Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue


I am using Room by Emma Donoghue for the What’s in A Name Challenge 5 for category 4. A book with a type of house in the title  You can find the challenge by clicking the image above to go to the Beth Fish Reads blog.


Why you might ask? A  room isn’t a house you might say. But in this story, Room is a house, in fact for 5 year old Jack, it’s the entire world.

We open the novel on Jack’s 5th birthday. Right a way you notice something a bit odd. Jack refers to all the household objects as proper nouns, like Table, Wardrobe, and ultimately his space as Room. As if it is an entire world and the objects it’s population. Jack and his mom spend the entire time in Room. They cook and eat, have exercise time, and even a bit of television time. How can Jack still believe that Room is all there is when they have a television? Well television is fake world, but Room is real world. At night, Jack hides in Wardrobe while Old Nick visits his mother. Old Nick brings food and Sunday treat, but Jack never sees him. His mother doesn’t want him to see him.

Thus opens the traumatic world of Jack and his mother. Jack’s mother is starting to realize that Room will be getting too small for Jack soon and he really needs to know about the real world. But how will she tell him? Will Jack even believe her? She knows that she needs to figure out a plan to get them out, and unfortunately she knows she will have to involve Jack.

This story can be quite heart wrenching. However, I really liked this novel and found it masterfully crafted around this difficult subject. The part I found most interesting was the psychology behind it, basically the state of mind of the characters and also the bonds that they formed. The bond between Jack and his mother amazed me. Especially how she adapted into being in Room and trying to make Jack feel normal. I wonder how I would be in that situation? Would I form the same loving bond? Or have resentment? It’s hard to imagine, I don’t think anyone could know what they would do.


I haven’t given much of the story here, because I believe the enjoyment of the book is watching the story unfold, reading the interactions yourself. It is beautifully written. There are some disjointed sentences and made up words, but it adds to the story, because you could see how it would come about in the situation, especially with a five year old boy. I think Emma Donoghue did a great job giving Jack a voice, and really getting into the how the mind of a five year old in that situation may act or think.


If you’ve been avoiding Room by Emma Donoghue because of the hype give it a shot. I agree with others though, I think this is the type of book that is a hit with some people and a miss with others. It will possibly be too heart wrenching and difficult for some to read. But one thing that I’ve been learning lately is to not avoid a book because of the hype or because everyone is reading it. Sometimes that hype is much deserved!

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