Room by Emma Donoghue (Review)

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By Emma Donoghue

Mass Market Paperback

ISBN: 978-0316268356

© 2010

$7.99 USD

Also Available in Trade Paper and E-Book Editions

Some highly educated people claim that literature isn’t published anymore.  My father used to say that.

Room, the 2010 novel by Emma Donoghue, is one of the exceptions to that rule.

You might recall a California kidnap victim named Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was missing for eighteen years before being freed in 2009.  She had two children by then, both fathered by her kidnapper.

There is no indication that Room is based on that crime.  The novel must have taken more than a year to write, and the characterizations have depth which is impossible to achieve in an instant book.

There are other kidnap victims who have been held in captivity for years before being freed, and each of their experiences is unique.  Although Room is a very plausible story, readers should not assume this book speaks for anyone who has been through that trauma.

Room is told from the point of view of a five year-old child, Jack, who was born approximately two years after his mother’s abduction.  At the beginning of the novel, Jack has never seen anything outside of the small space he and his mother share.

I’ll be careful not to say too much.  However, anyone considering reading this book should be aware that it is not sensational.  The author shows respect for the human condition, and it’s likely the initial public curiosity was stimulated by news coverage of Ms. Dugard’s ordeal.  It is not a common trashy bestseller, and if anyone bought the book on the assumption that it was lurid I hope the person actually got around to reading the novel and learned otherwise.

Jack is a fascinating character who relies on instinct as well as guidance he receives from his loving but overwhelmed mother.  Although the scenario is horrifying, Room depicts the human spirit at its best.

Enough has been said.  Now, please read this book, if you haven’t already.

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