Book review: “Room” by Emma Donoghue

Room is a novel written in 2010 by Emma Donoghue. The novel won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Rogers Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize, the Governor General’s Awards, and the Man Booker Prize in 2010. The book became best-seller and found thousands of readers all over the world.

The narrator of the story is a little boy Jack who lives with her mother in a small room. He describes their life very brightly and deeply. This effect is achieved through the energetic language of a little narrator. As for me, the retelling of the story by the boy is a zest of a novel and because of it the text is read easily and smoothly. Jack is happy and his innocence and sincerity underline the tragedy of the situation and contrast with his mother’s despair and desire to be independent and free.

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 Jack thinks about the room as if it is the whole world and has no idea that the world he sees on TV really exists. The room is the place where he was born and grew up, the place where he lives with his mother and learns to read and play. He eats and sleeps and his life seems to be very usual and common. In the evening, mother shuts him in a wardrobe, where he sleeps, when Old Nick comes. He cannot even imagine that the world in which he lives is not as good as it seems to be.

The truth is really terrible. The young woman is kidnapped when she is 19 years old by an unknown man who keeps her locked and uses for sex. In a couple of years she becomes pregnant and eventually gives a birth to a son. She has a hot plate, TV, toilet, and sink in the room. The kidnapper gives her food to survive, rapes several times per week and disciplines her by cutting of the heat.

Reading the novel, one may recognize the information from sensational stories from the news, namely the story of Elizabeth Fritzl, a woman from Austria who was imprisoned by her father for 24 years. Emma Donoghue used these reports and, as a result, created an image of the main heroine of Room.

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While for little Jack the room is home and world, for his mother it is a prison where rude kidnapper Old Nick keeps her for many years. She wants his son to have a normal life and does everything for it but her main aim is to become free. She invents a plan of escape and hopes that it will be put into action successfully. She thinks that Jack is old enough to know the truth and tells him everything.

 After the escape victims appear in the news where the reporters say that mother and son are pale and exhausted and are in a borderline case state. Jack is described as underdeveloped boy who is almost unable to walk. But the main characters don’t notice that and Jack enjoys the things of “Outside”: rain, wind and other people. “Ma” is happy to see her parents and to feel the freedom, as she thought that the horror, she lived in, would never end.

The main themes of Roomare the resilience and constancy, the relations between parents and children, the problem of connection between the home and outer world, and reality in general. This is the story of parents and children and emotions they feel for each other. The novel celebrates human endurance, mothering, and love to children, though these things are depicted through such a terrible story.

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The novel itself can arouse many unpleasant emotions and feelings but at the same time makes the reader think over many important things which he wouldn’t think over before reading Room. The book is read with lightning speed and this fact is proved by many readers.

Summing up, the novel Room by Emma Donoghue is a story about the hard life of woman and her son who were made to live in a “prison” for many years. The main themes – children and parents, home and outside, kidnapping, childhood, endurance, and others – are fully depicted by the author through the numerous descriptions and stream of child’s consciousness, as well as through the simple language of the narrator. Thanks to all of these strengths the book is extremely popular. It was translated in many languages and became best-seller in many countries.

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