Room – Emma Donoghue


A boy and his mother are held captive in a single room which has become their world. 

Room is told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy who is being held captive with his mother. The boy was born in the room and has no understanding of the outside or real world. Only the games he must play and the places he must hide when Old Nick comes to visit his Ma.

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 creates a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough and devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery.

Room was inspired by the real life Fritzl case.

Outside has everything. Whenever I think of a thing now like skis or fireworks or islands or elevators or yo-yos, I have to remember they’re real, they’re actually happening in Outside all together. It makes my head tired. And people too, firefighters teachers burglars babies saints soccer players and all sorts, they’re all really in Outside.

Though topical, we both found the plot in Room too convenient and sewn up. Even the young-child narration didn’t really work. Rather than a heartfelt innocence’s point of view,  the book had a childish air. Too much was spelled out, over explaining what the boy was hearing but not understanding. The reader needed to be given more credit and the story could have been told through nuanced tidbits of information instead. It felt like the true horror of the Fritzl case was trivialised by this book. We were both surprised Room was shortlisted for the Booker.” – Rachel

Published 2010
Little, Brown & Co
336 pages

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