Room

Room

by Emma Donoghue

Gail Reid (08/11/12): I would have to agree with the other readers that I did not want to read this book until it became a book group selection. It was a surprise how much I enjoyed it. And, what initially appears as a horrible situation is also one that is infused with love and enrichment.

The plot is easily summarized as a kidnapped young woman and the son she gives birth to live their lives as fully as possible in an isolated 11 ft by 11 ft shed for 7 years. After their remarkable escape from their tormentor, they face challenges assimilating into everyday life and re-examining their roles as individuals in society in the context of their inseparable bond.

I liked that the story was told from the perspective of the very verbal 5-year-old Jack whose "Ma" and whose "Room" make up his world. The author does a wonderful job of creating realistic insights and age appropriate dialog from 5-year old Jack. She depicts "Ma" as an incredible mother whose sole purpose is to love and nurture Jack in the confines of imprisonment and whose creative abilities keep a youngster occupied and stimulated.

There is so much originality to this book that you are unlikely to read anything else much like it.
Rating: ****

Anne Ferber (12/04/11): This book knocked my sox off!

The story line has already been well described below, but the thing that impressed me most was the author's inquiry and thorough investigation of the concept of parenting. While imprisoned in the eponymous Room, Jack has no idea that there is anything missing from his life. His needs are met, and he actually surpasses all learning standards for his age. Of course his mother--called Ma-- realizes that this cannot continue indefinitely, so she hatches a plan of escape. Needless to say, it is only when she must deal with the outside world, including family opinions and media intrusions, that she begins to question her own parenting abilities and her own sanity.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who values the happiness and self-actualization of children.
Rating: *****

Debbie Weiss (10/04/11): Many people had recommended that I read "Room" but I put it off until my book club assigned it as the book of the month. I was afraid that the subject matter would not appeal to me. After reading the first few pages, I was unsure whether I wanted to continue, as I was not impressed with a story being narrated by a five-year-old. I continued to read, though, and I was glad that I did. I fell in love with little Jack, whose entire life had been spent in an 11 x 11 room with his mother. He was loved and well taken care of and seemed very well adjusted for someone who did not ever step outside his room.

The most interesting aspect of this novel for me was following the emotions of Jack's mother, who was kidnapped at 19 years of age. While captive, her whole world revolved around her son. Once she escaped, she had to adjust to being a "free" person. She had to learn how to be a person other than Jack's Ma. This was not an easy task, but it was a fascinating transition to me.
Rating: ****

Teresa Joel: The premise of Room is one of horror: a 19-year-old college female is abducted and held in a backyard shack as a sex slave for seven years. The story, however, is how a miracle of love comes out of tragedy: a baby is born to a mother that loves and protects him, while saving her sanity in the process. Jack is born and raised in an 11 x 11 room. His only view into the outside world is through books, stories his mother tells him, make-believe adventures, and television. Jack narrates his story through the eyes and words of a 5-year-old child: charming, literal, and naive. Through Jack, we discover how we define love and the comfort of home; and one person's home is not the same for all of us, but a mother's love is universal.
Rating: ****

Wanda Cohen: The fact that I became emotionally involved in the outcome of this story means that, on some level, the book grabbed me. It's a quick read but not an easy one. The talent of the author is immediately apparent when you realize the the book is being told from a five year old, little boy's, point of view. The child, Jack, and his mother are being held captive in an 11 X 11 room. He has spent his entire life in this room. His mother has taught him to read, write, count and do math. They do have a small TV but Jack is only allowed 30 minutes a day because it will rot his brain. Jack is thriving while his Ma is only surviving. Jack doesn't know how bad it is for her, so we don't find out how unstable she has become. I was startled by some of the story turns. I found myself applauding Ma and then hating her and then trying to understand her. The horror of the plot is that kidnappings really do happen. What would we do as a nineteen year old who has her life ripped away and then she becomes a mother, all alone and at the mercy of a monster. She devotes every single minute to making Jack's life as normal as possible but she knows it isn't enough for him and she begins to create a plan of escape. A plan that changes everything and yet returns many things to exactly the way they had always been. Slowly we realize that the world outside "Room" can often be as harsh as the captive world inside.
Rating: ****

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