Reviews in 200 Words

Room by Emma Donoghue

In Novel on September 22, 2010 at 11:43 am

In creative writing classes, even early on, one of the firm rules is, no child narrators. It tends to be too difficult to genuinely achieve the right balance between curiosity and inaccuracy in a way that comes off as unique rather than simply annoying. Donoghue pulls it off in a way that changes everything: the way Harper Lee did back in 1960. Jack is five; he and Ma live in an eleven by eleven foot room. The situation isn’t entirely clear, of course, and if it were, the story would be horrific. Every thing in the room is a character; every task of the daily routine an adventure. The circumstances are lovely and creepy at once. Old Nick visits weekly, sometimes several times a week, to bring groceries and necessities. And to do other things. Jack climbs into the wardrobe each night, in case Old Nick stops by; if he doesn’t come, Jack gets to sleep the rest of the night in bed with Ma. Jack counts things: teeth, creeks made by the bed, seconds, everything, even when he doesn’t want to. This story causes discomfort, but in a muted way. This life makes isolation and confinement fully realized.       

-Micah Ling

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