Emma Donoghue’s Room was my reading group’s February book pick. Although the title is still only available in hardback, the entire group was so interested in the story that we decided to set the paperback rule aside and go for it. To date, Room has really outdone most of the discussions we’ve had with other titles. I think that really says something.
I’ll spare you the details of the hype; if you’re a true bookworm you’ve heard the title mentioned again and again and AGAIN. Some of you might even have decided against reading it because of this hype, but let me be clear—it’s truly a unique piece of literature.
I hate writing reviews that give you the rundown of the story—read the book to discover these details.
The premise, like Nabokov’s Lolita, is a disturbingly sensitive subject. Jack, a 5 year-old-boy, lives in a room where he’s held captive, along with his Mother. The narrative explores the day to day happenings of such an existence. Donoghue relates the curiosity and ignorance of a child of Jack’s age perfectly. The story, told exclusively through the eyes of young Jack, is much more palatable. The topic is almost innocent, when told through Jack’s perspective, as he is completely unable to understand the situation he is actually living. The novel explores relationships between mother and child, family and loss, violence and power. With the voice of a 5-year-old relating this, there are many gaps to be filled, situations to be digested and worked through. There were definitely moments of strong social commentary and desensitization that were disheartening.
Given the subject matter, there were times when I faced conflict over enjoying the book, especially when I was faced with situations that worked to bring the piece to the climax. There were times when I felt slightly uncomfortable in desiring the novel to progress, but reminded myself that the novel was, of course, a fictional account. Donoghue’s talent is abundantly apparent, and her style is effective.
To truly hash through these points, you’d have to read the book. I strongly encourage those who have been considering the title to pick it up for argument’s sake