Book Review – ROOM by Emma Donoghue

Room Synopsis
Jack is five, and excited about his birthday. He lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures eleven feet by eleven feet. He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the other things in Room. Until the day Ma admits that there’s a world outside…

Told in Jack’s voice, Room is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible. Unsentimental and sometimes funny, devastating yet uplifting, Room is a novel like no other.

Book Review

When I first heard about Room, I admit I was a little hesitant to read it, worried that I would find the subject matter unbearably sad and depressing. I had also heard of it being written in the special language shared between the characters Jack and Ma and was wary of it resulting in something gimmicky.

It turns out my initial hesitation and wariness was completely unfounded. Donoghue has achieved the seemingly unachievable – conveying this story with a genuine sense of heart without a hint of indulgence or cliché sentimentality. The unique language spoken by Jack (the narrator) is the key to the success of this novel. This language forms the basis for what is intentionally very spare prose. The writing style mirrors beautifully the stark circumstance of the characters and against that back drop the simple yet indescribable bond between mother and son is allowed to shine through.

In Room, Emma Donoghue has captured the uncompromising honesty and optimistic curiosity that exists only in the mind of a child.

On a broader level, this is a story about having clarity of purpose and the things people can endure when they have that. To that end, this book has the power to shape thinking.

SubscribeOnce I began reading, I could not drag myself away from this novel. Room is a book that lingers and I am the better for having read it.

A very big thank you to Nancy at The Year In Books for sending me a copy of this novel – a true gift.

Note: Several book reviewers whose literary opinion I hold in high regard did not enjoy this book. This appears to be one of those love it or hate it novels.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5

BOOK DETAILS: Room (The Book Depository); Room (Audible); Room (Amazon); Room (

Genre: Literature, Drama

About the Author: Emma Donoghue (born 24 October 1969) in Dublin is a playwright, literary historian and novelist now living in Canada. Her 2010 novel Room was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize 2010  and an international bestseller. See Emma Donoghue’s website for more biographical information and her collection of novels and short stories.

Emma Donoghue’s Room has been shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize – see article ‘Orange Prize Longlist tackles difficult subjects – and alligators’

Other Reviews Of Room by Emma Donoghue : Newsweek ; Readings ; ANZ Lit Lovers

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  1. says

    I liked this book as well. It was an easy read but I think that might be great for people who don’t read alot but at the same time want the content a bit heavier than other easy reads. I have a lot of the same feeling as you, it was difficult to put down and I also feel that I would have missed something if I hadn’t read this book. I was so lucky that I hadn’t heard about the book before I bought it in one of London’s airports.

  2. says

    I loved it too…particularly the fact that it was narrated by a 5 year old. I found myself trying to imagine the same book written from Ma’s point of view and that probably would not have had as much impact and may have needed more suspense and twists and turns to appeal to an audience.

  3. Carole Westbrook says

    I loved this book too. I couldn’t put it down;I read it more quickly than any other book. I was intrigued by the story and how the author gradually let the reader in on the actual circumstances of Ma and Jack. I loved Jack’s perspective on his world in “Room” and even more when he was Outside, seeing everything for the first time through his innocent eyes. The incredible bond between mother and son, and her willingness to do anything for him showed her strength of character especially when he wanted to return to “Room”.

  4. Melissa says

    I loved this book. I read it in one night. The fact that it was written from the perspective of a 5 year old was very effective. I’ve recommended this to all my friends!


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