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Room (2010)

by Emma Donoghue

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,177920371 (4.03)1 / 968
Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful--and attempts a nail-biting escape.… (more)
  1. 295
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Anonymous user)
  2. 123
    We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Amsa1959)
    Amsa1959: The novel about Kevin is a much darker and sad story, but it it is about a special boy and his family, and it is a MUST READ novel. It is also - like Room - a novel that makes you think and reflect of our world and lives.
  3. 70
    A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard (mreader)
  4. 51
    Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (cafepithecus)
  5. 51
    Misery by Stephen King (albavirtual)
    albavirtual: ambos libros tienen un alto componenente psicológico, la mente humana llevada al extremo.
  6. 30
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (soffitta1)
    soffitta1: What connects the books, for me, is the way the story unfolds, with the reader being more clued in as to what is happening around the child at the centre.
  7. 63
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Niecierpek)
    Niecierpek: We go through a serious and heart-breaking topic (9/11 in Foer's case) through a narration by a precocious child narrator in both books.
  8. 20
    My Abandonment by Peter Rock (gaialover)
  9. 20
    Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock (amz310783)
  10. 10
    Y by Marjorie Celona (Iudita)
    Iudita: Another story about a troubled childhood, narrated by the child.
  11. 21
    Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (kaledrina)
  12. 11
    Dog Boy by Eva Hornung (PatMock)
    PatMock: Young boy raised by wild dogs in Moscow.
  13. 00
    House of Stairs by William Sleator (_Zoe_)
  14. 00
    Mice by Gordon Reece (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Bad things happening to mothers and their children
  15. 11
    Monster Love by Carol Topolski (tina1969)
  16. 00
    Descent by Tim Johnston (KatyBee)
  17. 01
    The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (_Zoe_)
    _Zoe_: These books are completely different in style; The Mysterious Howling is a lighthearted children's book while Room is more serious and intended for adults. But if you enjoy the theme of a child with an unusual background being reintegrated into society, you may appreciate both of these books.… (more)
  18. 01
    What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? by Henry Farrell (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: The terror of being at the mercy of an irrational, evil captor is effectively depicted in both books.
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» See also 968 mentions

English (892)  Dutch (8)  German (5)  Spanish (4)  Swedish (3)  Finnish (2)  Danish (2)  French (1)  All languages (917)
Showing 1-5 of 892 (next | show all)
I have definitely never read a book like this before, and while I thought the subject matter was great, the delivery of the subject was not something I enjoyed.

Room is the world in which Jack grows up with his Ma and it isn't until he turns five that Ma decides that he needs to understand more about their current situation - that she was kidnapped seven years ago and has been held as a prisoner ever since. I feel like this book had so much more potential than what it turned out to be. The main reason was because of the POV.

The story is told through Jack's perspective; a five year old's perspective. While at times I thought this was definitely a very valuable perspective in relation to how the story might have been told through his Ma's point of view, there were many times throughout the book that I found myself incredibly annoyed with Jack.

I completely respect that Ma wanted to raise her child to grow up as "normal" as possible and so did not tell him things about the outside world until she felt like he could handle it, but his complete lack of knowledge of the outside world when he finally emerged annoyed me to no end. The fact that he could not grasp while they were still in Room (because Ma didn't tell him before five years of age) that there were real things like dogs, cats, cars, airplanes, and other people out in the "real world" versus in tv not only surprised, but also annoyed me.

In an interview in the back of the book, Emma Donaghue shared that she studied her own five year old child for consistencies to put in the book including things like thought processes, language, and knowledge. Jack is very advanced when it comes to things like math and spelling, but I found the author's choice in giving Jack a language of incomplete sentences ridiculous! And maybe it wasn't so much the fact that they were at times incomplete sentences, but more-so that every object when he and Ma were in Room were given the role of proper nouns. For example: "I climb on Rocker to get the books from Shelf and I make a ten-story skyscraper on Rug." Multiple objects around the room (but not all) seem to be thought of as proper nouns. Yes, this is the one 'bed', the one 'rug', the one 'table' that Jack has ever known, but seriously? Unfortunately I don't have any great examples, but Jack's vocabulary is advanced to something closer to a ten year old (and I understand that it has to do with the amount of time he has spent with Ma and how much she chose to teach him), but should he not then know the difference between this bed and other beds since they have a tv and he has seen multiple beds before? Argh, I don't know. Something about all the proper noun use in the beginning of the book irritated me.

The author's choice to include the fact that Ma still breastfed her five year old, really freaked me out too. I understand there wasn't really a reason for her to stop breastfeeding since the nutrients are good for a child and there weren't social customs that she had to adhere to when inside of Room, but for the love of God! By the time a kid can talk, don't you think you should have slowly weaned the kid off? Ma says she had been dreaming up an escape plan for a while and even if Jack were still a baby, wouldn't she be thinking of the future and the "what if" we get out? Ma knew social customs when she got kidnapped and knew them when they got out, but this was one she chose to ignore... for what purpose? Something about that didn't sit well with me.

I know I've used this to vent about all the little things that I didn't like about the book, so let me say now all the things I did enjoy and appreciate about the book.

I know I've just done a lot of griping about why I didn't like Jack's perspective as the narrator, but I still thought it was a very valuable perspective to take. I thought it was unique to tell the story through the eyes of one born in captivity who didn't know their life was basically a lie. Being a child made him much more elastic when dealing with coming out into the real world and I found it interesting to relearn about the world through the eyes of a child. If we would have been told the story through his Ma's eyes, I felt it would have completely changed the theme of the story and the tone of the book would have been incredibly different. Our views of Room would have held a much different feeling than Jack's and would have perhaps felt more like a thriller to me than it is. I appreciate that the story doesn't have a tone of bitterness like it might if an adult or older child were telling the story. Getting out of Room for Jack is more like visiting a new world and I appreciate that while he has some separation anxiety, everything is met with more of a quizzical and interested eye.

Meeting the other family members and getting Jack away from Ma was maybe my favorite part of the book. Jack was a little more like most five year olds and even though he struggled with his separation of Ma, I think it was so good for him to get away from her to learn about social customs, norms, and objects from those who had been "Outside". Steppa might have been my favorite character to meet in the "Outside" since he seems to be the most laid back and understanding of them all.

The characters felt round and dynamic and I appreciated the many aspects of the characters' thoughts and feelings that the author was able to depict in so short a novel. There were at times spots where I wished there were perhaps a few more details of characters (physical traits) that I wish we could have seen, but I understand that a five year old may not find those traits the most important. Because of this, some of the characters felt a little less real to me since I had to completely make up what they might look like on my own.

While there were definitely things I appreciated and liked, they did not outweigh the irritating things and so I did not feel able to give this book as many stars as I would like. I would love to read a book about kidnapping and people held hostage again (If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch was a great book relating to this), but the POV Room was told through and the way in which much of the information was presented was something I just couldn't get past. I think I may enjoy the movie better than the book since they may be able to grab hold of and display the visuals of Room and the emotions of all the people much better than Jack's perspective in the book is able to. ( )
  courty4189 | Mar 24, 2021 |
Amazing. I think the ending fit perfect and totally closed these characters even though I didn't want to leave them. ( )
  purple_pisces22 | Mar 14, 2021 |
Emma Donoghue has reached into my chest, grabbed hold of my heart, ripped it out and then thrown it with tremendous force into the sun which then exploded into a million pieces. That's what it felt like to read this tremendous, emotional novel of a young boy who lives the first five years of his life in captivity with his mother, both prisoners in the Room. I was going to quote choice bits from the novel but I realized I'd be quoting so much of it, I might as well quote the whole thing. I now see why so many of my fellow bibliophiles wouldn't stop talking about this book the year it first came out.

Content warning: Room contains discussion/descriptions of abuse, rape, assault, kidnapping, miscarriages/abortions, and non-explicitly written violence. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
4/5 ( )
  TashaMorwell | Feb 24, 2021 |
I, like many other people, didn't want to read this book because I thought "how can a book set in one room in a child's head be good". Well, surprise - I loved it. You get used the narrative voice almost right away and it is the thing, in the end, that just tugs at your heart strings. I cried, numerous times, not for the obvious reasons but for the poignancy of lost childhood memories. ( )
  FurbyKirby | Jan 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 892 (next | show all)
Room is disturbing, thrilling, and emotionally compelling. Emma Donoghue has produced a novel that is sure to stay in the minds of readers for years to come.
added by lkernagh | editQuill & Quire, Dory Cerny (Oct 1, 2010)
 
This is a truly memorable novel, one that can be read through myriad lenses — psychological, sociological, political. It presents an utterly unique way to talk about love, all the while giving us a fresh, expansive eye on the world in which we live.
 
the book’s second half is less effective than its first. Perhaps this is inevitable given the changed circumstances of the protagonists. The walls that enclosed them also intensified their drama.
 
Wrenching, as befits the grim subject matter, but also tender, touching and at times unexpectedly funny.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Aug 1, 2010)
 
Donoghue's great strength -- apart from her storytelling gift -- is her emotional intelligence. We get just enough information to feel uncomfortable -- and therefore, to question our assumptions about how family life ought to be; and to know that life will always be an unequal struggle.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donoghue, Emmaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Archer, EllenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borówka, EwaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buhl, VirginieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Friedman, MichalNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glasnovik, NegicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gontermann, ArminTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Güven, Gül ÇağalıTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gundersen, Inge UlrikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Javādī, MuḥamadTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mejak, TeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petkoff, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rocca, Chiara SpallinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smits, ManonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
So-yŏng, YuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toren, SuzanneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torrescasana, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vázquez Nacarino, EugeniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volhejnová, VeronikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zhang, DingqiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
My Child

Such trouble I have.

And you sleep, your heart is placid;

you dream in the joyless wood;

in the night nailed in bronze,

in the blue dark you lie still and shine.

Simonides (C. 556-468 BCE), "Danae" (tr. Richmond Lattimore)
Dedication
Room is for Finn & Una, my best works.
First words
Today I'm five.
Quotations
In Room I was safe and Outside is the scary.
In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. Even Grandma often says that, but she and Steppa don't have jobs, so I don't know how persons with jobs do the jobs and all the living as well. In Room me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter all over the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there's only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on to the next bit.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful--and attempts a nail-biting escape.

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Book description
The entire story is told from the perspective of a 5 year old little boy. Room is his entire world. Where he was born and grew up. It's where he lives with his Ma as they learn & read & eat & sleep & play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in Wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough. not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
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Hachette Book Group

3 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0316098337, 1607886278, 031612057X

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