Friday 25 February 2011

Book review : Room - Emma Donoghue

Room is my first absolute must-read of the year. At times heart-rendingly tragic and almost painful to read, it is totally unputdownable and literally gave me goose bumps while reading it. I would defy anybody to read it and not be moved.

The novel is entirely narrated by 5-year-old Jack. He and his Ma live in a 12-foot square locked shed. His Ma was kidnapped and imprisoned seven years ago and Jack has never seen the outside world. In fact, Room and its contents - Rug, Wardrobe, Meltedy Spoon, Plant - are the only things that he believes really exist. Everything that he sees on the TV is just fantasy. The world - his world - measures 12 foot square. End of story. And that's all he needs. Jack's simplistic vocabulary, childhood logic and matter-of-fact attitude make the whole thing even more tragic. Imagining him hiding in the wardrobe as his captor makes his almost nightly visit to to his Ma, counting the creaking bedsprings until it's all over, is an image that will stay with you long beyond the final page.

Reminiscent of - and indeed inspired by - the real-life horror stories of captives such as Elisabeth Fritzl and Natascha Kampusch, the book makes you think about details of their day-to-day lives that you have probably never considered. And it goes far beyond the tabloid fodder churned out during the short-lived media frenzy following their ultimate deliverance.

Emma Donoghue really gets into the psyche of five-year-old Jack, totally bewildered by a whole universe he never even imagined existed. You would imagine that being released would be a huge relief and that freedom would be the sweetest thing imaginable. But when ET found himself on a new planet, all he wanted to do was phone home and poor little Jack is in the same predicament. It's heart-breaking to see that all he wants to do is return to the familiar surroundings he has finally escaped from.

Despite many heartbreaking scenes, the book remains surprisingly positive and optimistic, showing the incredible resilience and adaptability of people, especially children, in difficult situations. It is also in some ways a celebration of motherhood and the incredible ability of parents to protect and nurture their children. Ma and Jack may be pushed to their limits but they are ultimately survivors and their story will haunt you long after the final pages.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £7.99

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Picador (23 Dec 2010)
ISBN-10: 0330519026
ISBN-13: 978-0330519021
Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm

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  1. Great review! I've heard such great things about this book, I've been meaning to read it forever!

  2. I so need to read this book! On readitswapit everyone loves it!
    It has been reserved so much in my library l haven't yet been able to read it, l hope too soon!

  3. This is a really great review!'Room' is a brilliant book.
    I have also written a review of it, feel free to check it out!

    1. Great, I'll go and have a look now. I always like to see what others thought of books I've reviewed to compare notes :)


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