Room by Emma Donoghue- Book Review

I came across this book through an online book club which only described it as an interesting read without giving details about the story. My lack of prior knowledge about the book made its first few pages quite confusing. I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark.To begin with,  I couldn’t follow the long dialogues between Jack and Ma and the space that they were in and almost gave up on the book because I thought it was too slow and I was getting impatient.However,I am glad that I never gave up because once I found my bearing, the story became very captivating.


Emma Donoghue takes a unique approach in Room by telling the story from a five year old’s perspective. This means that we only get to know what is happening in the story through Jack’s view and since he has never been outside the room where he was born; his perspective of the world is shaped by Ma and the TV’s influence. The child narrator approach works well in this book. Jack is also rather endearing and easily lovable so as a reader, you will find yourself drawn to him.
The story unravels well and soon readers get to know that Room is actually a ‘prison’ where Ma has been locked in for seven years. It is interesting how readers get to find out what is happening at the same time as Jack. There are instances when we have to go beyond Jack’s descriptions to figure out exactly what he is talking about. For instance, he describes Ma’s depression as being ‘gone’ and every time she is depressed, Jack says that she is gone. There are cringe-worthy moments when Old Nick comes into the room and gets into bed with Ma and so Jack talks about counting the bed creaks as he sits in the wardrobe. Although the young narrator does not know what is going on, as a reader you will find yourself mortified by the thought of the kind of life he was living.

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Room by Emma Donoghue has different sections starting from the first part where Ma and Jack are in captivity. However, their world eventually opens up and more characters are brought into the narrative. Again, we get to see Jack’s confusion and uptake of this new development.
One thing that I didn’t quite like about Room by Emma Donoghue is the pace at which events unfolded. There was a simplicity that sort of watered down the narrative and at times it feels rushed through. I don’t want to give spoilers about the book but let me just say that the escape from the room was one of the events that happened so fast. At certain points, I had to go back and reread the text to catch up with unfolding events.I think this is because the story is only told from Jack’s perspective so other important events happening to key characters feel rushed or ignored.

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Nevertheless, Emma Donoghue’s Room is a book that I highly recommend. It’s a moving story that takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster and the ride is definitely worth it.

“I look back one more time. It’s like a crater, a hole where something happened. Then we go out the door.”-Emma Donoghue

12 thoughts on “Room by Emma Donoghue- Book Review

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