Reader's Comments
Room By Emma Donohgue


By Emma Donoghue

PBR Book Review:I picked up Room by Emma Donoghue because there is a lot of buzz about it lately and the book has recently been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. Although it’s easy to read, the premise is intense and was inspired by the Josef Fritz case where a man locked his daughter in a basement for 24 years. Room is about a young woman, kidnapped and held captive for 7 years in a modified tool shed where she gives birth to a boy she names Jack. It is though his perspective that the book is told. As the book opens, he is five years old and has spent his entire life inside this room. His voice is unique and one you will also find either endearing and poignant or irritating. Personally, it took me a chapter or two before I absorbed the full impact and cleverness of this approach, it softens the blow of a very disturbing topic and provides a fresh unbiased view on reality and life as we know it. The book’s primary focus is Jack’s limited understanding of the world outside the room. Without giving away any of the book, let me say it an intimate portrait of a mother’s love for her son and the challenges of adapting to one’s environment. The book is original, thought provoking and evokes a bevy of emotions.

Talking Points: I can’t seem to stop thinking about the discipline and strength it took the young mother to provide a nurturing environment for her 5 year old. She gives new meaning to the concept of sole provider. I also found it interesting that Jack was happy living in one room because he knew nothing else. In contrast his mother was not happy. Discussions about the Stockholm syndrome and woman who are powerless are also a natural extension of any group discussion about this book and there is mush debate about using the voice of a 5 ear old to narrate the story.

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*Author Website:

*Other Fiction books by Same Author: “The Sealed Letter” ,“Landing” ,“Touchy Subjects” ,“Life Mask” ,“The Woman Who Gave Birth To Rabbits” ,“Slammerkin” ,“Kissing the Witch” ,“Hood” ,“Stirfry” ,

*Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think the entire book is told in Jack’s voice? Do you think it is effective?

2. What are some of the ways in which Jack’s development has been stunted by growing up in Room? How has he benefited?

3. If you were Ma, what would you miss most about the outside world?

4. What would you do differently if you were Jack’s parent? Would you tell Jack about the outside world from the start?

5. If Ma had never given birth to Jack, what would her situation in Room be like?

6. What would you ask for, for Sundaytreat, if you were Jack? If you were Ma?

7. Describe the dynamic between Old Nick and Ma. Why does the author choose not to tell us Old Nick’s story?

8. What does joining the outside world do to Jack? To Ma?

9. What role do you think the media play in the novel?

10. In a similar situation, how would you teach a child the difference between the real world and what they watch on television?

11. Why are we so fascinated by stories of long-term confinement? 12. What were you most affected by in the novel?

Book Summary
From the Publisher: To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world.... It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack's imagination-the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma's clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it's the prison where she's been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside her own desperation—and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely.... Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience-and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.
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