Review of Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack and Ma live in Room. The people, places, and things on TV are fantasy. Only Ma and Jack are real. This is the story of how Ma and Jack came to live in Room and how Ma is determined to get out. Told from 5-year-old Jack’s point of view, Room is a gripping, gut-wrenching, thought-provoking, and ultimately rewarding read. Donoghue’s characterizations are dead-on accurate. The reader is always in Jack’s head, but also able to understand the motivations of his mother. With Jack we seek the secrecy of the wardrobe, the comfort of nursing, and the joy of seeing “friends” on TV. Through Jack we see a mother who is sometimes “gone” for the day, and also one who diligently feeds her son and tends to his every need. Our muscles tense as Old Nick visits at night, when Jack is thought to be asleep. We experience Jack’s fear when Ma unveils her plan to escape captivity. We feel Ma’s desperation as she struggles to maintain her sanity. The detailing of each mundane day-to-day activity serves to create a believable – and yet unbearable – world, and build the character of Jack. The story is like an accident scene: we don’t want to know, but we can’t look away. You will not be able to put the book down. Donoghue has successfully created a character and a story that will not soon be forgotten.

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