Today we are going to talk about April’s book of the month, Room by Emma Donoghue. But first, let’s check out this book and see what it is all about.
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.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
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.
Questions to think about and/or answer:
- Why do you think the entire novel is told in Jack’s voice? Do you think this narrative approach is effective?
- Discuss the ways in which Jack’s development has been stunted by growing up in Room. Has he on any level benefited from the seclusion?
- If you were Ma, what would you miss most about the outside world?
- What would you do differently if you were Jack’s parent? Would you tell Jack about the outside world from the start?
- If Ma had never given birth to Jack, how might her situation in Room have been different?
- What would you ask for, for Sundaytreat, if you were Jack? If you were Ma?
- Describe the dynamic between Old Nick and Ma. Why do you think the author chose not to tell us Old Nick’s story?
- What does joining the outside world do to Jack? To Ma?
9. Discuss the role that the news media play in the novel.
(From Hachette Book Group)
What did you think of Room?
Mocha Girl Tiffani
When I first heard about Room I was scared off by the subject matter—a woman is kidnapped and held captive in a shed for seven years. During those seven years, she becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son named Jack. Room came out not too long after there were a few big stories in the news about real women who had been held captive for several years. This story seemed too real and too recent so I shied away from Room. Then I listened to a discussion of the book on Slate’s Audio Book Club, and though the subject matter still turned me off I was intrigued.
The entire story is told from five-year-old Jack’s point of view. Jack was born in the shed (or rather the room) and has never known anything other than the room. It’s his whole world. His mother has worked hard to create a safe world for him, a world where they sleep, eat, learn, and play. He doesn’t quite understand why his mother doesn’t love Room as much as he does. I was worried a story written entirely from a five-year-old’s point of view, but it worked. Jack is smart, but not annoyingly so. Somehow Emma Donoghue manages to convey the mother’s desperation and fear, while at the same time showing the wonder of the world as only a child can see it, all through Jack’s voice.
I’m so glad I picked up this book. It is amazing. If not for work and other life matters, I would have finished it in a matter of hours. I actually knew many of the plot twists before picking up the book from listening to the podcast and yet I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen next. This is one of the best books I’ve come across in awhile. Definitely recommend.
Mocha Girl Ash
Engrossing and captivating do not give Room any justice. They’re quite limiting but they are the best I can do. Room is an absolute fantastic read. It’s told from Jack’s point of view. He recently turned 5. His Ma and Room are the only world he has ever known.
Jack’s very smart for his age but is still only a kid. He is prone to temper tantrums and has a wondrous imagination. The slow realization is that his Ma had been kidnapped 7 years earlier by a man refer to as Old Nick. Room is actually an old garden shed behind the garage.When Ma finds out that Old Nick lost his job and that his house will go into foreclosure, she makes the decision to escape. What results is the most harrowing and tense experience?
I was afraid to read Room because I thought it was going to be too gimmicky and cutesy. Only because it was told from Jack’s point of view. I thought he would be a little too smart for his own good but he wasn’t. He was a cute brave kid. I loved this novel.