Room by Emma Donoghue
First published by Picador in 2010 (this edition by Picador in 2010)
Description: (from Goodreads)
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 remember seeing this book in a book magazine in August while I was on holiday in England. It had only just been published, so it was in hardback and I didn't buy it. (I'm not much of a hardback person. I like them, but I don't prefer them because they're so much more expensive). I managed to find it in Greece just before Christmas in one of those tall paperback editions (which still cost quite a bit, but not as much as a hardback), but only just got round to reading the book.
This was honestly one of the nicest books I have read all year. It tells the story of Jack, a five-year-old boy who has spent his entire life in Room, a space measuring 11x11. He lives there with ''Ma'' and they are sometimes visited by ''Old Nick'', even though Jack doesn't usually get to see him. The narrative is split into 4 parts: the first two are about their life in Room and the second two about their life Outside.
It's quite obvious from the beginning of the book why Jack and Ma are in Room. It's not easy to miss. All the signs are there. The story is told from Jack's point-of-view, so we get to experience everything the way Jack does. I have to admit here that it annoyed me a little in the beginning. I didn't particularly like the style of writing, as it seemed very dummed down regarding expressions, whereas Jack actually knew quite a lot of things. He wasn't slow or dim-witted or anything like that, but that was the feel I got from the first few pages. Then I got used to it and though of it like a child's incessant chatter, so it stopped bothering me and I could get into the story. (And, in the end, enjoy it, too!)
I read quite a few reviews on Goodreads saying that Donoghue came up with the idea for the book because of everything that was happening at the time concerning Elisabeth Fritzl and a few others in the same predicament. I don't really see the problem with that. Sure, those things did happen and they were awful, but why shouldn't they inspire someone to write a book about it?
All in all, a very nice book, told in a unique way. It might have taken some time for me to get used to the type of narration used, but I do think that one of the novel's strongest points was the fact that everything was told from the eyes of an innocent little boy, whose whole world is a single room. There were certain things that happened in the book that I expected to happen, but I liked the way the whole ''problem'' and ''rehabilitation issue'' were dealt with. Definitely, definitely recommended!
Rating: 9/10 (I would have probably given it an 8/10, but my brother said that I was not allowed to give it a rating less than 9/10, so I haven't!)
Emma Donoghue was born in 1969 in Dublin, Ireland. She is the youngest of eight children. She holds a BA in English and French from the University of Dublin, as well as a PhD from the University of Cambridge. She has worked as a full-time writer since she was 23. She currently lives in London, Ontario, Canada.
Some of her other books include:
You can find out more about Emma Donoghue and her books here:
Emma Donoghue Official Website
Emma Donoghue on Goodreads
Counts as Book #35 in the 100 Books In A Year Challenge.