Room by Emma Donoghue

“When I was a little kid I thought like a little kid, but now I’m five I know everything.”


“Room” is the story of a little boy named Jack. He is a typical kid, maybe a little precocious, who loves Spongebob and Dora the Explorer and playing games he invented.

But Jack isn’t typical. All of his life, Jack has lived in a padlocked 11×11 foot space with his mother, and the occasional nightmare of a man who Jack calls “Old Nick”. He believes that nothing exists outside of the room, and he and his mother are the only “real” people. Everything and everyone else is just “TV.” To him, the Room is home and he loves it.

But Jack’s mother knows it is a prison. When she was nineteen she was abducted by Old Nick and imprisoned in the Room where he would come and rape her repeatedly. The rape produced her one joy, her son Jack and she is determined to construct a normal and happy life for him, teaching him how to read and write, celebrating his birthday and playing games with him. Ma has resigned herself to her fate until Old Nick loses his job. She is terrified what would happen to herself and Jack if Nick loses his house. Would he kill them or just leave them to starve and rot?

I’m not going to get into the plot any more than I have, because I think everyone should go out and read this book for themselves. The author writes from the perspective of a five-year old boy, which usually is a gimmick that drives me crazy. But Jack’s voice is so compelling that I wasn’t bothered at all. I read somewhere that Donoghue wrote the book in the aftermath of the Fritzl case (for those of you who don’t know: To me, that case represented the epitome of human evil and I didn’t know if I could enjoy a book loosely based on it. But despite the books dark premise, there are gleaming moments of true beauty. It’s a book about finding the will to survive, to adapt and the power of love.

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