Saturday, December 19, 2020

Room by Emma Donoghue


I've had Room by Emma Donoghue in my 'to be read' pile since March 2012. I've been wanting to read this book for years... especially upon learning it was being made into a movie a few years ago. I meant to read Room by Emma Donoghue before watching the movie as I prefer reading a book prior to seeing the movie version of said book. 

Long story short, I saw the movie version of Room before actually reading it. So I kept putting off reading Room ever since then as I don't enjoy reading a book as much after seeing the movie. Why? Mainly because I feel like watching the movie spoils the book for me. Yet, I have no problem watching the movie based on a book after reading the book. Go figure! Anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

Anyway, back to my review of Room by Emma Donoghue. I thought Room was really well written by the author. Room is told through the eyes of Jack, a 5 year old boy, who lives inside a room (it's a shed really) with his mother. It's only the two of them and they have no access to the outside world... Jack's Ma was kidnapped at age 19 while away attending college. She has been held by her captor, Old Nick, for 7 years and repeatedly raped. Jack is the by product of this rape and she raises him alone with intermittent visits made by her captor, Old Nick. 

Jack has no real concept of real life outside room. For Jack, life is normal inside room. It becomes excruciatingly painful just how unreal/abnormal life is for both Jack and his mother as the plot unfolds. Life becomes especially difficult when Ma hatches a daring plan which would allow them both to escape the clutches of 'Old Nick'.

After Ma and Jack escape room, we read the difficulties they both have in adjusting to life outside after being cooped up inside room for so long. Jack, although very smart and intelligent as he knows how to read, write, and perform simple math at 5 years old, is stunted in many other ways other children his age are not... And Ma is dealing with the emotional and physical trauma done to her. It's a big adjustment for them both being in the real world. Emma Donoghue captures all the nuances of their new life outside room brilliantly. 

I had difficulty reading many parts of this novel due to the subject matter and the detail in which it is written by the author. I can't even begin to fully comprehend what it would be like to undergo such an ordeal as Ma and Jack lived through while inside room.

Below is a summary for Room by Emma Donoghue from Goodreads:

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience—and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough ... not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

I am giving Room by Emma Donoghue a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!


  1. First of all, I feel the same about reading a book after seeing the movie. I have all those images in my mind and they sometimes clash with the images I get from the written word.
    Secondly, I agree that some of the content in Room, the book, is hard to face. But it is a powerful bit of writing Emma Donoghue did.

    1. I am glad I am not the only one who doesn't like to read a book after seeing the movie version.

      Yes, to powerful writing! I think Emma Donoghue does a great job writing about a difficult topic.

  2. Emma Donoghue seems to have a particular knack for describing traumatic experiences and for making the reader feel the claustrophobia of situations such as that around which this plot revolves.

    1. I agree with you in Donoghue's knack for describing traumatic experiences.

  3. Oh man, I read this back when it came out and to this day it haunts me. Luckily, I read the book first before seeing the film. The film was okay. The book was more impactful.

    1. The books are more impactful for sure. I also tend to like the books more than the movie version as well.