Room by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Upon reading many reviews *after* I read Room, I came away feeling justified with and having a better understanding of my love/hate relationship with this book.
The plot of Room isn't really a secret anymore. Girl gets abducted, girl is held prisoner by creepy man, girl has baby by said creepy man, girl survives by making her son her #1 priority, boy turns five and after living in an 11x11 room, with no view or comprehension of the outside world, they accomplish the great escape. (That's only the first 1/3 of the book!)
Honestly, when I first started reading this book (well before my book club chose it), I was a little creeped out by the writing style and my own preconceived ideas about Room. I was worried there would be gratuitous violence or scenes of rape or torture graphically depicted.
After my book club chose it I decided to hunker down and push on through. From the point at which I really started reading the book, it took me nearly a week to read the first 1/3 of Room. That was the hump I needed to get over in order to get to the true essence of the story. (As an aside, I started writing this review at 4:30AM, less than six hours after finishing the book.) Once I got over the hump it took 2 days to finish.
Other reviews of this book left me intrigued by what inspires people to write book reviews. This is my first attempt at writing a review and I can say what drove me to write it was solely the understanding I came away with and feelings I experienced as I was reading.
A perspective I haven't seen in any other reviews is that of a mother of a child who started life in an Eastern European orphanage. You might think, "WTH does that have to do with Room?!?" I'm here to tell you, as that mother, it has everything to do with it. The emotions and "ah ha" moments I experienced while reading Jacks perspective of experiencing sensations, after five years of captivity, were quite profound. I recognized many of his reactions as the same ones my daughter had in her earlier years, post orphanage. So much light was shed on the sensory issues I've witnessed my child experience. Although her "captivity" was less than two years and she was taken outside daily, the parallels I found in the reactions Jack had versus my on daughters were at the very least, fascinating. I found Donoghue's descriptions to be on target, especially in relationship to wind, smells and noises.
With all that said, I still admit I struggled with the stories incredibly short timeline, gaping holes in the story and the inconsistency of Jack's spoken language. All in all I do give Room two thumbs up. Any book that causes me to wake up in the middle of the night to write a review deserves at least that.
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