Room by Emma Donoghue


In recent months I have been trying to read the books that I have been meaning to read for a long time. And amongst those books was Room by Emma Donoghue. And whilst I have read one of Donoghue’s more recent novels, The Wonder, this was one I hadn’t got round to reading. It is a book that many will be familiar with. Originally published in 2010, Room was an international bestseller which sold millions of copies, made its way onto several prize shortlists and was adapted for film. I picked up a copy last year and my edition is the Picador Classics edition, which gives an idea of what a special book this is…

Room is a place in which a young boy lives with his mother. Measuring just eleven feet by eleven feet, it is the only place five year old Jack has ever known. As his story unfolds the reader gets a glimpse into the mind of a young boy and his extraordinary life. A life he has lived alongside Ma, who for years has been protecting her son from the frightening reality of their situation. Unbeknownst to Jack there is a whole world outside of these walls and beyond the skylight, one in which he and his mother have been kept for years. But there comes a time when Ma admits there is a world outside, and Jack discovers that life is not all as it seems. He learns that the pictures he sees on the television screen are actually real, and that there is a world of possibility, if only Ma and Jack can find their way out…

I was quickly drawn into Jack’s world within Room and was gripped by his story throughout. I was really interested to discover that this novel is narrated by Jack as I thought it would be difficult to portray such a story from a five-year olds perspective. However, I think Donoghue has done an incredible job of creating an authentic voice for Jack, one which perfectly captures his innocence and his view on his surroundings. I enjoyed seeing how he and Ma created a world for themselves in such a confined space, and I loved the relationship he had with the objects in the room – relationships equivalent to lifelong friendship. But the strongest of all relationships is that of a mother and her child, and it is clear to see the strength of maternal love and how they must find a way to live in such devastating circumstances. The subject matter in this book makes the story a harrowing read, particularly given Jack’s narration as he begins to make sense of the world. But there is also an uplifting element to this story, one in which we see a mother and a son, and the life they build together.

It is easy to see why Room has become a book that has affected so many readers and had such an impact. It is a story of maternal love, and one of fear and hope. It was one that kept me hooked throughout, a powerful story that will likely stay with me.

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