves on TV was not exactly what they expected when they went to the hospital. Interacting with the world and the doctors seems awkward for Jack and even his mother. Now that Nick is in jail they should feel safe. From meeting Dr. Clay to his real grandmother and trying to deal with the real world Jack is truly amazing and his reactions to most things quite remarkable and unique. Throughout the end of the novel Jack meets his grandparents, learns more about his mother’s feelings towards her father and is embraced by the staff and patients at Cumberland Clinic. Seven years in what most would save captivity and dealing with a miscarriage and then the birth of her son, as she recounts the events for reporters. Going to live with his grandmother when his mother is ill frightens him but Jack is truly special and he learns to deal with this separation.
As Jack learns more about the real world, meets other children he tries to understand what things are and yet seems lost without his Ma. His grandma and Steppa  (grandfather) teach him a lot when his Ma is sick but he never quite understands everything. Jack is quite unique and needs closure and what he does at the end of the story will surprise the reader and make you wonder just who the grownup is in the story. Book, toys, bikes, a soccer ball and seeing a library for the first time and just going to the part Room takes the reader on a journey that most kids should never experience and will endear you to a mother who gave up more than just her dignity in order to survive in Room. With the help of Dr. Clay and his staff and finally getting a place of their own they have many miles to go and many hurdles to climb but together they will definitely and hopefully close the door to Room for good.
This is one book that brings to light what happens when one mother goes protects her son at all costs, teaches him manners, love, understanding and most of all respect for life. Four walls can be confining when you are trapped and locked in or they can be your world and you can learn from the things you have at hand. One man that tried to take it all away from them and one woman who fought back with the help of one special young boy named Jack.
 A must read for everyone as you will appreciate the little things in life and just being a family after reading Room.
Fran Lewis: reviewer

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October 21, 2013
Very detailed review!
More Room: A Novel reviews
review by . February 02, 2011
I had been reading and hearing nothing but good things about Room, so I finally decided to see what the hype was all about. My reading pleasure was slightly tainted when the library gave me one week to read it. The book is that popular with the public! However, my friend Paula assured me that it was a quick read. This was not the case. Although I was able to finish the book in one week, it was out of sheer pride and stubbornness. I wanted to stop reading it numerous times, and if …
review by . October 16, 2013
  I finished reading Emma Donoghue's Room a few days ago and I've been puzzling about it ever since.       The novel, which according to Donoghue's website has now sold more than a million copies, was nominated  for and/or has won a raft of prizes including the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (for best Canadian novel), the Commonwealth Prize (Canada & Carribbean Region), the Canadian Booksellers’ Asand the Orange Prize.  …
Quick Tip by . February 19, 2012
a great perspective of kidnap from the view of one who's never known anything else.
review by . February 23, 2011
Jack has spent his entire life in one location—Room. It is where he was born and to his five year old mind, Room is the entire world. His world contains three people, himself, Ma, and Old Nick. Ma, a victim of kidnapping, uses their limited supplies, to transform Room into a place of adventure and excitement, filled with childhood stories and imaginative play. However, she has never given up hope of being rescued and she longs for their freedom. Told entirely from Jack’s perspective, …
review by . September 17, 2010
   When I first read the synopsis for this book I was worried that I might not enjoy reading a book told through the eyes of a five year old boy.  I felt that it was either going to come across  as too childish and possibly just annoy me, or he would come off as too mature for his age and therefore make it not credible enough for me.  I'm glad to report that I worried in vain.   Ms. Donoghue gives you the chilling tale of "Ma" - who has been held captive …
review by . February 25, 2011
I would never have read this book if it wasn't part of The Morning News' Tournament of Books. Although this seems to be on most "best books" lists for 2010(and shortlisted for the Mann Booker prize), I wasn't sure I wanted to read Room. The story is being told by a five year old boy who is trapped in a 11' by 11' room with his mother. I have to admit to being concerned about how ghoulish and difficult the subject matter would be. I just didn't need another book …
review by . July 10, 2010
This is the kind of book that is better the less you know about it.    Even the product description above, and probably most of the reviews here will give you more information than you need to know.    So this review won't tell you much about this book. What I can tell you is that it lives up to the hype. It's a poignant, thoughtful, and completely original book.    What makes it original? -- the way of looking at the world, the use of …
Quick Tip by . March 07, 2011
The kind of book you don't want to stop reading! Great and easy read.
review by . October 26, 2010
Told entirely through the voice of a five-year-old boy, this spellbinding novel succeeds on many levels: it's a riveting, suspenseful story, a deep psychological portrait of two people with very different agendas, a total immersion in one child's extremely alien universe, an intense portrayal of love between parent and child, and an examination of our culture and socialization.    It's also a beautifully written novel from the Irish-born author of Slammerkin, which will haunt …
Quick Tip by . January 30, 2011
This book was all I expected and more. It is a beautifully written novel.
About the reviewer
fran ()
Ranked #126
I am an educator, book reviewer, talk show host on Blog Talk Radio and I do online interviews with authors upon request. My book reviews are free and my reviews are honest, detailed and help spotlight … more
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue'sRoomis rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enterRoomwill leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time.--Lynette Mong
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ISBN-10: 0316098337
ISBN-13: 978-0316098335
Author: Emma Donoghue
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
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