by Emma Donoghue

Read time: about 4 minutes

Emma Donoghue is considered to be amongst the most influential women authors. Her book, Room, inspired the movie by the same name which went on to win Oscar. The book which is inspired by the real-life cases of kidnapping and captivation; stands out in the book shelf. Especially since the narrator is a five-year-old who believes this is his world.

Cover page

I own a kindle copy of the book which is a shot from the movie. Movie-tie in covers are my least favorite types. They are too pictorial and leave no room for imagination.


The book is essentially a story of a boy who has been living in a room since he was born. He now thinks that it is his world, that there is no outside. Jack is good with numbers. He can spell words. He can make word sandwiches too. This is how he whiles away his time in the room.

Jack’s mother, who is known as ‘ma’ throughout the book loves jack as much as any mother loves her child besides their unusual relationship. She tries to keep jack engaged in different activities. Both jack and ma are pillars of support to each other.


‘Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in wardrobe, but when I wake up in bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra.’

It’s jack’s fifth birthday when ‘Ma’ decides to tell Jack the real story about the real world and how she got there. It was about seven years before when ‘Ma’ was kidnapped by Old Nick and put into the room. That is where jack happened. All this is a blow to jack who till now believes that the room is the world and there is nothing outside of the room. It is a painful story of coming in terms with the existence of a new world and the trapping of self in the old, which gets comfortable because of lack of knowledge of the outside.

The story is divided into several parts; presents, undying, dying, after and living. Each part unfolds the story of jack, his mother, and their great escape steadily. The surprise is that the book does not finish at the great escape but reveals how jack copes with the world outside.

It is a well-structured story told from the point of view of a five-year-old boy. It is difficult to judge a book of this sort which deals with a lot many aspects than just a uni-dimensional story.

Sadly the story loses interest after the great escape. The life after is just trips to clinic and grandparents. The story loses its pace towards the second half of the book.


The story is narrated by a five-year-old boy, therefore there are mispronunciations, misspellings, and general grammatical errors. There is also a stunted understanding of the entire story from the point of view.

Agreeing to the author’s choice of voice, it did not go well with me. The five-year-old was getting annoying by the day. There were other serious happenings in the story which did not come to light due to the narrative style. I would have wanted to know more about the creaks from the bed when Old Nick visited and Jack’s elder sister who is not. All this was difficult for a child to comprehend, hence the dislike of narration.

Good points

The general subject of the book is quite Interesting. Seldom you get to hear a child’s perspective of the story.

Bad points

The movie-tie-in cover did not work for me. I would have rather preferred other editions. The story got boring after a while. The narration was single toned which made it monotonous. The book failed to address some grave issues.


Overall this book wasn’t for me. I will refrain from calling it a bad literature. But it was not what I was expecting from a book of this sort.

Who do I recommend this to

This book is for those who are interested in different styles of narration. Those who enjoy psychology in their stories are going to love this too.

Quotable quotes

But when I want something I want it always, like chocolates, I never ate a chocolate too many times.

Grandma made them a few dinners ago and I just pretended I didn’t see them on my plate. Now I’m in the world, I’m never going to eat green beans again.

There’s playgrounds in every town. Lots of the world seems to be a repeat.

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH