What An Incredible Read: ROOM!!!

courtesy: reidsreadings.blogspot.ca

A book about a woman who was abducted and is now raising the son of the abductor in an 11 foot by 11 foot room…there was NO WAY I was going to read this book…regardless of how amazing everyone kept saying it was.

What convinced me to read ROOM?  Our school librarian told my English class that it is a book about the depth of a mother’s love for her child.  Well, when you put it that way…

I ate it up.  Am I ever glad I stopped being a pansy and read what quickly became one of my absolute favourite books.

Author Emma Donoghue is one gutsy writer…I would’ve shuddered at the thought of inventing such a world.  I’m glad she’s stronger than I am because she produced a beautiful book.

The book is narrated by Jack.  He’s five.  And, he’s lived in Room with his Ma his whole life.  His mother creates an incredible world for Jack – she teachings him absolutely everything she knows and then some.  Jack is wise and intuitive.

I loved that every part of Room (Bed, Table, Wardrobe, Lamp etc) was personified and was so very important to Jack.  Each shabby object took on  a life of it’s own in Jack’s world.

Jack was sheltered from the brutality of his mother’s ordeal, and she kept him hidden in Wardrobe every night so Old Nick (Jack’s name for his mother’s abductor) wouldn’t see or hurt Jack.  Yet, Jack was still very aware of the danger that Old Nick posed.  Even if he couldn’t put words to it.

As much as I wanted them to be freed from captivity, I absolutely LOVED their relationship.  (Except the breastfeeding part – completely understandable, but an innocent 5 year old looking for it made me squirmy)

***spoiler alert*** I will discuss the outcome next.

The moment of escape – WOW!  I could not stop reading – I read every 5 words or so (as a friend of mine said she did) and then had to go back and fill in the blanks once I knew that Jack was going to be ok!  Their plan for Jack to be “dead” and Old Nick be forced to take him out of the shed and into the world to bury him worked.  I kept having visions of Old Nick discovering that Jack was not dead and hurting him and it made me nuts – I had to get reassurance from others that I could keep reading.

Donoghue masterfully makes us feel a sense of loss when they escape.  Jack has lost a sanctuary where only he and his mother existed and is forced to be with other people.  Conversely, his mother is ecstatic to be free after a horrific, cruel ordeal.  Their relationship is under fire as each tries to cope with a new reality.

Every moment of his awareness of the world around him is harsh – I was so angry with this aunt!  How dare she take him to the mall to pick up a gift for someone else?  What was she thinking?!?

I can’t believe that part of me actually wanted for them to be back in Room – or in a Room-like place – for the sake of Jack.  I felt so badly for him, poor kid.

ROOM yanked at every feeling in my heart.  I completely related to his mother’s fierce need to protect and love Jack.  I felt throes of anger and fear every time Old Nick was in the room.  I was terrified and anxious when they escaped and was full of pity and compassion as they adjusted to their new life.  This book will take you through every possible emotion – and, it is so very worth it.

If you’ve read ROOM, please let me know what you thought!  If you haven’t, you must.  It is a beautiful, beautiful book.

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15 thoughts on “What An Incredible Read: ROOM!!!

  1. LOVED!!!!!!!! First of all, the concept intrigued me immediately. I ate the book up. It was such an amazing read!

    I think the breastfeeding was in effort to keep Jack and Ma as comfortable as possible. Ma’s life was totally out of her control, and while the breastfeeding was a little grotesque, I think it was her way of keeping something that was comforting to Jack. Most moms would just use a blankie or a stuffed animal, but Ma didn’t have many options.

    ****Spoiler alert: don’t read unless you read the book!

    At first, I understood SOME of Ma’s games, but not all. I understood the ideas behind getting exercise, but not the ideas behind shining the lights or yelling. I eventually got it, though and understood that they were cries for help.

    Funny enough, I was telling my mom I was reading it, and she said, “Oh isn’t it crazy how they escape?” I’m like WTF mom???? I didn’t get to that point yet! But it was okay because I was super close to the point.

    When Ma tried to commit suicide, oh my goodness, I cried thinking about how awful it would be for Jack, who is so clueless about the outside world.

    Also, at the end of the book, when I finished, and closed the book, I totally burst into tears. The impact of the novel hit me, just with them coming back to Room in the end as free, innocent people. It was amazing, heart-wrenching, and one of the most unique reads I have ever read in my life. And for 100% certainty, the most impactful, best book I read in 2012.

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    • Wow!!! Have you reviewed this book elsewhere? I’d love to read it! You are right about Ma’s games (the lamp, the screaming, the exercise) – they were so cleverly revealed – all in due time. And, all of it was veiled by Jack’s innocent take on it. I loved his comment at the beginning of the book when he’s explaining his day with Ma and says that their mornings are so busy because there’s so much to do. It was heartbreaking and so so sweet.

      Ma’s suicide attempt was a definite blow…it made me want to crawl into the book and take care of Jack while he dealt with family who meant well, with doctors who wanted the prestige of “treating” him and his own separation anxiety from his mom.

      The conclusion of the book was so fitting. It leaves the reader with a sense of closure that is so desperately needed after everything we experience with the characters. It truly is an incredible book that stays with you long after you’ve read the last sentence.

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  2. I havent read your review properly yet because i have this book on my shelf but havent yet read it. I cant wait to read it though and from the bits of your review i did read it seems that you enjoyed it 🙂

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    • It was one of those books that makes you uncomfortable because you are aware of the context – and once that context comes to the forefront, you’re so in love with Jack (the narrator) that you have to see him through the story. Glad you enjoyed the bits of my review you read – there are spoilers in it…so don’t read all of it yet! Looking forward to hearing your take on it. Thanks for reading!

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  5. I haven’t read the book yet. Like you, I was scared for it (the same reason I haven’t read The Lovely Bones), but now that I know it ends well, I should pick up this book.

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    • I feel bad at having ruined the ending for you – but I can relate. When I was reading the book, I forced my friend to tell me everything was going to be okay, otherwise I wouldn’t finish it! A worthy read! Interested in knowing what you think when you’re done!

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