Review: Room

by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Room / 978-0-31612-911-4

I'd never heard of Emma Donoghue before this book was picked for a monthly book club meeting I was invited to. From all the 'mystery' surrounding the book going in, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was easy to pick up on the premise immediately in the first couple of pages, after having read a biography about the infamous Josef Fritzl earlier in the year. What really makes this novel fascinating and horrifying is that the whole point of view is told from the child who has never seen or heard of anything outside of "Room", rather than, say, from the mother's point of view, as in the also excellent "Still Missing".

I have to say that I'm tremendously impressed with the writing style in "Room"; Donoghue seems almost instinctively aware how to not beat about the bush, and provides just enough horrifying and heart-breaking details before swiftly moving the reader along. Indeed, at approximately 250 pages, a fast reader can finish "Room" on a long afternoon - and probably will, because they will find the book impossible to put down. The characters are well-handled and thoroughly realistic - although Jack and his mother might have come off as frustrating in another author's hands, they are always deeply sympathetic throughout the novel as they struggle to come to grips with a world that is bigger and more different than they had expected.

I would recommend "Room" strongly to anyone with an interest in psychology, captivity, and/or "true crime" novelizations. It's a sad but true fact that Donoghue mentions passingly through her characters: Jack's story is not unique. But in "Room", his story is well told and a heart-breaking reminder of all the things we readers are so lucky to take for granted.

~ Ana Mardoll

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