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Room
Cover of Room
Room
A Novel
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Held captive for years in a small shed, a woman and her precocious young son finally gain their freedom, and the boy experiences the outside world for the first time. To five-year-old-Jack, Room is...
Held captive for years in a small shed, a woman and her precocious young son finally gain their freedom, and the boy experiences the outside world for the first time. To five-year-old-Jack, Room is...
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Description-

  • Held captive for years in a small shed, a woman and her precocious young son finally gain their freedom, and the boy experiences the outside world for the first time.
    To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. 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's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.
    Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating — a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.
 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature before moving to London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their two children. She also migrates between genres, writing literary history, biography, stage and radio plays as well as fairy tales and short stories.
    She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (Frog Music, Slammerkin, Life Mask, Landing, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Akin, Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 12, 2010
    At the start of Donoghue's powerful new novel, narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. Seen entirely through Jack's eyes and childlike perceptions, the developments in this novel—there are enough plot twists to provide a dramatic arc of breathtaking suspense—are astonishing. Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful, creating exercise games, makeshift toys, and reading and math lessons to fill their days. And while Donoghue (Slammerkin) brilliantly portrays the psyche of a child raised in captivity, the story's intensity cranks up dramatically when, halfway through the novel and after a nail-biting escape attempt, Jack is introduced to the outside world. While there have been several true-life stories of women and children held captive, little has been written about the pain of re-entry, and Donoghue's bravado in investigating that potentially terrifying transformation grants the novel a frightening resonance that will keep readers rapt.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from August 1, 2010

    Talented, versatile Donoghue (The Sealed Letter, 2008, etc.) relates a searing tale of survival and recovery, in the voice of a five-year-old boy.

    Jack has never known a life beyond Room. His Ma gave birth to him on Rug; the stains are still there. At night, he has to stay in Wardrobe when Old Nick comes to visit. Still, he and Ma have a comfortable routine, with daily activities like Phys Ed and Laundry. Jack knows how to read and do math, but has no idea the images he sees on the television represent a real world. We gradually learn that Ma (we never know her name) was abducted and imprisoned in a backyard shed when she was 19; her captor brings them food and other necessities, but he's capricious. An ugly incident after Jack attracts Old Nick's unwelcome attention renews Ma's determination to liberate herself and her son; the book's first half climaxes with a nail-biting escape. Donoghue brilliantly shows mother and son grappling with very different issues as they adjust to freedom. "In Room I was safe and Outside is the scary," Jack thinks, unnerved by new things like showers, grass and window shades. He clings to the familiar objects rescued from Room (their abuser has been found), while Ma flinches at these physical reminders of her captivity. Desperate to return to normalcy, she has to grapple with a son who has never known normalcy and isn't sure he likes it. In the story's most heartbreaking moments, it seems that Ma may be unable to live with the choices she made to protect Jack. But his narration reveals that she's nurtured a smart, perceptive and willful boy—odd, for sure, but resilient, and surely Ma can find that resilience in herself. A haunting final scene doesn't promise quick cures, but shows Jack and Ma putting the past behind them.

    Wrenching, as befits the grim subject matter, but also tender, touching and at times unexpectedly funny.

    (COPYRIGHT (2010) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2010

    Five-year-old Jack and his Ma enjoy their long days together, playing games, watching TV, and reading favorite stories. Through Jack's narration, it slowly becomes apparent that their pleasant days are shrouded by a horrifying secret. Seven years ago, his 19-year-old Ma was abducted and has since been held captive--in one small room. To her abductor she is nothing more than a sex slave, with Jack as a result, yet she finds the courage to raise her child with constant love under these most abhorrent circumstances. He is a bright child--bright enough, in fact, to help his mother successfully carry out a plan of escape. Once they get to the outside world, the sense of relief is short lived, as Jack is suddenly faced with an entirely new worldview (with things he never imagined, like other people, buildings, and even family) while his mother attempts to deal with her own psychological trauma. VERDICT Gripping, riveting, and close to the bone, this story grabs you and doesn't let go. Donoghue (The Sealed Letter) skillfully builds a suspenseful narrative evoking fear and hate and hope--but most of all, the triumph of a mother's ferocious love. Highly recommended for readers of popular fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/10.]--Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty.

    Copyright 2010 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2010
    Five-year-old Jack has never known anything of life beyond Room, the 11-square-foot space he shares with his mother. Jack has learned to read, count, and process an imaginary world Outside through television. At night he sleeps in a wardrobe in case Old Nick comes to visit, bringing supplies and frightening intrusion. Worried about his curiosity and her own desperation, his mother reveals to Jack that the Outside is real and that they must escape. She tells him that she was kidnapped by Old Nick and has been held secluded in Room for seven years. Jack is brave enough to carry out their plan, and the two of them are compelled to adjust to life Outside, with its bright lights and noise and people touching. What is reconnection for his mother is discovery for Jack, who is soon overwhelmed by the changes in his mother and a world coming at him fast and furiously. Room is beautifully written as a first-person narrative from Jacks perspective, and within it, Donoghue has constructed a quiet, private, and menacing world that slowly unbends with a mother and sons love and determination.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

  • Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry "Emma Donoghue's writing is superb alchemy, changing innocence into horror and horror into tenderness. Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days."—Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry
  • Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife and A Change in Altitude "I loved Room. Such incredible imagination, and dazzling use of language. And with all this, an entirely credible, endearing little boy. It's unlike anything I've ever read before."—Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife and A Change in Altitude
  • John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas "Room is one of the most profoundly affecting books I've read in a long time. Jack moved me greatly. His voice, his story, his innocence, his love for Ma combine to create something very unusual and, I think, something very important. I read the book over two days, desperate to know how their story would end . . . Room deserves to reach the widest possible audience."—John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  • Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours and By Nightfall "Room is that rarest of entities, an entirely original work of art. I mean it as the highest possible praise when I tell you that I can't compare it to any other book. Suffice to say that it's potent, darkly beautiful, and revelatory."—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours and By Nightfall
  • Publishers Weekly "Powerful.... Seen entirely through Jack's eyes and childlike perceptions, the developments in this novel—there are enough plot twists to provide a dramatic arc of breathtaking suspense—are astonishing.... Donoghue brilliantly portrays the psyche of a child raised in captivity...will keep readers rapt."—Publishers Weekly
  • Library Journal "Gripping, riveting, and close to the bone, this story grabs you and doesn't let go. Donoghue skillfully builds a suspenseful narrative evoking fear and hate and hope—but most of all, the triumph of a mother's ferocious love. Highly recommended for readers of popular fiction."—Susanne Wells, Library Journal

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    Little, Brown and Company
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