Book review: ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue

Thinking about which book to read next, I thought I’d get one out of the way that I’d bought a few weeks ago in a bargain bookshop, purely because it was £2 and I needed something that price to take me over the shop’s minimum £5 spend to pay on card.

It was a book I’d heard of before, and although it had been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize sometime in the last couple of years, I thought it looked like the type of thing women throw in their trolleys next to the broccoli during their weekly shop.

‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue is the definition of not judging a book by its cover. A blurred image of a small child sitting against a wall ruminates with sob stories and tales of child abuse in novel format; something along the lines of A Boy Called It, and others of this kind. I’d be tempted to rip off the cover before passing it onto someone else to read, because what I found inside was one of the best books I’ve read in years.

Not the best cover to sell a story with

Room is narrated by five year old Jack, the child who was born in Room and who consequently knows nothing of the outside world. Room is his world, as is everything inside it, and he is happy there. His mother, however, is not. She knows the world exists and is desperate to be a part of it again, and the book tells the story of their daily lives through Jack’s eyes.

The creativity of Jack’s mother is unbelievable; from the activities that fill their days to the knowledge she has taught Jack, ensuring he doesn’t miss out on the education other kids his age would be getting.

I won’t lie, the first night I started reading this I was downright depressed. Never has a book made me want to turn prematurely to the last page to make sure it all ends alright (though I resisted), and from then on I couldn’t put it down. I read it in two days in the end.

Jack’s narration is hilarious at times too. The thoughts that swim around a child’s head are more entertaining that most books themselves and the character this builds is fantastic. Jack’s tendency to make all of his belongings proper nouns too is great. It took me a few pages to accept that table now starts with a capital T and is its name as if it were a friend, but this is the endearing type of thing to be found in Room, literally.

A book filled with an aura of Joseph Fritzel might not sound enjoyable or to many people’s tastes but this really is a book I’d recommend everyone read at some point. I hope I’ve done it justice without including any spoilers, now go and read it!

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