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Saturday, July 9, 2011

ROOM - Emma Donoghue

I have retired as a school librarian so I will no longer be reporting on what middle and high school students are reading. Much is the pity but now I will read read read anything I want, whenever I want, and say what I like.

Room is on my Nook and I must admit it was handy for reading while traveling but I still prefer the convenience of a book in my hand. I miss the ability to flip pages looking for something I missed or glossed over when reading too fast. I also want some friend to read it so we can discuss but alas I cannot pass it along since it is on my digital reader. Tsk tsk. Anyway, this is one disturbing read. It is short so you can knock it off in one afternoon, unless you have to put it down and ponder like I do.

Jack, who is five, is the narrator of the story. His mother had been abducted seven years prior as a young girl. Ma and Jack are kept isolated in a 11X11 foot room which is in a shed behind “Old Nick's” house. Nick makes nocturnal visits while Ma keeps Jack hidden in the wardrobe. She refuses to let Nick interact with Jack or even to see him. She does her best to teach Jack lessons, play games with him, and make sure he gets exercise.

As the reader I pondered upon what Ma's thoughts and plans must have been and I tried to determine how she was going to accomplish what she wanted to. However, the narrative is by Jack and I was mesmerized from the beginning when he speaks, “Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. Was I minus numbers?" 

I thought it might be tiring experiencing a whole book through the mind of a small boy but the opposite was true. Room is all Jack has known and he is actually quite happy.  Eventually Ma and Jack find a way to be rescued. What happens after is nearly as fascinating as what went on before. How does a small one cope with a new world when he has lived in such deprivation? What happens when he is homesick for room which was his mother's prison. How does he go about sorting out all the things he has never before seen, smelled, tasted etc. and which others take for granted he should understand. How does Ma cope in the world when it is known what has happened to her and what does her family do with the knowledge that her son is the product of a perverted and demented man?

So much to think about. Making it equally creepy to read at this time is the fact that this very week we are watching the Jaycee Dugard story unfold in a Diane Sawyer interview and also when a young college student is currently missing. Both true stories with similarities to this novel.  
This author website is nice


  1. At first I was a little put off by repetetive nature of the little boy's descriptions of his confined world. It was a little too much, I worried that the whole book would go on in this way. It didn't. The beginning is really very necessary to set up the rest of the book and once you get into the flow of the story you won't be able to put it down. This book has gotten a lot of hype, but I think it is well deserved. It is a uniquely told story that will have you thinking about its themes for days, even weeks after you have finished. It lends itself to an excellent book club discussion. Try taping an 11 x 11 square on your living room floor and having your book club sit inside it for the discussion.

  2. I agree with you. What we actually did was sit at a group of tables and approximated how much room around us would represent "room" and it was kind of creepy. I value your input.

  3. Hard to put this book down. It is like it is based on the real story that happened a few years ago. I have recommended this to many people.
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    1. Thank you Hyacinth (and by the way I love your name!) I felt the same about the book as you. Thanks also for liking my site. I have not been writing on a regular basis since March as I had to nurse and bury my mother, and there has been a lot to do to close her estate but now I hope to take it up again. I love to read and I love to discuss books.I hope to hear from you again.

  4. I am almost speechless. Not since reading To Kill a Mockingbird at age 12 have I read a book that has so profoundly affected me. At times the story was horrific, at other times heartbreaking. Though I can understand those readers who read Room in one sitting, I was not one of them. There were times I had to stop and simply breathe. It was only near the end of the book that I realized that Jack was the only undamaged character in the story. He was a child who was loved