Sunday, 30 March 2014

Room by Emma Donoghue

It’s easy to see why this book was shortlisted for both the 2011 Orange Prize and the 2010 and Man Booker prize. It is very well written and keeps the reader guessing until the end.

Not necessarily a comfortable read
I found it quite disturbing in places, and despite the fact that it is so beautifully written I sometimes felt unwilling to return to it; I did not want to be made to feel uncomfortable. One of my third year students at the University of Salford where I teach has said that she stopped reading it. I’m not going to give away any spoilers but I will say that anyone who feels uncomfortable should stick with it. It is definitely worth it. An event takes place just over half way through the book that changes everyone forever.  
The details
Emma Donoghue skilfully captures the voice of the five-year old who tells the story. He and his mother are held captive in a garden shed, here named Room. They do escape but life on the outside is more complicated than they thought it would be.
The voice is so well crafted and the characters of five-year-old Jack and of his well-drawn that we are emotionally tied to the two throughout the novel.   
Stay with it
It is definitely worth being made to feel a little uncomfortable. We learn empathy through reading. We can also exercise our emotions in a safe environment. It is, after all, just a book. This one will certainly give you a good workout.    

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