To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. 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 is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
©2010 Emma Donoghue (P)2010 Hachette Audio
"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)
"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)
"This is a truly memorable novel, one that can be read through myriad lenses - psychological, sociological, political. It presents an utterly unique way to talk about love, all the while giving us a fresh, expansive eye on the world in which we live." (The New York Times Book Review)
I loved this book, and listened to it a second time with my mother. It is a book that wants to be shared. My memories of my early years with her were evoked by this book. The narrators, especially "Jack", were fantastic. Initially it appears to be primarily a story about a child--who adapts and flourishes in a truly horrible situation, and then adjusts to an entirely new experience. It makes believable, in a very personal way, children's ability to tolerate and grow as long as they are loved, no matter what the impoverished circumstances they are born to. However, the more profound story is that of Jack's mother, whose adaptation to abuse, deprivation, and loneliness was much more difficult because she was an adult when it began, and became a mother soon thereafter. The gift of her commitment to her child's safe and happy life, under terrible circumstances, is remarkable. The book deserves the accolades it has received, and the narration here is a worthy presentation of it.
I tried, but I couldn't like this book. Might have been better to read it. Relentlessly precocious childlike voices annoy me. It's an unusual story, hence two credits, but I was so aware of the adult logic and sophistication behind the cuteness of Jacks narration, that it felt hopelessly mawkish to me.
Normally I wouldn't comment if I didn't like the book, but reviews often drive my selection, and if you don't like movies with wise little kids speaking quasi-adult dialog,give it a pass.
This story had so much potential, but had so many flaws. The narration during first quarter of the book was like listening to a 3 year old with bad grammar for hours. The only reason that I continued the book is because I was held hostage on an airplane and was able to fast-forward. Jack was able to go from reading at an adult level to talking like a 2 year old. The controversy over breast feeding was also handled very poorly by the author. It seemed like she just wanted you to react to the comments. I have listened to over 100 audiobooks and this one is at the bottom.
The little kid voice is excruitiating to listen to for hours on end. The book is very good, very worth reading but I would definitely buy it in print. It's tortuous to listen to the exaggerated baby voice of the 5-year-old.
I bought it because it was one of the best rated books on Audible. Unfortunately, the other reviewers seem to be assessing just the book and not the narration.
I tried to power through- sometimes narrators grow on you- I only made it to the first hour. I've heard its a great book and plan to read it, because I can't stand listening to it. The child's voice is grating.
This seems like a creative story idea, which I am sure will likely make a fantastic movie...but this audiobook presentation is unlistenable. I barely got an hour or two into this and had to give up, as most of it is narrated in a little kid's voice as events are described with the thought and speech patterns of a young child (sometimes, very unconvincingly)...after a short while it began to grate on my nerves to such a degree I don't think I will ever revisit this. It is like being stuck in the car with someone else's chatty 5 year old...who you begin to realize is describing some horrific abuse. I can't imagine how they chose this presentation...who could possibly listen to this for hours and hours?!?!
To give the narrator credit, she is actually very good at capturing the whining of the four year old in the story. So if you think a little kid whining is cute, the narration is good. Otherwise, be warned.
For the author, the premise is interesting to capture the poor mother and chid's predicament from the child's perspective. But I have a few problems with the approach:
1) there is way too much time spent in that perspective.
2) while I am no parent of a 4 year old, I cannot believe a child that young can know some of the things the author put into his voice
3) and, really, are all that whining necessary?
Overall, the plot and the story is good in its disturbing way... But read it only if you like having a 4 year old kid around you
My book club is reading this and I was excited based on all the reviews.. what a disappointment. I understand its being told from the perspective of a 5 year old, but the diction and narration made it a caricature of reality. Compared to better written novels, I was never "sucked in" because the actions of the characters and the unrealistic results were so far-fetched that it never even seemed plausible. I can suspend reality and buy into most of the first quarter of the book, but it degrades so rapidly in its "realism" that it detracted from the book as a whole. I think the story is an interesting one, but at best it is a mediocre read.
Laura the Listener
I have reservations about this book for two reasons. The first is a personal preference in that I found it too disturbing. But then again, I am the type who can't watch horror movies because I think about them all night and freak myself out, and that's pretty much what happened with Room. If you don't tend to do that to yourself, you could take this reservation with a grain of salt.
The second is that I started to feel a small piece of what Ma must have in the book when she was held captive with Jack: I just wanted to have an adult conversation.
For the first part of the book, I felt the voice of a child worked very well, and in a way it shelters the ready from some of the realities Ma must have faced. But by the climax in the middle, I was ready for a grown up.
The second half of the book had its charming moments, but Jack's revelations could have come from any child, whether in his situation or not.
Overall, a very clever, unique, idea, but I'm not buying the hype.
Although I understand how people may be moved by the situation of a innocent character born into a horrible captivity, I found the tale and narration tedious. Presenting the story from the point of view of a child denies the opportunity to meaningfully analyze the impact of the setting. Also, I did not like the main character's voice being that of a child. It conveyed a flat, emotionless take on a truly sad story. After such wonderful reviews, I was disappointed.
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