Room by Emma Donoghue
The narrator of Room is 5 year old Jack who lives with his Ma in an 11×11 shed where Ma has been held captive by the man who abducted 7 years ago.
|Room by Emma Donoghue
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It’s where he was born and where he and his Ma eat and play and learn. At night, Ma puts him safely to sleep in the wardrobe, in case Old Nick comes. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where Old Nick has kept her for seven years, since she was nineteen. Through ingenuity and determination, Ma has created a life for herself and her son, but she knows it’s not enough for either of them. Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s desperation — and Room can’t contain either of them for much longer…Told entirely in the inventive, often funny voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of the resilient bond between parent and child, and a brilliantly executed novel about a journey from one world to another. Adapted from HarperCollins.ca
Book Club Ideas
How impressed would your book club guests be if you opened the door with Room on your shoulders, like in this photo by Karin at Reading-Reviewing? So creative! Thanks Karin for letting me share this photo with our readers.
Jack was disappointed that he didn’t get to have candles on his birthday cake when he turned 5, only 5 colored chocolates (pink, blue, green and 2 reds) that his mom saved from the few things her captor would bring her for Sunday treat. Jack deserves to have a blow out party for his 6th birthday, including a cake with candles and decorations with one of his favorite cartoon characters, Dora. Instead of pants, he wanted a beach ball for his 5th birthday and for his sixth birthday, he wants a dog.
Book Club Menu
When the story opens, Jack is excited about his 5th birthday and chooses spaghetti for his birthday meal. The reason he likes spaghetti best is “the song of the meatball”. To make this dish healthier, I made Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs. Serve it with a side salad and bread.
Ma’s favorite cake is banana chocolate. I made this Bananas Foster Chocolate Cake, similar to Ma’s favorite cake, but with a unique spin that Jack could call his own.
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.96 stars (91,759 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4.1 stars (1310 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 4.13 stars (430 ratings)|
|My Rating: 5 stars. This book will tug on every emotion you have. It has one of the most intense scenes that I have ever read in a novel and had me reading until 3 am. A story about abduction involving a child may be a deterrent for some, but even if in the back of your mind you realize how horrible their situation is, Jack’s innocent and amusing view of the world threads humor and a feeling of hope throughout this novel.|
- Do you think Emma Donoghue did a convincing job of portraying a 5 year old’s speech and actions? Did you find any of the prose unbelievable?
- Jack is able to repeat long complex sentences in a game they call Parrot and is able to read The Shack at age 5, showing he has flourished academically in Room. In what other ways did he thrive in Room? What was the negative impact on him?
- Did having Jack while in captivity make it more difficult for Ma or did it make it easier for her to cope?
- Can you understand Jack’s attachment to Room? The doctor states that it will be a mercy if Jack forgets his experience in Room. Do you think his experience there was a bad one? Do you think Ma and Jack should cherish all the time they had together while in Room or is it best forgotten?
- If in a similar situation as Ma, would you have been able to give Jack up, giving him a chance to have a normal life outside of Room?
- When Ma tells Jack to be careful with her earphones, Jack says “I didn’t know it was hers-not-mine. In Room everything was ours.” How difficult do you think it will be to find separation between him and Ma?
- Was Jack’s perception of the outside world accurate? Jack notices that out in the world persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. Did Jack’s view of the world for the first time cause you to reevaluate how you live your own life?
- Do you think the book would have had as much of an impact if it were told from Ma’s or a 3rd person’s perspective? Do you think it would have been better told from the perspective of multiple characters?
- If you were only able to have a new item once a week, what would you ask for?
- What did you find most disturbing about the novel? Most inspiring?
Purchase Room at your favorite bookseller
Emma Donoghue was born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue (the literary critic, Henry James Professor at New York University). She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one eye-opening year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990, she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin. She moved to England, and in 1997 received a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. From the age of 23, she has earned her living as a writer, and has been lucky enough to never have an ‘honest job’ since she was sacked after a month as a chambermaid. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 she settled in London, Ontario, where she lives with Chris Roulston, their son Finn (8) and daughter Una (4). Adapted from EmmaDonoghue.com
Room, an international bestseller, was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prize, and won the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, 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 and the W.H. Smith Paperback of the Year Award.
Other Works by Emma Donoghue
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