Book review | Room by Emma Donoghue


“After nap we do Scream every day but not Saturdays or Sundays. We clear our throats and climb up on Table to be nearer Skylight, holding hands not to fall. […] Then we shush with fingers on lips. I asked Ma once what we’re listening for and she said just in case, you never know” (50).

Room was on my TBR list for a while now and I am so incredibly glad I finally got to it, because this novel simply blew me away. Room tells about five-year-old Jack and his mother who live in Room. They never leave Room. Ever. Old Nick comes to Room sometimes when it is night. Jack has never seen Old Nick from up close, only through the slats of Wardrobe. Old Nick brings them food and every Sunday they can ask for a Sunday treat. His mother wants to go to Outside and so they come up with a plan.

Emma Donoghue chose a challenging subject for this novel and she picked an unusual character to tell the story. The entire novel is written from Jack’s perspective with a five-year-old’s use of language, grasp of reality and view of the world. As is often the case with a child narrator in an adult novel, the reader is more knowledgeable than the narrator. Jack gives the reader a brutally honest view of his life, his mother’s situation and our world in general.

By selecting an innocent and inexperienced storyteller, Emma Donoghue on the one hand lightens the load of the book. Jack’s wonder and cheer make this gruesome story bearable and less dark. On the other hand certain situations in the novel are even more shocking, because they are told by a child. Although Jack fails to understand certain horrid events, the reader does not.

With 401 pages in my edition it is a novel of average length, but it reads like a short story. If you are able to see the world through Jack’s eyes, it might make you question what most of us take for granted and change your perception of the world. Room is a devastatingly beautiful novel and I would definitely recommend it.

Donoghue, Emma. Room. London: Picador, (2010) 2011.