ROOM by Emma Donoghue is one of the hardest books I've ever had to get through. It's also one of the best books I've ever read. While reading this award-winning novel, I was often torn between thinking it was brilliant and thinking it was just too much. In the end, brilliance won out. Amazon named it a Best of the Month for September.
Here is a little about the book taken from the author's website.
Jack and Ma live in a locked room that measures eleven foot by eleven. When he turns five, he starts to ask questions, and his mother reveals to him that there is a world outside. Told entirely in Jack’s voice, ROOM is no horror story or tearjerker, but a celebration of resilience and the love between parent and child.
When I decided to read ROOM, I didn't really know what to expect. I knew it was an extremely difficult subject matter and that it would probably keep me up at night. I was right. With the entire story being told through five-year-old Jack, I have to admit that it took me some time to get used to his vocabulary and speech but once I got used to it, it flowed. All I can say about this book is WOW! This is an incredible story of a young woman trying to raise her son in unthinkable conditions without allowing the horror of their situation to affect him. The innocence that Ma is able to maintain in Jack's mind is vital to his development in becoming a 'normal' kid.
There were times that I thought I just couldn't take anymore of the story but I knew changes were coming. It was worth all of the angst and sorrow I felt for Ma and Jack. Emma Donoghue painstakingly takes the reader through every minute of every day to establish exactly what it must have been like to be held captive while trying to make the best of it for the sake of her child. The lengths she goes to and what she endures is simply astounding.
As their story unfolds, Donoghue continues to share each moment and each new experience in such a precise and methodical way that it only makes it even more realistic. She also has done an amazing job of staying true to the telling of the story in a most unusual, effective manner. She never once waivers from Jack's own words or way of speaking and that is a feat in itself. She masterfully maintains a difficult writing style from a child's perspective all the way through the book. The writing is raw, honest and absolutely different than anything I've ever read in my life. This is a book that I am certain will stay with me indefinitely. That said, it is a book that will not appeal to everyone. I have to admit that there were times in the first quarter of the book that I didn't know if I could stick it out but I kept reading. For me, it was more Jack's way of speaking and the day to day details that wore on me, but then I realized that was the author's intent. She had to show the monotony of each day. This was their life. It was all they had and Ma was simply trying to make the best of it for her son. Once I realized this I also appreciated what Emma Donoghue had accomplished with this book.
Another wonderful thing about Jack is that he tells us his mother's story without even realizing it. Through things he sees and hears, he pieces together for the reader important details about his mother's life even before he was born. Most times, he doesn't even realize what he has actually learned. After reading this book its easy to see why Emma Donoghue has received such high praise. Will I recommend this book? Absolutely, but with a warning that it isn't an easy book to read, but well worth the journey.
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: September 2010