Tag Archive | Room

Book Review: Room – Emma O’Donoghue

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I bought this book a few weeks ago not realising it was on the BBC list. I’ve been preoccupied recently with college and assignments and haven’t had time to check in with fellow bloggers.  Catherine spotted that I’d mentioned Room on Facebook and let me know that it was on the list so a big thanks for that.  At last I’ve a review that I can contribute.

Room is one of the few books I’ve bought this year that I’ve actually opened and read from beginning to end. It wasn’t that I particularly enjoyed it….abduction and entrapment is not the most entertaining of subjects to dwell on….but it held my interest sufficiently long enough for me to finish reading it, which is more than can be said for any other books I’ve started recently.

The story is told from the point of view of  five year old Jack who lives in ‘Room’ with Ma who, at nineteen, was abducted by ‘Old Nick’ and imprisoned in a shed in his garden.

Room Emma Donoghue

Through the innocence of a child’s eyes the awful situation is revealed.  Ma and Jack fill their day with reading, exercising (running around Room), making things out of food wrappings, and watching tv.  Somethings on tv, like vegetables, are real, but other things like icecream are not.  People are on other planets in tv.  So are stores. Sometimes Jack and Ma stand up on Table and see who can scream the loudest at Skylight.  They play Orchestra and see what noises they can make by banging and hitting things.

At night Jack goes to sleep in Wardrobe.  The sound of bleeps signal Old Nick’s arrival and Jack counts the creaks of Ma’s bed before going to sleep (turning off).

The fact that Room is told from Jack’s perspective makes the experiences in the story more disturbing.  This is a situation that no child should find themselves in and there is a great sense of Jack reaching an age when he is beginning to ask questions, although he is still very innocent.  Ma tries to protect him as best she can and her efforts are both pitiful and admirable….which leads me to the part of the book I just didn’t find very credible – her escape plan!

Spoiler Alert!!

If you haven’t read Room and are planning to, then skip the next paragraph. You’ve been warned!

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Would Ma, who had done so much to protect her child from ever having anything to do with ‘Old Nick’ really be so desperate as to hatch such a dangerous escape plan? Thoughts ran through my mind of Jack being discovered and being murdered by Old Nick, or not being able to free himself from the rolled up carpet and being buried alive.  After seven years living in captivity had Ma’s mind eventually flipped?

Who can tell what Ma would have been driven to, but this plot just didn’t sit right with me.

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All in all, this was a disturbing read, probably because abduction featured so much in the news over the last few years with the cases involving Elizabeth Fritzl, Natascha Kampusch, and, more recently, Jaycee Lee Dugard. But it was told exceptionally well and very cleverly.  No surprise then that it won the Hughes and Hughes Irish Novel of the Year a couple of weeks ago.  I look forward to reading more from Emma O’Donoghue in the future.

Emma O’Donoghue reads from Room