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.
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.
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
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’