Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue
HarperCollins Canada

Five-year-old Jack has never known a world outside of Room, the 11′ x 11′ space he inhabits with Ma, who was abducted seven years ago from her college campus. The novel, told from Jack’s point of view, follows their attempt to escape from Room and lead a normal life.

It took me a while to get my hands on a copy of this award-winning novel, given the massive holds list at my local library. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. Jack’s narration took some getting used to, and since Room is so isolated from the outside world, not a lot happens there. I was beginning to get bored with hearing the details of what Jack ate for lunch, though I did enjoy seeing the ways Ma tried to create a somewhat normal environment for him by having “phys ed” and story times. One other detail that bugged me was the constant references to breastfeeding. I suppose Ma continued to breastfeed Jack because it gave him comfort, but I found it annoying how often it came up.

For me, the real highlight of this book was the part after Ma and Jack escape from Room. Seeing Jack discover the world beyond what he has seen on TV provided a lot of humour and allowed me to really warm up to his character. It also introduced new characters, such as Jack’s grandmother and Steppa, which helped round out the story. Although I ended up enjoying the book and really appreciated that it was something different from what I’ve been reading lately, I wasn’t as blown away as I expected to be given all the hype. Still, a worthwhile read.


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