Room : A Novel

4.07 (769,473 ratings by Goodreads)
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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 162 x 244 x 29mm | 540g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1 [deckled edge]
  • 0316098337
  • 9780316098335
  • 150,770

Review Text

"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
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Review quote

"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 "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 "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 "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 "a novel so disturbing that we defy you to stop thinking about it, days later... This blend of allegory and true crime (Donoghue has said she was influenced by several recent news stories) is beautifully served by Jack's wise but innocent voice... And while a first-person, child-narrated tale can sometimes feel like a gimmick, the enviable trick here is that Donoghue makes you want to stay with Ma and Jack, whether they're in their own private prison or out in the so-called free world." -- O Magazine "a bravura performance" -- ELLE "Only a handful of authors have ever known how to get inside the mind of a child and then get what they know on paper. Henry James, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and, more recently, Jean Stafford and Eric Kraft come to mind, and after that one gropes for names. But now they have company. Emma Donoghue's latest novel, Room, is narrated by a 5-year-old boy so real you could swear he was sitting right beside you... Room is so beautifully contrived that it never once seems contrived. But be warned: once you enter, you'll be Donoghue's willing prisoner right down to the last page." -- Newsweek "one of the most affecting and subtly profound novels of the year" -- The Washington Post "a riveting, powerful novel... Donoghue's inventive storytelling is flawless and absorbing. She has a fantastic ability to build tension in scenes where most of the action takes place in the 12-by-12 room where her central characters reside. Her writing has pulse-pounding sequences that cause the reader's eyes to race over the pages to find out what happens next... Room is likely to haunt readers for days, if not longer. It is, hands down, one of the best books of the year." -- The Boston Globe "remarkable... Jack's voice is one of the pure triumphs of the novel: in him, she has invented a child narrator who is one of the most engaging in years - his voice so pervasive I could hear him chatting away during the day when I wasn't reading the book. Donoghue rearranges language to evoke the sweetness of a child's learning without making him coy or overly darling; Jack is lovable simply because he is lovable... 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
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About Emma Donoghue

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction whose novels include the bestselling Slammerkin, The Sealed Letter, Landing, Life Mask, Hood, and Stirfry. Her story collections are The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Kissing the Witch, and Touchy Subjects. She also writes literary history, and plays for stage and radio. She lives in London, Ontario, with her partner and their two small children. For more information, go to
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Rating details

769,473 ratings
4.07 out of 5 stars
5 38% (293,927)
4 39% (296,645)
3 17% (130,114)
2 4% (33,757)
1 2% (15,030)

Our customer reviews

I finished reading this book about a week ago and I am still continuing to process the enormity and depth of Jack's life. I lent it to a friend right away so I could get her to read it so I'd have someone to discuss the events of the book. I didn't read the book jacket because I didn't want to have any inkling of what I was about to read. It made it a little harder to get into, but not for very long. I'm glad I kept myself in the dark because it made the realization that much more startling. I cannot explain the suspense the book built up, but it was effective. I was invested in the story and also fearful of learning the outcome. It made for a very tense read. This story is told from the point of view of a 5 year old and I initially thought the narrative would grow tiring, but I was surprised at how invested I was in the story and how much I grew to love and empathize with Jack. The most impressive aspect is the emotional roller coaster the book puts the reader through. I laughed and cried and loved every moment of more
by Tony Mah
I''ve started my review of this book about a half-dozen times. In the book trailer (and I hope you watched it), Audrey Niffenegger writes: "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." I picked this book up around 7:00 in the evening. I put it down at around 3:00 the next morning. When I closed my eyes out of sheer exhaustion I had dreams that centered around Room. I woke up feeling dazed and heart-broken. Room is a book that requires intense emotional investment. That's all the warning I can give you about the story contained in this book, so when you pick it up prepare to invest in it and to lose yourself in Jack's voice. I was apprehensive for the first page or so in wondering if I could connect to Jack, the five year old narrating the story but... this worry was unfounded. I'm in awe of the power Emma Donoghue wields through the voice of Jack and think this book should be read widely. While reading this book I was reminded of a human interest story I'd read in the news a while back. In Plant City, Florida a 6 year old girl was found living in horrible conditions. They compared (as this story has been compared) her story to that of Tarzan and speculations were going crazy about her development and how she would be affected by this. While the similarities are not exact, Room brought back the memories I had of reading this story and evoked the same emotional rage I felt. I feel it's important to note that although this book is narrated by a 5 year old, this is not a story for children to read. This is a very adult story with adult themes. That said, I want to encourage every single one of you reading this review to move this book to the top of your to-be-read pile and experience it. There are few books that I really get the hype on, but this book is one that deserves more
by Lydia Presley
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