Room by Emma Donoghue
Author: Emma Donoghue
Genre: Fiction (Contemporary)
Publisher/Publication Date: Little, Brown and Company (9/13/2010)
Source: My public library
Rating: Liked, much to my surprise!
Did I finish?: Yes, in very nearly record time (three hours).
One-sentence summary: Five-year old Jack recounts life in 'Room', a 12 by 12 shed where he is imprisoned with his mother.
Reading Challenges: British Books
Do I like the cover?: Yes, although it sort of has a Bad Seed/murderous child feel to it; I vastly prefer the Picador paperback version.
First line: Today I'm five.
Did... I slightly go nuts with toddler overload near the start of the novel?: YES. Jack's a very toddler-y toddler and for about two minutes, I thought I wouldn't be able to finish the novel, I was so aggravated with the kid! (Good mom, I am not.)
Did... I often hold my breath during scenes because I was racing through them?: YES. Some, out of horror (be over, be over!) and some because they were so exciting.
Did... I occasionally forget this book is set in the US?: Yes. Weird little language things happened now and then that felt British rather than American, like the way Jack and Ma would say 'cunning'.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, depending on your fancy -- it's worth a read!
Why did I get this book?: My new book group selected it as their June read, so that prompted me to consider reading it -- but I was convinced after Emma Donoghue's reading in May.
Review: Confession: I was not planning to read Room. Ever. I'm a big weenie about violence toward women, and I'm pretty fastidious, so all the sort of earthy details about breastfeeding and poo and pee and giving birth in a shed would be, I was sure, just too much for me.
But Room, while having such a disturbing premise (and unembarrassed mentions of bodily functions), was remarkably enjoyable. (Am I totally warped for saying that?)
I'm not going to be able to say anything original about the plot nor the writing, so I won't try. And really, my reading of Room was very much shaped by what I'd heard about it, and what I heard Emma Donoghue say about it. I picked up the book knowing it wasn't going to be as monstrous as a rape thriller, and so I felt safe letting Donoghue take my hand into this horrific situation.
But I have to tell you -- I found the second half of the book more upsetting than the first. If you're going to read Room and the basic gist hasn't been spoiled for you, skip this paragraph now just in case. While obviously the events in the first part of the book were shocking and horrifying and disturbing, I found I got more agitated at the second half, mostly at Ma's relatives. I wanted to throttle her father and slap her mother at times; I hated her brother and his wife. They seemed so callously oblivious!
The novel ended with a hopeful note that I needed and while I'm still chewing over Jack and Ma (what will they be like in ten years?, etc.), I don't feel utterly traumatized or in need of brain bleach. I'm not sure Room will be a reread for me the way Donoghue's other books are, but I'm glad I didn't wimp out on this one. (Thanks, bookclub!)