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Bending the Spine

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
Audio CD, Unabridged
Published September 6th 2010 by Hachette Audio
ISBN: 1607886278 (ISBN13: 9781607886273)
literary awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (2010), Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book in Caribbean and Canada (2011), Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction, Nominee for Favorite Heroine (2010), ALA Alex Award (2011), Indies Choice Book Award for Fiction (2011), Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award for Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year (2010), Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize (2010)
Room is one of those rare books that come along every so often that is a book of contradictions.  I love it, I hate it.  It’s beautiful, it’s horrible.  It left me disturbed, and strangely comforted.
Being told from Jack’s perspective is a novel (pun intended) idea.  I liked this about it, but I was also terribly annoyed by it.  I have an almost 5 year-old she doesn’t call nouns by their proper noun form: a bed, is not “Bed,” nor is a rug “Rug.”  Seriously, this got on my nerves so bad I almost gave up on this altogether.  However, I hate not finishing a book.  So, I bit the bullet so to speak and persevered.  While in Room, Jack had conversations with Ma, they watched TV, so, I feel he should have been able to talk like a 5 year-old.  My 2 year-old doesn’t even talk like that.
Another complaint I have is that *SPOILER ALERT* Ma tries to commit suicide after the “Great Escape.”  I’m not buying it.  All she wanted while in Room was to escape or be rescued.  Now, after she finally gets what she wants, she can’t deal with it.  Really?  Cop out.  Drama for the sake of drama.  And it annoyed me.
As a reader (listener) I was challenged to see life and society through Jack’s eyes.  To see the lunacy and idiocy of our modern lives.  Things that we take for granted were completely new to him, sometimes misunderstood, and often laughed at.  And then I moved on.  I was aware of all this while reading Room, but haven’t given it much thought since.  The author both awed me at times with Jack’s perspective, and made me completely insane with his stubbornness and immovability.
2 Stars: This book had gotten such rave reviews and I can see why, I’m just not sure I’m buying into it.
Many Adventures,

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