"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue


Last week-end, on a trip home from Boise, my family and I listened an audiobook of Room by Emma Donoghue. This book has won all kinds of acclaim for good reason.  So much so that I feel a little duanted to even try to review the book, like my words won't be good enough in comparison to the book itself. So here is what I've decided to do instead.  I will tell you just a little bit about the book.  Then I am going to give you an annotated list of cool places you can go to find out more information about it.  And I really recommend that you visit these sites.

(Warning: Spoiler alert!) The story is about Jack, a five-year-old boy, who is born in captivity (so to speak). He lives with his Ma in an 11' by 11' room. His whole life is the room and the activities that he and his Ma do together.  He doesn't really even know his captor, who frequently visits his Ma, because she hides Jack in the wardrobe during that time. Finally, Ma hatches an escape plan that involves Jack. It works. Now Jack experiences life on the outside for the very first time and, even though he is now free, it begs the question, when was Jack better off?

Told in the voice of this five-year-old, the book has a uniquely different point-of-view than you would expect. My eldest daughter found the narrator's voice for Jack to be a bit off-putting, but I liked it once I got used to it. If you are easily bothered by odd sounding narrators, I recommend that you read it, rather than listen to it.

Links:
Roomthebook 
A drawing of the room with the furniture and artifacts, with links to sites related to the book. I wish I'd "seen" the room before I started listening.  It really makes you aware of how challenging it would be to live in such a small space and stay sane!

Book Club Discussion Questions for Room:
Often people who put together discussion questions for books obviously do not plan to discuss the book because the questions are leading, lame, or can be answered by simple yeses and noes. These questions, on the other hand, are excellent. I'm in two book clubs and I still haven't been able to talk anyone into reading this book together.  I'm hoping if they see these awesome questions they will choose Room for a group read with me!

NY Times Book Review by Janet Maslin:
Ms. Maslin focuses her review on Jack and writing a book from the point of view of a five-year old.  Jack tells the reader near the beginning of the book, “We have thousands of things to do every morning.” Can you imagine living in a room the size of a shed and thinking you have thousands of things to do.  This review is well-worth the read.


Wahington Post Book Review of Room by Ron Charles:
Mr. Charles really addresses the question why anyone would want to read a macabre story of a woman and her child imprisoned by a rapist for seven years.  He once again goes back to the story is told in the voice of a child, and Jack is happy! I think anyone with trepidation about the subject matter in selecting the book should read this review.

Emma Donoghue's Room Webpage:
It has the book trailer, links to interviews, author info, and lots of reviews like these:‘Astounding, terrifying… It’s a testament to Donoghue’s imagination that she is able to fashion radiance from such horror.’ – THE NEW YORKER; ‘Jack is precocious but entirely believable, his passage out of cloistered innocence more universal than you might think (it’s no accident, surely, that the book’s title rhymes with “womb”).’ – PEOPLE; ‘A novel so disturbing that we defy you to stop thinking about it, days later … beautifully served by Jack's wise but innocent voice.’ – O MAGAZINE

After all this praise I dare you to give it a try. (And if you want to discuss it, come on back.  I'd love to chat about it!)

6 comments:

  1. I thought this book was really powerful and worked because it was told from the five year old's point of view. An adult voice would have been too understanding of the situation and tragic. The little boy knows nothing else but the Room so he has an innocence to his voice.

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  2. This sounds really interesting. Not my usual type of thing but I might have to keep an eye out for it. Thanks for sharing

    The Cait Files

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  3. Ooo, I just got this book from the library. Glad to hear it lives up. - KH

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  4. Wow. Thank you for the review. It looks pretty interesting. Another book to my list. : )

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  5. I am currently on disc 4 of the audiobook!

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  6. I really loved Room and found it so intriguing how the author uses an innocent child to tell this tale filled about horrible things that have happened.

    I enjoyed your review, but I think you're giving away a bit too much in your summary! Knowing ahead of time that they manage to escape would have ruined the wonderful suspense for me!

    I imagine this would be an unusual audio to listen to!

    Sue

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