Sunday, May 22, 2011


By Emma Donoghue
Copyright 2010
Little, Brown & Company
Adult Fiction

Imagine your world is an 11x11 room and the few belongings that occupy it. That is the world of Jack in this horrifyingly stunning book by Emma Donoghue. Jack is five and has never known anyplace other than Room. He sees the outside world on TV and he knows it is just pretend.....all of it. Nothing is real to Jack other than this confined area he has lived in his whole life.

Jack's mother, known in the book only as Ma, has been held captive in Room for seven years. Two years into her ordeal she has a baby and thus begins Jack's world. He doesn't know what he is missing because he's never been anywhere else. He knows nothing other than Room, Bed, Duvet, Rug, Chair, Wardrobe and Skylight. But Jack's mother is worried. Their captor has lost his job and Ma is afraid of what will become of them if he loses his house. Jack is five and his mother knows they have to escape. She comes up with a daring plan, focused on Jack. But is he strong enough? Can he do what he needs to do to get them both to safety?

I don't want to spoil the story, so I won't go into any more details. But I will tell you that once Ma's plan is set into motion, my heart pounded for page after page as the story unfolded.

Some positive commentary on the story: The author did a great job of having Jack narrate the story from the perspective of a child who doesn't know any world other than this confined space. Jack's character has such a limited understanding of, well, everything, that there always seems to be something just a little odd about how he says things and views things. The intensity of the story is incredible. From the moment you start reading, you feel the story building to the climax, which actually comes earlier in the book than expected (for which I was grateful! My thudding heart needed a break!) And, for a change, you get to find out a little bit about what happens to the character "after" the main event.

Some negative notes: The entire topic of the book was so incredibly disturbing. An unbelievably evil man builds a shed in his back yard for the sole purpose of keeping a girl hostage. He thinks of everything and leaves her no possible means to escape. As I was reading, I had a sick little knot in my stomach just contemplating this actually happening to anyone. Horrifying does not even begin to describe it.

This was a very quick read. I can't say I enjoyed reading it, but I'm glad that I did (if that makes any sense). I feel it made me, somehow, a better person. And I truly could not put it down.

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