by Emma Donaghue
2010 Little, Brown and Company

Method of selection: One-word titles

First sentence: Today I’m five.
Worst sentence: There’s the stain I spilled by mistake getting born.
Anthropopomomorphised objects in  first three pages: Wardrobe, Bed, Skylight, Lamp, Rug, Mr. Five, Rocker, Watch, Duvet (really???), Mirror, Kit, Shelf, Bath
Things I’d rather read: the dedication plates on park benches, toaster instructions

This book is written in a bit of a vernacular. It’s also written from the point-of-view of a five year old, which is similar to, but stupider than, a vernacular. Even talented authors rarely write vernacular well, and five-year-olds are not the best writers anyway, so you can guess how I feel about this book, in spite of its unique story.

As the book opens, a child and his mother share a small room, where the child anthropomorphises and capitalizes everything, eliminating articles, so when they talk they sound like cavemen, or stereotypes of Native Americans:

  • Ma leans out of Bed to switch on Lamp.
  • I jump on Rocker and look at Watch.
  • When are presents meant to open?
  • Why are the eyes of the me shut?

There’s 320 pages in this book. I’ll never make it.

I don’t know five-year-olds who talk like this. But I only know maybe thirty or forty five-year-olds, or I did but now they’re buried in my basement. What I worry about most (besides the Children of the Basement reanimating and stealing all my Juice Boxes) are Emma Donoghue’s two young children. She clearly hasn’t been talking to them and they may need to be liberated.

The concept of the book is actually a great a idea: a woman imprisoned in a tiny room with her young son tries to make the room liveable for him, but he is oblivious until he starts to notice what is going on. But why a five-year-old? Wouldn’t a nine-year-old at least have been better, so we didn’t have to slog through all the caveman talk? I don’t want to call it shitty, but as you can see my hands are tied.

The synopsis says this book is shocking, exhilarating, riveting, deeply human, and always moving. The best book I ever read wasn’t all those things. Why would a publisher lie just so you’ll buy their shitty book?

Other reviews: One Minute Book Reviews, Book Lover Book Reviews, Novelicious, Shelf Life

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One thought on “Room

  1. Very entertaining! Just found your site for the first time and am thoroughly enjoying myself. Thanks for the laugh (even though I’m actually enjoying the book).

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