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Monday, June 20, 2016

BOOK REVIEW// ROOM - EMMA DONOGHUE


Spoilers below, you have been warned : )

I finished "Room" last night, hopped onto Facebook, and immediately saw this headline on the sidebar--
"12 Children Found in Home of Bucks County Man, Who Is Charged with Sex Assault"
I went on to read about how of the 12 children, two of them had been born in the home,

how one of the girls had been given up by her parents willfully in exchange for a paid debt,

and I read about the neighbors who had suspected something - for years.

The story is infuriating and terrifying. And I, of course, instantly thought of Ma and Jack- the main characters of "Room". A mother and her son, trapped in a shack in the backyard of "Old Nick", their captor.

"Room" is definitely one of my top ten favorite books. And while it is equal parts terrifying and also devastating- it is also heartbreakingly hopeful.

The book is hopeful to me for several reasons, but in part because I adore the image Donoghue paints of motherhood. That even in a vacuum like the "room", moms are moms- they make up silly games, they feircly protect their cub, and their existence is the most fundamental need for their child. While reading, I was left with this feeling that Jack would’ve been okay had they never escaped. And while logically I know this isn't true, Jack seems to believe it too - he longs to return to the small room he shared with his mother and doesn't seem to get what is so great about the "outside". Jack had everything he felt like he needed, simply because his mom provided for him. Love. Feels. So many feels.

I should add a lot of my feels for this book come from my own son, James, who is now 8 months old. I saw the movie adaptation of "Room" when he was four months old and those post pregnancy hormones were still pretty fresh. I spent a part of the movie trying to hide the fact that I was crying- because if my poor husband had to see me crying again, well then- then nothing, that poor guy has to see my cry all the time #sorrynotsorry

I saw the movie first- book lover fail, I know - but I was desperate for the story and I resisted reading the book because I knew "Room" was narrated by Jack, a five year old boy. And while I love the movie and I think Brie Larson deserves all of the awards, ever- in typical book to movie cliches, the book is better. But only slightly so, so if you liked the book you should definitely see the movie, and vice versa. While reading it did take a while to get into, because as you might expect a 5 year olds voice is a little harder to follow, it's meandering and disorienting. But of the available option to the author it was absolutely the best one, and definitely adds to the story. Let the record show I was wrong, so - so wrong.

"Room forces you to imagine things that for me are unimaginable. And it is made all the more terrifying because at the same time, I couldn’t help but think- someone is likely living this right now. People are found hidden in homes and sheds, as evidenced in the headline above. So, while the scene Donogue sets is scary, it also feels very real. But that sense of hope and connection is also very real and while reading I never wanted the story to end. If the book had streched out in front of me into infinity I would’ve happily carried on reading.

If you have read "Room", please comment below- I would love to chat with you about it. What book did you read afterwards to fill the Ma and Jack sized hole in your heart? And if you haven't read "Room" yet, obviously I think definitely think you should. Click here to find a copy at your local library.

Happy Reading, y'all.


2 comments:

  1. I read Room several years ago, around the time Jaycee Dugard was discovered. Room was well-written but horrified me as I knew these unimaginable things actually occur. It was an emotion-packed novel, and despite it being narrated by a 5 year-old thought it was very well told. Also, I agree that while the book was a fraction better Brie Larson deserves all the awards and more -- she was fantastic and I felt really carried the movie. Great review!

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  2. Thanks, Whitney! I agree, reading the book when you know people are living it makes it that much more haunting. I've read Jaycee's book as well and found it horrifying and touching. So glad Brie won an Oscar for her performance, she totally deserves it!

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