Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: Room, Emma Donoghue

Publisher: Gyldendal (Norwegian publisher)
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Release: Released in 2010, but first released in Norway in 2011. I read this in Norwegian
(This is not a YA-title)

Jack is five. He lives with his Ma. They live in a single, locked room. They don't have the key. Jack and Ma are prisoners.

Gripping and beautifully crafted

I have not read anything like Room before. I was instantly sucked into the book, it crawled under my skin and hit me both in the heart and the head. This is not a book you easily forget.

Imagine that you have spent all your life in a little room, that all you know of the world is a table, a rocking chair, a lamp, at tiny bathroom, a flower, a stowe, a big bed that you share with your mummy, a television set and a blanket with marks from the day that you were born. This is Jack's world.

Jack's mom is kidnapped of the street when she is 19 years old, and the kidnapper locks her in a little room. He visits and abuses her regularly. Two years after the kidnapping, Jack is born. Jack and his mom are totally dependent on their captor; he brings them food and supplies. Jack calls him Old-Nick, and when Old-Nick comes to visit, Jack must spend the night in the closet.

Jack knows nothing about the world beyond Room. When his mother tells him about "Beyond", he has a hard time understanding that there exists something outside of Room. But Jack's mum has not forgotten the world outside, and she dreams of running away from captivity.

The whole story in Room is told through Jack's point of view and we understand that his mum is very thin, that she sometimes breaks down and sleeps for days. Jack describes how their captor cut the power to Room, and how they nearly freeze and starve to death as a result. Jack's narrative makes the story even more gripping and heartbreaking, and makes it sound real. It is a big achievement writing a story that the reader actually believes is told by an actual five year old.

Room was inspired by the Joseph-Fritz - case, but despite the gruesome premises, this is also a beautiful book. The love and the bond between mother and son are so well described. The book shows that it is possible to survive horrendous ordeals if you only have love. Love makes you able to live through everything. This is a heartbreaking book, but it also has humour and warmth. It is dark, but at the same time filled with light and hope. It plays on all your emotions. I do not think it is possible to read this book and not be moved by it.

This is one of the books that has made the greatest impression on me throughout my entire life, and one of the best books I have ever read. Simply amazing. You have to read this book.

Other reviews:
Booklover Book Reviews
Medieval Bookworm
Shelf life


Man of la Book said...

Great review. I liked this book but not as much as others. The second half of the book didn't resonate with me. Here are my thoughts http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=820

Ελλάδα said...

This book was a challenge to read. I read it very quickly, but I think it was partly to be done with it. The child's voice is just heartbreakingly tragic and innocent. I am not a mother myself, but I think the book captures just what a mother would do to shield her child from evil in the best way she knows how. There are some interesting tensions in the book, and a book club or discussion on this could have an interesting talk on the Room vs. the rest of the world, whether Room is its own character, and the ways the mother coped. In a world full of Jaycee Dugards and other victims of similar heinous crimes, this book gives you a creepy window into "Room.

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