Posted by: Jeanie F | September 15, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

I have to admit that after reading a summary of this novel I was concerned that the “creep factor” was going to be too much for me. I almost passed it by, but because it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, I decided to take a chance.

I’m glad that I did.

Briefly, this is the story of a woman raising her 5-year old son, Jack, in the confines of an 11 x 11 foot room. They have no contact with the outside world except for a nightly visitor whom the child calls “Old Nick”. See – lots of reason to be suspicious of just how creepy it will be. Here’s why it’s not . . .

First, the emphasis is on how the woman, whom we only know as “Ma”, struggles to construct an existence for her son that is as close to normal as possible. She’s brave, creative, and loving, knowing that she is, literally, her son’s whole world.

Second, Donoghue has done an excellent job thinking through how things would appear to a child whose only exposure to the “real” world is through the limited amount of television he’s allowed to watch. Some of his observations are funny, some poignant, but most ring true. She has invented a language structure for the boy, which for me was unnecessarily juvenile, but it didn’t get in the way of my interest and enjoyment in the story.

Third, and this was important to me, the details of Old Nick’s visits are alluded to, but not described in any detail. As adults, we know what’s going on, but it’s clear that Ma has protected Jack from the more horrifying realities of their life inside “Room”.

I can’t give you many more specifics without giving away the plot, but this was worth reading simply for its originality and the warm relationship between mother and son. Not sure that it’s actually Booker Prize material, but I guess we’ll know on October 12!

Grade: B


  1. I really want to get my hands on this one, and I suspect I’ll be downloading it for my Nook soon. I don’t think I can hold off much longer!

    • Andi, I read it on my Kindle. You might as well submit – you know you want to! 🙂

  2. “Room” is very close to the top of my list of books to read. I’ve read varying reviews of it, but am much inclined to read it because I thought Donoghue’s “Slammerkin” was excellent. Thanks for the review.

    • Haven’t read “Slammerkin,” but I’m adding it to my TBR list. I liked “Room” enough to read more of Donoghue’s work.

  3. I really liked this one and I was relieved to be protected from the more disturbing details as a reader in the same way that Jack was.

  4. I really liked ROOM as well.

    I called it a “creative” Thriller.

    I reviewed it on my site as well.

  5. Morning…thanks for the comment on my review of Room.

    What did you mean we “scooped” Aimee Bender. I guess I am a little “slow” on the meaning. 🙂 🙂 THANKS.

    This is your comment on my post:

    This morning Room was reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. We can feel proud that we “scooped” Aimee Bender on this! :-

  6. Dah…I figured out what you mean…I looked up Aimee Bender on the New York Times Book Review.

    Have a great day.

  7. My book club is discussing this book next week (I still need to finish it)…. glad you enjoyed it.

    I think there will be alot to discuss!

    • I agree – I think this would make a great book club book. When it’s out in paperback, I plan to recommend it to my book club. We have a rule about only reading books available in paperback.

  8. I loved ROOM…I have a review on my blog.

    Question: May I know what shortlisted means please? THANKS.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: