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Revisiting Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’

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book review of room

Megan O’Grady reviews Emma Donoghue’s latest novel , “Akin,” in this week’s issue. In 2010, Aimee Bender wrote for the Book Review about “Room,” Donoghue’s novel about a 5-year-old held captive in a small room with his mother.

Emma Donoghue’s remarkable new novel, “Room,” is built on two intense constraints: the limited point of view of the narrator, a 5-year-old boy named Jack; and the confines of Jack’s physical world, an 11-by-11-foot room where he lives with his mother.

Donoghue navigates beautifully around these limitations. 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. The reader learns as Jack learns, and often we learn more than he can yet grasp, but as with most books narrated by children, the gap between his understanding and ours is a territory of emotional power.

Early on, the story reveals that Room is actually a prison, with a villain holding the key, and that Ma (as Jack calls his mother) is being kept against her will. Fierce claustrophobia sets in — what had seemed an odd mother-child monastery is now Rapunzel’s tower or Anne Frank’s annex or a story from the news about a stolen child living in a hidden compound. Jack, interestingly, does not feel trapped; that the two live in Room against his mother’s will is not something the son knows right away, and this contrast creates the major fissures and complexities in the book: Room is both a jail and a haven.

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Book review: ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue

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The more you know about Emma Donoghue’s ninth novel, “Room,” the harder it is to assess.

That’s a tricky issue, since “Room” is one of the hot books of the moment: shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, with coverage everywhere. If you’ve heard about it, you know the setup: The novel is narrated by a 5-year-old boy named Jack, who was born and has spent his entire life in a room (a fortified garden shed, really) with his mother, imprisoned by the man who kidnapped her seven years before.

For Ma, life in Room — which is what Jack calls their zone of containment — is an ongoing torment, mitigated only by the desire to protect her son. For Jack, the situation is somewhat different, since Room is the only world he’s ever known. Each is the other’s one connection to what we might call normal life. “Women aren’t real like Ma is,” Jack explains early in the novel, “and girls and boys not either.”

These are the basics, which we learn in the first 30 or 40 pages of the book. Still, to have even that small bit of information irrevocably alters how we engage with the work.

The conceit of “Room,” after all, is to unfold slowly, piece by piece. This is one reason to have a child narrate the novel: to connect us with a mind of which we are not completely certain, so that we need to decode the voice and the story it tells.

Once we know the framework, we lose a kind of purity, an unfettered relationship with the text. That’s not Donoghue’s fault, but it does make for an inadvertent irony, in which the best way to read “Room” may be in a Room of the imagination, a literary isolation chamber, if you will.

As to why this is important, “Room” depends entirely on voice to be successful, and voice is a fragile thing. Push too far in one direction and it becomes a gimmick, too far in the other and it grows obscure.

Of course, it is a gimmick to have a 5-year-old narrate a novel, just as it was for Alice Sebold to write “The Lovely Bones” from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl who had been raped and killed. And yet, like Sebold, Donoghue has other aspirations than merely to see if she can pull it off.

Apparently inspired by the experiences of Elisabeth Fritzl and Jaycee Dugard — both of whom were held for many years by captors (in Fritzl’s case, her father) by whom they bore children — she has said that to frame this story through a mother’s eyes “would be too obviously sad.”

With Jack, however, the question of confinement becomes more nuanced, since he has no experience of “Outside.” Early in the novel, Ma tries to explain; “There’s more things on earth than you ever dreamed about,” she says. “That’s ridiculous,” Jack thinks, “Ma was never in Outside.” It’s a telling moment, both because of the limits of the boy’s imagination and the precociousness of his thinking, his ability to conceptualize the world (such as it is) around him and give it an interpretation all his own.

Such a double vision is essential to Donoghue’s intentions, but it doesn’t always work.

At times, we’re right with Jack, as when he notes that “[i]n Room me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter over all the world … so there’s only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on to the next bit.” This observation comes late in the book, after he has learned more about Outside, but what makes it resonant is that it draws us, almost without thinking, into both his language and his point of view.

Not so effective are those moments when he is less in his head, more directly engaged with his environment, especially the two major plot turns, coming about a third and two-thirds of the way through the novel, in which his bond with Ma is tested and he must (literally and figuratively) strike out on his own.

I’m being purposely vague because I don’t want to give away more of the story than is necessary; here too there is an element of surprise, of discovery, meant to alter how we think of not just the narrative but also Jack himself.

Still, in both big shifts — and they are big shifts — things unfold too quickly, without sufficient context, inconsistent with how the characters behave. “We’re like people in a book, and he won’t let anybody else read it,” Ma offers, in a brief metafictional aside. But even as Jack considers “how … people in a book escape from it,” we wonder at his ability to make sense of everything.

To mitigate that, perhaps, Donoghue repeatedly cites children’s stories — primarily “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Jack and the Beanstalk,” both of which echo the novel in certain ways. Where are Jack and Ma, after all, if not down the rabbit hole, or under the sway of a capricious giant, who feeds on their fear?

Yet for all that Jack (in the case of “Room,” as well as the beanstalk) tries to help his mother, the broader associations get a little tangled, especially when it comes to Alice, who was both a wise child and, like Ma, from a different place. “I’m like Alice,” Ma tells Jack. “…I’m from somewhere else, like her.”

Clearly, Donoghue means to dramatize the back story of every fairy tale: the cautionary saga, the darkness at the center of the world. But if “Room” vividly evokes these dangers, it is, in the end, too limited in its point of view.

“When I was a little kid, I thought like a little kid,” Jack tells us, “but now I’m five I know everything.” Maybe so, but that’s a tall order for any 5-year-old, and even more for one who has spent his life within the walls of Room.

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book review of room

David L. Ulin is the former book critic of the Los Angeles Times. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, he is the author or editor of nine books, including “Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles,” the novella “Labyrinth,” “The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time” and the Library of America’s “Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology,” which won a California Book Award. He left The Times in 2015.

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Room by Emma Donoghue

A Heartfelt Tale of Resilience and Motherly Love

Title: Room

Author: Emma Donoghue

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Genre: Contemporary

First Publication: 2010

Language:  English

Major Characters: Jack Tenpenny, Ma, Old Nick

Setting Place: An unknown American state

Theme: Isolation, Growing Up, Parenting, Voyeurism and the Media

Narrator:  First Person

Book Summary: Room by Emma Donoghue

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world….

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room by Emma Donoghue is a celebration of resilience—and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

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.

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.

Book Review - Room by Emma Donoghue

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue opens with Jack announcing that he’s 5 years old today. We learn that Jack lives in a small room with his mom, and that he’s never been outside of the room. They have a TV, but he doesn’t think anything on it is real – the only thing that’s real is what’s in the room. Sometimes an angry man comes and gets in the bed with his mom; during these times Jack hides in a wardrobe.

Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.

The story is told from Jack’s point of view, and details of why they are there are slowly revealed: His mother had been abducted off the street years earlier by the angry man, nicknamed Old Nick, and she has been held in the room since then. To survive, she frequently had to have sleep with Old Nick, and Jack was born 5 years ago. She created a daily routine to keep her son occupied and tried to make the situation into a game for him.

The action picks up fairly quickly when his mom plans an escape attempt. I won’t reveal what happens next, but the story abruptly shifts in tone after halfway through the book. I thought the first part of Room by Emma Donoghue had the strongest writing, but the second part was interesting in its consequences for both Jack and his mom.

Everybody’s damaged by something.

The secondary characters, seemed to barely reach the surface as though they were only in my peripheral vision. They are understanding, and as helpful as possible, but often couldn’t grasp the nightmare Jack and Ma have survived, while others can’t cope at all, which could have made for some very interesting characterizations if they had been fleshed out more.

This story is certainly haunting , and the characters did hang around in my head for some time. The story of Room by Emma Donoghue is moving and touching in the end, and I can’t say how much I appreciate the author’s portrait of the mother and child bond , which is unshakable, and is what stands out for me more than anything else.

The world is always changing brightness and hotness and soundness, I never know how it’s going to be the next minute.

A note on the audiobook: the audiobook (produced by Hachette) is read by a five year old. A FIVE YEAR OLD. It put everything into such perspective. There was no escaping the narrator, no escaping the truth that you had a boy who had grown from conception to five-years-old in one room. His voice was strong and innocent and perceptive. I really liked Jack, and actually being able to hear him was very powerful. It was also a full-cast audio (which means every character has a different voice) which made the listening experience really brilliant.


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By Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue’s novel, 'Room,' is a heart-wrenching tale of a mother and her son who are held captive in a small shed that they call “Room.” 

About the Book

Emma Baldwin

Article written by Emma Baldwin

B.A. in English, B.F.A. in Fine Art, and B.A. in Art Histories from East Carolina University.

The novel takes readers through their everyday life, which is confined to this tiny space. Narrated by five-year-old Jack, the story takes us on an emotional journey as we witness the strong bond between mother and son and their struggle for survival.

Key Facts about Room

  • Title: Room
  • Published: September 2010
  • Literary Period: Contemporary Literature
  • Genre: Novel / Psychological Fiction / Thriller
  • Point-of-View: First-person (narrated by five-year-old Jack)
  • Setting: Room
  • Climax: Escape from Room
  • Antagonist: Old Nick

Emma Donoghue and Room

Emma Donoghue is an Irish-Canadian author whose writing is known for its versatility, creativity, and depth. She has published numerous works of fiction, including novels, short stories, and plays, and her works have been translated into over 40 languages. Donoghue’s writing often explores themes of identity, family, and the complexities of human relationships .

Donoghue gained widespread recognition for her 2010 novel ‘ Room ,’ which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, among other honors.

Donoghue’s other notable works include ‘ The Wonder ,’ which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, and ‘ Frog Music ,’ which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her writing is known for its attention to historical detail and her ability to immerse readers in vividly depicted worlds. Donoghue’s writing is also characterized by its empathy and compassion for her characters, even as they grapple with difficult or traumatic experiences.

Emma Donoghue’s inspiration for ‘ Room’ was the case of Elisabeth Fritzl, who was held captive in a basement by her father for 24 years. Donoghue wanted to explore the psychological impact of captivity on a mother and her child.

The novel took four years to write, during which time Donoghue conducted extensive research into the effects of long-term confinement. ‘ Room ‘ was an instant bestseller and was later adapted into a film in 2015.

Books Related to Room

The story of ‘ Room ‘ belongs to a genre of psychological fiction that explores the human mind and the impact of traumatic events. Some books that share similar themes with ‘ Room’ include ‘ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ‘ by Stieg Larsson, ‘ The Lovely Bones ‘ by Alice Sebold, and ‘ We Need to Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver.

Readers might also be interested in reading:

  • ‘ Gone Girl ‘ by Gillian Flynn – The disappearance of a wife and the suspicion that falls on her husband is at the heart of this thriller. ‘ Gone Girl ‘ plays with the idea of perception and the secrets we keep from those we love in a way that will likely remind readers of ‘ Room .’
  • ‘ Before I Go to Sleep ‘ by S.J. Watson – After a brutal attack leaves her with amnesia, Christine wakes up every day with no memory of her past. She relies on her journal to piece together her life. Both ‘ Room ‘ and ‘ Before I Go to Sleep ‘ explores themes of memory and the mind’s ability to create its own reality. ‘ The Silent Patient ‘ by Alex Michaelides – A therapist is determined to help Alicia Berenson, a famous painter who hasn’t spoken a word since she was convicted of murdering her husband. Like ‘ Room ,’ ‘ The Silent Patient ‘ delves into the psychology of trauma and the lengths we will go to protect ourselves.
  • ‘ The Girl on the Train ‘ by Paula Hawkins – Rachel, an alcoholic struggling to come to terms with her divorce, becomes obsessed with a couple she sees from the train every day. ‘ The Girl on the Train ‘ explores the blurred lines between reality and perception in a way that’s quite similar to ‘ Room .’

The Lasting Impact of Room

‘ Room ‘ has had a profound impact on readers since its publication. It has won numerous awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize that same year. The novel has been praised for its sensitive portrayal of trauma and the bond between mother and child.

‘ Room ‘ has also shed light on the issue of long-term captivity and the psychological impact it has on its victims. The novel has inspired discussions on the importance of mental health and the need for support for those who have experienced trauma.

The film adaptation of ‘ Room ,’ directed by Lenny Abrahamson, was released in 2015 and received critical acclaim. Brie Larson stars as Joy, a young woman who has been held captive in a small shed for seven years along with her son, Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay. The film explores the psychological toll of their captivity and their struggle to adapt to the outside world after their escape.

Larson’s performance earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress, while Tremblay’s portrayal of Jack was praised for its authenticity and emotional depth. The film was noted for its faithful adaptation of Donoghue’s novel and its sensitive handling of the difficult subject matter.

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BookBrowse Reviews Room by Emma Donoghue

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by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue

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A novel narrated by a 5-year-old boy held captive with his mother in a single room

When I finished this brilliant novel, besides being as locked into its story and world as Jack and Ma were in Room, I had no idea how I would review it. I was convinced there was nothing I could say about it without the entire review being one big spoiler. For me, what made Room so great was that I never knew from page to page what would happen next. Finding out what happens next made it one of the best thrillers I have ever read. I want every reader to experience that. Therefore, other reviews will let you find out more than I am going to tell you. Even the summary on the jacket tells more than I would. I will tell you that five-year-old Jack is one of the most unique fictional characters I have ever met. If Harold of purple crayon fame or Max and his wild things could tell you about their lives in their own words, they might sound a bit like Jack. Emma Donoghue has two small children and has clearly read plenty of books to them while not forgetting what it is like to be a child. Because Jack has only known one other human being for his first five years, his perception of Ma is another wonder of Room . When he is angry at something Ma does, even during the occasional day when she is "gone" and can't get out of bed, his intimate understanding of her is equal to the care she takes with him and is deeply moving. Ma has used imagination and routine to create a safe world for Jack. He always knows what time it is, how much TV he can watch, when the activities of the day will occur. Ma does her best to answer his many questions, teaches him to read and count through games that they play, and keeps him safe from Old Nick. Room is their world and everything else is TV or Outer Space. The author conveys it all through the eyes of Jack. Later in the story as things change, the author maintains Jack's credibility almost perfectly. So convincing are the initial setups of the story that I willingly suspended my disbelief through to the last page and allowed Jack his viewpoint, his language and most of all, his feelings. The themes in Room are weighty and disturbing. Domestic bullying, abduction, imprisonment, varieties of dangerous environments are the stuff of modern life. By filtering those themes through the eyes and mind of a child, Donoghue lays on the patina of a fairy tale. She also illustrates the power of mothering and the heroism of ordinary people. These are just some of the ways we triumph over a world full of terrors. Room will make an excellent book club read with lots to discuss. It may also appeal to teen readers as it contains no inappropriate content and might help young adults in dealing with life.

book review of room

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Room (London: Picador; Toronto: HarperCollins Canada; New York: Little Brown, 2010), my Man-Booker-shortlisted seventh novel, is the story of a five-year-old called Jack, who lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside. When he turns five, he starts to ask questions, and his mother reveals to him that there is a world beyond the walls. Told entirely in Jack’s voice, Room is no horror story or tearjerker, but a celebration of resilience and the love between parent and child.

An international bestseller as soon as it was published in August 2010, Room has sold close to three million copies.  It won the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (for best Canadian novel), the Commonwealth Prize (Canada & Carribbean Region), the Canadian Booksellers’ Association Libris Awards (Fiction Book and Author of the Year), the Forest of Reading Evergreen Award, the W. H. Smith Paperback of the Year Award and the University of Canberra Book of the Year. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, International Author of the Year (Galaxy National Book Awards), the Governor General’s Award and the Trillium English Book Award. The American Library Association gave it an Alex Award (for an adult book with special appeal to readers 12-18) and the Indie Choice Award for Adult Fiction. The Canadian Library Association named it as an Honour Book in their Canadian Young Adult Book Award. The four-voiced audiobook version won one of three Publishers Weekly Listen Up Awards and an Earphones Award.

The New York Times named it as one of their six best fiction titles of 2010 and the Washington Post included it in their Editors’ Top Ten.  Room was also winner of a Salon Book Award for Fiction, an NPR Best Book of 2010, a New Yorker Reviewers’ Favorite, Bloomberg’s 2010 Top Novel, The Week Magazine’s Top Book 2010, and featured on many ‘best of the year’ lists including those of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Christian Science Monitor .  Room was and Indigo’s Best Book (as well as a Heather’s Pick) of 2010, fiction winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards, Top Pick of the Channel 4 TV Book Club, and also chosen by the Richard & Judy Book Club.  Room was chosen as one of twenty-five titles to be given away by tens of thousands on World Book Night UK 2012.

A personal note: Room was inspired by… having kids; the locked room is a metaphor for the claustrophobic, tender bond of parenthood. I borrowed observations, jokes, kid grammar and whole dialogues from our son Finn, who was five while I was writing it. Room was also inspired by... ancient folk motifs of walled-up virgins who give birth (e.g. Rapunzel), often to heroes (e.g. Danaë and Perseus).  Room was also inspired by… the Fritzl family’s escape from their dungeon in Austria – though I doubt I’ll ever use contemporary headlines as a launching point again, since I didn’t like being even occasionally accused of ‘exploitation’ or tagged ‘Fritzl writer’.  But on the whole, publishing my seventh novel – and having the great good fortune to win new readers all over the world – has been a delight. 

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Room has been translated into more than forty languages.

‘Astounding, terrifying… It’s a testament to Donoghue’s imagination that she is able to fashion radiance from such horror.’ – The New Yorker

‘One of the most affecting and subtly profound novels of the year. … For such a peculiar, stripped-down tale, it's fantastically evocative… Not too cute, not too weirdly precocious, not a fey mouthpiece for the author's profundities, Jack expresses a poignant mixture of wisdom, love and naivete that will make you ache to save him -- whatever that would mean.’ – Washington Post Book World

 ‘A feat of both infectious claustrophobia and controlled perspective.’ – Time

‘Heart-stopping… Donoghue’s utterly gripping plot may sound as if it has been ripped from headlines, but there's real art here… "Room" is a big wow.’ – San Francisco Chronicle

'Donoghue has created one of the pure triumphs of recent fiction: an ebullient child narrator, held captive with his mother in an 11-by-11-foot room, through whom we encounter the blurry, often complicated space between closeness and autonomy. In a narrative at once delicate and vigorous — rich in psychological, sociological and political meaning — Donoghue reveals how joy and terror often dwell side by side.' – note on Room ’s choice as one of five best fiction titles of 2010 in the New York Times

‘Donoghue navigates beautifully around these limitations.  Jack’s voice is one of the pure triumphs of the novel… Thrilling and at moments palm-sweatingly harrowing… 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.’ – New York Times Book Review (cover review)

‘Jack is precocious but entirely believable, his passage out of cloistered innocence more universal than you might think (it’s no accident, surely, that the book’s title rhymes with “womb”).’ – People (a People Pick)

‘Narrated by a 5-year-old boy so real you could swear he was sitting right beside you… Room has all kinds of emotional wallop. But what makes the emotion possible is that this book is built like a finely crafted instrument that perfectly merges art and function… 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

"Room" is indeed suspenseful, but the fact that it could well keep you up late, eager to find out what happens next, isn't the extraordinary thing about this novel… Without denying Jack's vulnerability, Donoghue allows an almost terrifying resilience to seep into his narrative — terrifying because the momentum that drives a child to adulthood, that sends him rocketing away from the past, is so relentless and inexorable. There's a wholeness to the conclusion of "Room" that doesn't resort to false tidiness and bogus uplift.’ –

‘Sophisticated in outlook and execution… Ms. Donoghue makes the gutsy and difficult choice to keep the book anchored somewhere inside Jack’s head… Utterly plausible, vividly described.’ – New York Times

‘A novel so disturbing that we defy you to stop thinking about it, days later … beautifully served by Jack's wise but innocent voice.’ – O Magazine

‘Powerful, tension-filled and takes a big risk… Highly recommended.’ – Now

‘Claustrophobic, controversial, brilliant… inventive, tense, and stringently intelligent.’ - Macleans

‘Remarkable… heartrending… Both gripping and poignant, it’s a tribute to human resourcefulness and resilience and extremity, and a stirring portrait of a mother’s devotion.’ – Toronto Star

‘Riveting and original… a page-turner… With a good deal of cleverness and skill, Donoghue manages to build a level of suspense which makes the book impossible to set aside.’ – London Free Press

‘Inventive and disturbing… compellingly subversive.’ – Winnipeg Free Press

‘Somehow, via the narrative voice of Jack and his stoic and heroic making-sense in words of his small world, it breaks free of every preset category. This is a novel, and a child, that will not be confined…. Pungent and percussive, Jack’s new-minted language grabs hold of his constricted life with startling force and zest … The book often bounces along through its profound darkness with a near-comic exuberance.’ – Independent

‘Charming, funny, artfully constructed and at times almost unbearably moving, Donoghue mines material that on the face of it appears intractably bleak and surfaces with a powerful, compulsively readable work of fiction that defies easy categorization. … Part childhood adventure story, part adult thriller, Room is above all the most vivid, radiant and beautiful expression of maternal love I have ever read. Emma Donoghue has stared into the abyss, honoured her sources and returned with the literary equivalent of a great Madonna and Child. This book will break your heart." – Irish Times

‘As a life-affirming fable of parent-child love, and an antidote to the prurience of so much crime fiction, it's a triumph, and deserves to be a hit.’ – Daily Telegraph

‘It takes a consummate writer to make us marvel at the mundane. Beckett's Waiting for Godot did it, of course. So did Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich , set in a 1950s Siberian labour camp. Emma Donoghue does it so spectacularly that we are taken by surprise when, in the middle of the novel, resourceful Ma's escape plans swing into action… Donoghue’s great strength – apart from her storytelling gift – is her emotional intelligence.’ – Irish Independent

‘Both hard to put down and profoundly affecting... Donoghue has crafted a narrative that moves as breathlessly as a serial-killer thriller while convincingly portraying, with the precision of a science-fiction novel, how a boy might believe that a room is his whole world.’ – Sunday Times

‘A novel like no other … The grotesque is consistently balanced with the uplifting and there is a moment, halfway through the novel, where you feel you would fight anyone who tried to wrestle it from your grasp with the same ferocity that Ma fights for Jack, such is the author's power to make out of the most vile circumstances something absorbing, truthful and beautiful.’ – Observer

‘A celebration of the freedoms we take for granted. A gripping, moving read.’ – Time Out

‘The story is told with unsurpassed panache. … Room will certainly be much garlanded, and it will deserve every prize it gets. Fantastic.’ – Readers Digest

‘I’ve never read a more heart-burstingly, gut wrenchingly compassionate novel . . . As for sweet, bright, funny Jack, I wanted to scoop him up out of the novel and never let him go. In him, Donoghue has created 21st-century fiction’s most uniquely loveable voice.’ – Daily Mail

‘Not many writers, though, would have had the courage, or the ability, to visit this particular place and produce such a startlingly original and moving piece of work . . . it is a testament to Donoghue’s skill how quickly that voice becomes acceptable, then endearing and finally utterly compelling, as compelling as the murdered young girl who narrated Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones . … It is a tremendous achievement.’ - Scotsman

'Totally unique and intriguing. It kept us utterly hooked.' - Cosmopolitan

‘Gripping, harrowing, oddly life-affirming and imaginative… extraordinary power’ – Mirror (Book of the Week)

‘A brilliant book, moving, true, funny, desolate and unmissable.’ – Herald (Ireland)

An article I wrote ten years after Room :

The excellent ten-page Back Bay Readers’ Picks Reading Group Guide to Room : Click here .

For an interactive floor plan and lots of other information about Room , check out .

‘A Library for Ma and Jack,’ selection © Emma Donoghue Ltd, 2010.It was so hard choosing just ten books for Jack and Ma to have in Room that I’ve put together a sort of anthology of texts that might help them on the Outside. Click here to read more .

Here is Little, Brown’s atmospheric trailer for the novel:

And HarperCollins Canada’s one, which was a finalist in the year’s book trailer awards:  

An in-depth 40-minute audio discussion of Room by the Slate Book Club,

Reading from Room at International Festival of Authors in Toronto, October 2010:

Interviewed by Melissa Block on NPR’s All Things Considered , 27 September 2010:

Interviewed by John Hockenberry on The Takeaway, 29 September 2010:

A fascinating case-study of the marketing of Room , broadcast on NPR, 10 September 2010:

In terviewed by Harriett Gilbert on BBC World Service’s The Strand, 12 August 2010:

Interviewed by Jenny Murray on Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4, 12 August 2010:

'Bringing Up Baby', Emma Donoghue in discussion with Sir Michael Rutter at a Royal Society / Royal Society of Literature event, 7 July 2013,

Interview about development of the film of Room with Miriam O'Callaghan on The John Murray Show, September 2013

Interview with xtra tv about a queer interpretation of room ,, bibliography.

Viktoria Susanne Herold, '(Dis)attending to the Other: Contemporary Fictions of Empathy,' Doctoral thesis UCL 2023

Ahlam Ahmed Mohamed Othman , ' Truth in Fiction is Truth Infection: A Study of Emma Donoghue’s Room , ' Studi Irlandesi 13 (July 2023)

Jockim Devaraj, 'The Power of Transition and Child's Play in Emma Donoghue's novel Room ' (February 2023)'s_Play_In_Emma_Donoghue's_Novel_Room

James Little, 'Confinement and the Transnational in Emma Donoghue's Room ,' Open Library of Humanities 8 (2), 2022, Special Collection: Local and Universal in Irish Literature and Culture, A brilliant exploration of the novel in the context of my whole career.

Robinson Murphy, ‘Castration Desire: Less Is More in Emma Donoghue's Room ,’ College Literature 49:1 (Winter 2022), 53-79, and adapted into Chapter Six of Murphy's Castration Desire: Less Is More in Global Anglophone Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2023). An outstandingly perceptive theoretical analysis of the novel which considers Jack as a gender nonconforming, enviromentalist figure.

Virginie Buhl, ' From research-creation in translation studies to creative writing: report of a doctoral journey,' REA (Etudes sur le Monde Anglophone) , 20.1 (2022),

María Elena Jaime de Pablos, ‘Becoming Resilient Subjects: Vulnerability and Resistance in Emma Donoghue’s Room ,’ in M.I. Romero-Ruiz and P Cuder-Domínguez, eds. Cultural Representations of Gender Vulnerability and Resistance (Palgrave, 2022), pp.33-52.

Carolyn Gebauer, 'Narrative of Emancipation: Character-Centered Illusion, Cognitive Dissonance, and Narrative Unreliability in Emma Donoghue’s Room (2010),' in her Making Time: World Construction in the Present-Tense Novel (DeGruyter, 2021), 257-175.

Virginie Buhl, ‘Translating Vulnerable Voices into French: The Child Narrators in Emma Donoghue’s Room and Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English ,' Translation Studies XIV (2021), 29-45,

S. Sreelekshmi, ' Beyond the Walls: A Meditation on Confinement and Freedom in Emma Donoghue’s Room ,' Journal of Emerging Technologies and Innovative Research , 8:1 (Jan 2021),

Christopher John Stephens, 'Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E. L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation,' (2020)

Eke Pernik, 'The influence of traumatic experience on a child’s identity development in Emma Donoghue’s Room' (2020),

Andrea O'Reilly, 'Redemptive Mothering: Reclamation, Absolution and Deliverance in Emma Donoghue's Room and The Wonder ,' in Writing Mothers: Narrative Acts of Care, Redemption, and Transformation , ed. BettyAnn Martin and Michelann Parr (Bradford, ON: Demeter, 2020), pp.141-66

Putti Aisyah and Hujuala Rika Ayu , 'Negotiating Motherhood in Constraining Space in Emma Donoghue's Room ,' Paradigm 2 (2): 83, November 2019,'S_ROOM

Kathleen Costello-Sullivan, ' “Stories Are a Different Kind of True”: Narrative and the Space of Recovery in Emma Donoghue’s Room ,' Chapter Four of Trauma and Recovery in the Twenty-First-Century Irish Novel (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2018), pp.92-109.

Ankita Das and Rajni Singh, 'Contesting Captive Spaces: A Reading of Emma Donoghue's Room ,' Journal of English Language and Literature 9:2 (April 2018), chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

Ann Marie A. Short, “In This Whole Story, That’s the Shocking Detail?” Extended Breastfeeding in Emma Donoghue’s Room ,’ in Breastfeeding and Culture: Discourses and Representation , ed. Ann Marie A. Short, Abigail L. Palko and Dionne Irving (Demeter Press, 2018), 149-164.

Noémi Albert, 'Jack be nimble, Jack be quick: A curious existence in Emma Donoghue's Room ,' 2018, chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

Sara Martín-Ruiz (University of the Balearic Isles), ‘Emma Donoghue’s Room : Perspectives from Direct Provision’, paper delivered at conference on Irish Shame, Buffalo NY, 2018

Libe García Zarranz, ‘Corporeal Citizenship: Deviant Bodies in Emma Donoghue's Room ,’ in her  TransCanadian Feminist Fictions: New Crossborder Ethics (McGill-Queens, 2017). Excellent reading of Jack's oddities.

Maite Escudero-Alias, 'The Willful Child': Resignifying Vulnerability through Affective Attachments in Emma Donoghue's Room ,’ in Victimhood and Vulnerability in 21st Century Fiction , 2017, 35-52.

Andrea O’Reilly, ‘ “All Those Years, I Kept Him Safe”: Maternal Practice as Redemption and Resistance in Emma Donoghue’s Room’ , in Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research & Community Involvement , 8:1-2 (Spring/Fall 2017), 89-98.

Margaret O’Neill, ‘Transformative Tales for Recessionary Times: Emma Donoghue’s Room and Marian Keyes’ The Brightest Star in the Sky ,’ in Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory , 28:1 (2017), 55-74.

Samuel Caleb Wee (Nanyang Technological University), '“…Need to Listen to Jack”: The Alterity of Childhood and Literature in Emma Donoghue’s Room ,' paper delivered at IASIL (Singapore, 2017).

Marisol Morales Ladrón,  ‘Psychological Resilience in Emma Donoghue’s Room ,’ in National Identities and Imperfections in Contemporary Irish Literature: Unbecoming Irishness,  ed. Luz Mar González-Árias (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp.83-98.

Margaret O'Neill, 'Transformative tales for recessionary times: Emma Donoghue's Room and Marian Keyes' The Brightest Star in the sky ,' in eds Claire Bracken and Tara Harney-Mahajan, Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland and Contemporary Women’s Writing : Feminist interventions and imaginings (special issue LIT 2017, Routledge 2021)

Kathleen Walsh, 'Mother and Father: The Dual Role of the Single Parent in Room ,' @kathleenjuliamary/mother-and-father-the-dual-role-of-the-single-parent-in-room-e36c62a26dc5

Lucia Lorenzi ‘ “Am I Not OK?": Negotiating and Re-defining Traumatic Experience in Emma Donoghue's Room ,’ Canadian Literature , No.228-29 (Spring-Summer 2016)

Moynagh Sullivan (Maynooth University), 'Mother and Child: Subjective Time, Space, History in Emma Donoghue's Room ,' keynote delivered at ACIS (University of Miami, 2015).

Dominique Hetu, ‘Of Wonder and Encounter: Textures of Human and Nonhuman Relationality,’ in  Mosaic , 48:3 (Sept 2015). Compares  Room  with  Sous Beton  by Karoline Georges.

Claudia Weber, 'Anxieties Reloaded and Fears Overcome: Emma Donoghue’s Room (2010)', in her Televisionization: Enactments of TV Experiences in Novels from 1970 to 2010 (2014), pp.161-82

Renata Brosch (University of Stuttgart), 'Coun terfocalization and Empathy: The Example of Emma Donoghue’s  Room,' paper delivered at 2nd International Network Conference (Durham University, 2014)

Marco Caracciolo, 'Two child narrators: defamiliarization, empathy and reader-response in Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident and Emma Donoghue's Room ,' Semiotica , 202 (2014)

Sandra Dinter, 'Plato's Cave Revisited: Epistemology, Perception and Romantic Childhood in Emma Donoghue's Room (2010)', in C21 Literature: Journal of Twenty-First Century Writings , 2.1 (Oct 2013)

Moynagh Sullivan, 'Lactation, Lactation, Lactation: Places, Bodies and In Between in Emma Donoghue's Room ,' paper delivered at betweenbodies/bodiesbetween conference, National University of Ireland, Maynooth (2013)

Khem Raj Sharma, 'Narrative Complexity in Emma Donoghue’s  Room ,' paper delivered at MELUSMELOW International Conference on Patterns of Story Telling, Panjab University, Chandigarh (2013)

Jacklyn Guay, “Blame the Mother: Jungian Analysis of the Media’s Role in Affecting Further Trauma to the Individual, as exemplified in Emma Donoghue’s  Room and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin ”, paper delivered at Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference (Washington DC 2013)

  Renate Brosch, Stuttgart University, ‘Narrativity and Visualisation: Narrative Beginnings as Attention’, paper delivered at International Conference on Narrative (York, 2013)

Maite Escudero-Alias, (Zaragoza, Spain), ‘Beyond Trauma Narrative: Affects and Attachment in Emma Donoghue’s Room ’, paper delivered at What Happens Now: 21 st Century Writing in English conference (University of Lincoln, 2012)

Sandra Dinter (Leibniz Hanover, Germany), ‘ “It’s like a TV planet that’s all about us”: Postromantic Childhood and Television in Emma Donoghue’s Room’, paper delivered at What Happens Now: 21 st Century Writing in English conference (University of Lincoln, 2012)

  Anne Fogarty, ‘Tales o f Becoming? : Childhood and Adolescence in Contemporary Irish Fiction,’ paper delivered at ESSE-11 conference (Istanbul, 2012)

Marcela  Chmelinová , ‘Emma  Donoghue : Room – Translation and Analysis’ (BA thesis, University of Masaryk, 2012)  

Ann-Sofie Lacroix, 'Jack, the Explorer: Analysis of the Unreliable Child Narrator and the Mother-Child Dyad in Emma Donoghue’s  Room (2010)' (MA thesis, University of Leuven, 2011-12)

Ben Davies, ‘Exceptional Intercourse: sex, time and space in contemporary novels by male British and American writers’ [coda about Room ], (thesis, University of St Andrews, 2011)   

Fintan O’Toole, ‘Future Fictions’, in Princeton University Library Chronicle (LXXIII), Autumn 2010, 407-18. Fascinating essay that puts Room in the context of other current Irish fiction focused on young protagonists.

‘The Q&A: Emma Donoghue’,

‘Living Room’, Emily Landau,

Ron Charles, ‘The teeny, tiny world of little Jack’, Washington Post Book World , 15 September 2010,

Malcolm Jones, ‘No Exit’, Newsweek , 9 September 2010,

Aimee Bender, ‘Separation Anxiety’, New York Times Book Review , 19 September 2010

Nicola Barr, ‘Upstairs, Downstairs… A Child’s Chamber of Horrors’, Observer , 1 August 2010

Declan Hughes, ‘This Book Will Break Your Heart’, Irish Times , 24 July 2010

Mary Shine Thompson, ‘A Room With a View’, Irish Independent , 24 July 2010

‘The NS Books Interview: Emma Donoghue’,

Boyd Tonkin, ‘Room With a Panoramic View: How Emma Donoghue's Latest Novel Aims to Tell a Universal Story’, Independent , 6 August 2010, . A particularly insightful article.

‘I Knew I Wasn’t Being Voyeuristic’, interview by Sarah Crown, Guardian , 13 August 2010,

Emma Donoghue, ‘Finding Jack’s Voice: Some Thoughts on Children and Language’, in Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules , ed. Jared Bland (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2011).

Emma Donoghue, ‘The Little Voices In Our Heads That Last a Lifetime’, Irish Times , 7 August 2010

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Amy J.L. Baker Ph.D.

Book Review: The Room

The child's point of view is often surprising and unexpected.

Posted December 22, 2015

I just completed reading the 2013 book, Room , by Emma Donoghue. For anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen the movie, it is written from the perspective of a five-year-old boy who—at the time the book opens—has spent his whole life in an 11 x 11 room with his mother. The mother and son are captives of an abductor who took the mother when she was 16 years old and kept her for seven years inside the room which was actually a shed on his property.

What makes the book so powerful is that it truly captures the world from the perspective of a child and what the story shows so clearly is that what adults think and believe and know about what is best for children is not always consistent with what children like or want.

From the adult point of view, the child was being abused and damaged because of his constrained life, but from his point of view he was happy as long as he had the love and attention of his mother. Thus, once the mother and son escaped/were rescued (I won’t give away the plot), the child was actually traumatized by the experience. Adults acted as if he was finally safe now that he was removed from his abduction situation, but for the first time in his life he actually felt unsafe. This is not to say that he should have been left where he was, only that when mental health professionals work with abducted and alienated children it is essential to recognize that the child’s experience may be very different than what we as adults and professionals think it should be.

This is consistent with what we know about abused children who are generally not grateful for being “rescued” from the abuser, especially at first. Working with children requires knowing what is best for them but also knowing what feels right to them and understanding that the two might not be the same. Being sensitive to the perspective of the child victim is an essential part of the healing process.

Amy J.L. Baker Ph.D.

Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. , is an author and the director of research at the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection at the New York Foundling.

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book review of room

Room by Emma Donoghue

  • Publication Date: May 18, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316098329
  • ISBN-13: 9780316098328
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Room: A Novel

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Emma Donoghue

Room: A Novel Audio CD – Unabridged, September 13, 2010

  • Print length 11 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication date September 13, 2010
  • Dimensions 5.25 x 1.75 x 5.75 inches
  • ISBN-10 1607886278
  • ISBN-13 978-1607886273
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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Little, Brown & Company; Unabridged edition (September 13, 2010)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Audio CD ‏ : ‎ 11 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1607886278
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1607886273
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.25 x 1.75 x 5.75 inches
  • #56,263 in Psychological Thrillers (Books)
  • #82,018 in Family Life Fiction (Books)
  • #114,395 in Books on CD

About the author

Emma donoghue.

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction whose novels include the international bestseller "Room" (her screen adaptation was nominated for four Oscars), "Frog Music", "Slammerkin," "The Sealed Letter," "Landing," "Life Mask," "Hood," and "Stirfry." Her story collections are "Astray", "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 children.

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book review of room

Book to Screen: ‘Room’ Screenwriter Makes All the Right Changes to Her Own Novel


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Emma Donoghue scored loads of acclaim and accolades after Room was published in late 2010 and now Donoghue, director Lenny Abrahamson and stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are receiving similar praise for their film adaptation.

Larson plays Ma and Tremblay steps in as her five-year-old son Jack. They live in “Room” and as far as Jack knows, that’s all that exists. It’s a windowless 10-by-10-foot space, but Ma has managed to build a life for them there, teaching Jack, playing with him and doing whatever it takes to keep him happy, healthy and safe. However, eventually the time comes when Ma fears that she can no longer guarantee Jack’s well-being, so she devises a plan to break out, escape their captor and return to the real world.

Donoghue wrote a remarkable book, but did she achieve the same with a screenplay? Check out some of the major changes she made and how well they played.

Warning: There are MAJOR spoilers in this article for Room the movie and Room the book.

There’s Minimal Narration


There are a number of reasons why Room is an especially challenging book to adapt, but the one that I suspect could have sunk the big screen rendition is how Donoghue approached the narration. The entire novel is narrated by Jack, which is a downright brilliant decision. Prior to his fifth birthday, Ma basically constructs and lives in Jack’s world. Everything has a proper name - Rug, Wardrobe, Door, etc. - and they operate on a schedule that will keep him as healthy and happy as possible. However, little does he know, certain parts of his daily routine are there to better their chances of going home. It’s a shocking, warped way of living, but what makes Room such a thoughtful, poignant piece of work is how Donoghue presents it all. Rather than throw all the details at you via a character who is well aware of what she’s lost, Jack’s narration lets you view the situation from a completely fresh standpoint, adding a number of unique, powerful layers to the story. Room isn’t just about getting out and getting home. It’s about how the experience changed them and there’s no purer way to convey that than via the perspective of a child.

There was no way Jack could break down each and every moment of Room the movie. It’s tough enough to naturally incorporate just the slightest bit of voiceover, a whole movie’s worth would have felt forced and grown tiresome. However, it also seemed highly unlikely that Abrahamson and his team would be able to find a young actor who’s capable of conveying all of the thoughts and emotions that Jack expresses in the book, but they certainly did the impossible in that department because Tremblay is a revelation. He’s incredibly natural and charismatic, has a mesmerizing on screen presence and loads of chemistry with Larson. Tremblay definitely did his job exceptionally well and then Abrahamson, cinematopgraher Danny Cohen and editor Nathan Nugent took it to another level. They knew exactly how to shoot Tremblay’s performance and just the right moments to cut to him. Just take a look at this clip from the film that A24 released. Abrahamson totally could have held on Larson after she says, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” but instead he switches to a shot of Tremblay during which you can practically see the wheels in his head turning.

There Are Fewer Supporting Characters


After the escape, Jack and Ma strike up/rekindle relationships with a number of key supporting characters. As we see in the film, there’s Grandma and Leo (who’s affectionately called Steppa in the book, a play on the title step grandpa), but the novel also has Dr. Clay, Noreen, Paul, Deanna and Bronwyn.

Paul is Ma’s brother, Deanna is his wife and Bronwyn is their young daughter. I always liked their involvement in the book for one specific reason—the trip to the mall. It’s got this wonderful, darkly comedic vibe to it that highlights how drastically different Jack’s upbringing was from Bronwyn’s. Bronwyn is essentially a spoiled brat who whines to get her way whereas Jack is an eloquent five-year-old who doesn’t understand the most basic things about the way life on the outside works, like the need to pay for things. The more Jack interacts with Paul, Deanna and Bronwyn, the more he experiences social norms and it’s interesting to watch him process them.

Sadly we don’t get this in the film, but what could have been their screen time is wisely given to Grandma and Leo instead. Room is an intense, heart wrenching film and while Grandma and Leo don’t step in and simply save the day, both Joan Allen and Tom McCamus bring a much needed sense of warmth and security to the situation. Plus, the part with Leo’s dog Sheamus might be the most joyful scene I’ve seen all year.

As for Dr. Clay and Noreen, due to the way Donoghue structured the big screen version of the story, they just become unnecessary. In the book, we spend much more time at the Cumberland Clinic where Ma and Jack receive medical attention until they’re ready to live on their own. While it’s interesting to see a doctor’s perspective on what they went through and how to rehabilitate them, Room clocks in at 118 minutes. There would have been no way to do Dr. Clay and Noreen justice while also making Grandma and Leo such strong characters.

It Could Have Been Even Tougher to Watch

room-brie-larson-jacob tremblay-05

You think Jack and Joy’s story was a tough watch on screen? Donoghue had many more gruesome, heartbreaking details in the book. The omission that stands out most is Ma’s stillbirth before she had Jack. There’s no doubt that Larson and Tremblay could have worked wonders with that scene and I think the information could have helped put what life was like for Ma and Old Nick pre-Jack into perspective, but the film certainly isn’t any less profound without it.

Another detail from the book that’s stuck with me more than most is Jack’s obsession with Bad Tooth, Ma’s rotten tooth that finally falls out after eating a bagel in Room. Jack keeps it and has a habit of sucking on it throughout the rest of the book. It’s a cringeworthy detail that you ultimately grow attached to because Jack uses it as a security blank of sorts when he and Ma are separated. Despite the fact that Tooth grew on me quite a bit in text, seeing a kid suck on a rotten tooth on screen might have actually taken me out of the story. And the same goes for the breastfeeding as well. In the book, Ma is constantly breastfeeding Jack and when she isn’t, he’s thinking about it. It’s a vital detail that says a lot about what they had to do to survive in Room and how drastic of an adjustment it is to fit in in the real world, but again, seeing it is very different from reading it.

Closing Thoughts


Donoghue absolutely nailed this adaptation. Room is a prime example of someone taking stellar source material and making the necessary changes to ensure that it plays well, if not better, in a different format. Hopefully you’ve read and seen Room if you’ve hit this point of the article, but what I love so much about Room the movie is how well it complements the book. For those who’ve read the book but haven’t seen the movie, being able to actually see everything play out on screen is wildly moving, and if you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the book, getting the additional details from the source material will wind up enriching the film.

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by Marie Benedict ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 15, 2019

A captivating story of a complicated woman blazing new trails.

One of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen, Hedy Lamarr also designed a secret weapon against Nazi Germany.

In her latest portrayal of a lesser-known woman scientist, Benedict ( The Other Einstein , 2016, etc.) spins the tale of Lamarr, born Hedwig Kiesler, from her late teens in Austria through her success in Hollywood. Born to Jewish parents in a posh Vienna neighborhood, Hedy endures her mother’s criticism while following her father’s encouragement to pursue both science and acting. Although she finds early success with the risqué Ecstasy , the film’s nudity haunts her efforts to be taken seriously. Just as she achieves the respect of her peers as a stage actress, Hedy catches the eye of Fritz Mandl, a wealthy, charismatic older man who owns several munitions factories. Rumored to have mistreated his former mistresses and to be in league with the fascist (albeit anti-Nazi) Austrian Christian Social Party, Fritz determines to wine, dine, and wed Hedy. Once married, however, Hedy finds herself virtually imprisoned and often abused by her jealous husband. Yet Hedy proves invaluable to Fritz when she begins to gather secret information from their well-connected, politically ambitious house guests. After all, who would suspect such a beautiful woman of understanding military secrets? Yet as Germany and Italy begin to join forces against Austria, Hedy discovers just how mercenary Fritz can be. A daring escape leads Hedy to America, where she vows never to be under another man’s thumb. Once out of Fritz’s reach, Hedy not only returns to acting, but also embarks on a new career as an inventor. Remembering the sensitive information carelessly revealed at Vienna dinner parties, she develops a brilliant radio-communication device. But will the American Navy accept such a weapon from a woman?

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6686-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018


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by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray



by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring  passeurs : people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the  Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014


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by Heather Morris ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 4, 2018

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowi erer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas . She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018


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by Heather Morris


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book review of room


  1. Book Review of “Room” by Emma Donoghue

    book review of room

  2. Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

    book review of room

  3. Room by Emma Donoghue

    book review of room

  4. Room

    book review of room

  5. Room Book Summary and Review

    book review of room

  6. Room (book review)

    book review of room


  1. The Room Movie Review

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  1. Room by Emma Donoghue

    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. 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.

  2. Book Review

    Separation Anxiety. Emma Donoghue's remarkable new novel, "Room," is built on two intense constraints: the limited point of view of the narrator, a 5-year-old boy named Jack; and the ...

  3. Revisiting Emma Donoghue's 'Room'

    Megan O'Grady reviews Emma Donoghue's latest novel, "Akin," in this week's issue.In 2010, Aimee Bender wrote for the Book Review about "Room," Donoghue's novel about a 5-year-old ...

  4. ROOM

    A haunting final scene doesn't promise quick cures, but shows Jack and Ma putting the past behind them. Wrenching, as befits the grim subject matter, but also tender, touching and at times unexpectedly funny. 4. Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2010. ISBN: 978--316-09833-5.

  5. Room by Emma Donoghue: Summary and reviews

    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. Excerpt. Room. When she spits the second time it's my go with Toothbrush, I scrub each my teeth ...

  6. Room: Emma Donoghue's Intense Psychological Thriller

    Room is a contemporary psychological thriller by Emma Donoghue. The book was published in 2010 and follows the story of Ma, a woman whose been held captive for 7 years and has since had a son, Jack. Readers may want to know more by the end of the novel. Jack's narration means questions go unanswered.

  7. Book review: 'Room' by Emma Donoghue

    Sept. 29, 2010 12 AM PT. Los Angeles Times Book Critic. The more you know about Emma Donoghue's ninth novel, "Room," the harder it is to assess. That's a tricky issue, since "Room" is ...

  8. All Book Marks reviews for Room by Emma Donoghue

    Emma Donoghue. If Room remained purely claustrophobic throughout, Ms. Donoghue and her reader might tire of Jack's version of events, not to mention Jack's bubbly cheer. So it's fortunate that this novel has the dramatic turning point that it needs. Eventually the spell is broken: Jack and Ma are freed.

  9. Room by Emma Donoghue

    Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue. Room by Emma Donoghue opens with Jack announcing that he's 5 years old today. We learn that Jack lives in a small room with his mom, and that he's never been outside of the room. They have a TV, but he doesn't think anything on it is real - the only thing that's real is what's in the room.

  10. Room by Emma Donoghue: review

    Maybe that's going too far, but as a life-affirming fable of parent-child love, and an antidote to the prurience of so much crime fiction, it's a triumph, and deserves to be a hit. Room. by ...

  11. Book Marks reviews of Room by Emma Donoghue Book Marks

    Rave Janet Maslin, The New York Times. If Room remained purely claustrophobic throughout, Ms. Donoghue and her reader might tire of Jack's version of events, not to mention Jack's bubbly cheer. So it's fortunate that this novel has the dramatic turning point that it needs. Eventually the spell is broken: Jack and Ma are freed.

  12. Room by Emma Donoghue

    Room Summary 📖. 'Room' by Emma Donoghue is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that explores the themes of trauma, resilience, and the human capacity for adaptation. Emma Donoghue's novel, 'Room,' is a heart-wrenching tale of a mother and her son who are held captive in a small shed that they call "Room.".

  13. Review of Room by Emma Donoghue

    A soaring, heartfelt debut following fifty-five days in the life of ten-year-old Rae, who must look after herself and her dog when her mother disappears. For fans of Room and the novels of Jodi Picoult, a dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children, narrated by a six-year-old boy who reminds us that ...

  14. Room by Emma Donoghue

    Room was and Indigo's Best Book (as well as a Heather's Pick) of 2010, fiction winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards, Top Pick of the Channel 4 TV Book Club, and also chosen by the Richard & Judy Book Club. Room was chosen as one of twenty-five titles to be given away by tens of thousands on World Book Night UK 2012.

  15. Room (novel)

    Room is a 2010 novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue.The story is told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Jack, who is being held captive in a small room along with his mother. Donoghue conceived the story after hearing about five-year-old Felix in the Fritzl case.. The novel was longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize and won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize regional prize ...

  16. Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

    Room by Emma Donoghue is the story of an escape of a mother and child who have been confined to a room.

  17. Customer reviews: Room: A Novel

    The cover of ROOM was quite interesting and in the end it was the childishly written word-title "ROOM" that made me read a summary of the book and decide to finally read it. I read the book in a few days, but there were a few things that caused some ambiguity about the story of Jack and Ma in the 11' x 11' room as their home for seven years.

  18. Book Review: The Room

    Posted December 22, 2015. I just completed reading the 2013 book, Room, by Emma Donoghue. For anyone who hasn't read the book or seen the movie, it is written from the perspective of a five-year ...

  19. Room by Emma Donoghue

    A site dedicated to book lovers providing a forum to discover and share commentary about the books and authors they enjoy. Author interviews, book reviews and lively book commentary are found here. Content includes books from bestselling, midlist and debut authors.

  20. Room: A Novel: 9780316098335: Donoghue, Emma: Books

    Room: A Novel. Hardcover - Deckle Edge, September 13, 2010. by Emma Donoghue (Author) 31,541. Editors' pick Best Literature & Fiction. See all formats and editions. 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.

  21. Room: A Novel

    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."― ... Book reviews & recommendations : IMDb Movies, TV & Celebrities: IMDbPro Get Info Entertainment Professionals Need: Kindle Direct Publishing Indie Digital & Print Publishing Made ...

  22. Room: Movie vs Book Comparisons and Similarities

    Book to Screen: 'Room' Screenwriter Makes All the Right Changes to Her Own Novel. Emma Donoghue scored loads of acclaim and accolades after Room was published in late 2010 and now Donoghue ...


    This is a low point for Hunter's writing; elsewhere in the novel, it's stronger. Still, the characters remain flat and unknowable, while the novel itself is predictable. At this point, more than half a century's worth of fiction and film has been inspired by the Holocaust—a weighty and imposing tradition.

  24. King is doing fine but won't do what he's told, says Queen

    In March, her book club's first scientific study found that five minutes of reading a day is as valuable to mental wellbeing as walking 10,000 steps and eating five portions of fruit and vegetables.


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