Berg's Book Club

Room by Emma Donoghue | Berg’s Book Club

The book cover for Room by Emma Donoghue. A child sits at the far wall. Blurred. At the front is a toy house made from toy bricks.

Book Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Genre: Psychological Thrilliar
Published: August 2010
Publisher: Picador 
Star Rating: ★★★★★


Welcome to Berg’s Book Club. Today, Berg and I are reviewing Room by Emma Donoghue.

This book has an amazing and interesting plot. The narrator is a five-year-old boy, who’s never seen the outside world.

Room by Emma Donoghue
Book Review

I loved like Room by Emma Donoghue. Loved the characters and how the majority of the book takes place in one location. The “Room”. The two protagonists are being held captive there.

But then, I loved The Lovely Bones too and the book cover does say it is just as compelling. That is true! I feel Emma Donoghue’s writing technique and choice to portray the narrative through Jack has really helped this book to be as good as it is.


Jack has only known one room. The one he was born in and has lived in for the whole five years of his life. It has never occurred to him that when Old Nick leaves, he must go somewhere else. And as far as he is aware, all the people on TV are make-believe.

But then something awful happens. Jack’s mom doesn’t want to stay in the room anymore and needs Jack to help her escape. Scared and frightened of the busy, Jack wants to return to the solitude of “Room” but he must learn to adapt.


I found this plot intriguing. It gripped my attention straight away. I wanted to know what happened to Jack and his mom. Whether they escaped the room and if they did, what happened to them.

Born and raised in a single room, Jack has never been outside so Emma Donoghue catches his tone of voice and view on the world by not using the indefinite and definite articles ‘a,’ ‘an,’ ‘the’. The first few pages are hard to read because of the missing definate articles. And because Donoghue purposely wrote the grammar incorrectly.

During the first few pages, it is hard to read because of this, and because the grammar is purposely written incorrectly, but it works. And you get used to it.

This story is heavily character driven and I think it is this that gives it all the emotion and conflict every story needs!


I feel I can see the characters, understand their world because they are developed and written well.


I felt like I could really see into Jack’s head and how he saw the world. The first half of the book illustrates how Jack tries to make sense of the world with the limited knowledge and experience he has. He believes that there are only three people in the entire world, him, his mom and ‘Old Nick’,his mother’s kidnapper.

I think this is great. Because of his age, he is starting to realise the world is a thing, but because he has never been outside the room, he believes nothing can exist outside the room. Therefore, he thinks that Old Nick only sometimes exists as Old Nick visits the room at night, bringing food and sexually assaulting Jack’s mother while he hides in the wardrobe.

Jack believes the people in the TV are make-believe and are not real. So, to him, only the objects and people in the room are real. He knows that he would have had a slightly older sister if she had survived because she left her ‘mark on the rug’. His mother, who he calls Ma, allows him to believe that only the room is real as a form of protection and to prevent disappointing him because she knows the world he is missing out on.

After the escape

When he is outside of the room, Jack struggles to comprehend the outside world. Everything is overwhelming for him, his grandmother want’s him to have a haircut. Overwhelmed by everything, he longs for the safety of the room he knew. Unable to go back, he struggles to adapt to his new family and to learn behaviours he did not have the ability to learn while he was in the room.

Jack is overwhelmed by the senses he is experiencing all at once. Never exposed to anything outside of the room, Jack is terrified. His grandmother cannot understand is behaviour and believes he should just be able to put the room behind him.

Jack’s mom

When Jack’s mother learns that Old Nick has become unemployed, she worries that he would kill her and Jack, rather than letting them go free and so starts to plot an escape, despite knowing that if it fails they could be killed sooner rather than later. And I love how Donoghue has used this scenario to keep the conflict on every page of the book. Not one single word went to waist.

Inside the Room, Jack’s mother is frightened but strong. When Old Nick appears, she does what he asks so that she can protect Jack. However, Jack is happy and content. He doesn’t understand where Old Nick comes from or where he goes and doesn’t give it much thought. He loves the life he has now and hates it when his mother tells him about the real world through a story because he cannot understand it and likes the safety of the room he lives in.

After the escape

Once out of the room, Jack’s mother is having to deal with mental issues and trauma that being captivated have left on her. She has to intrust Jack to the care of her mother who looks at him with disgust because he is a child produced from rape. However, having someone else to watch over Jack means that she doesn’t have to be mentally strong to protect him anymore and so she has several belts of depression and breakdowns.

Overall Thoughts

I don’t think Emma Donoghue could have improved on this story at all. The characters are well developed and the cause and effect relationship of the characters actions and behaviours are clearly written.

I believe the whole book is really well written and the style works well. Emma Donoghue has clearly done her research, looking into child psychology, mental illnesses and post-traumatic stress. This book was inspired by a true event, which I find intriguing.

Room has recently been adapted to film, so I hope to the movie soon in the hope that the screenwriter managed to adapt it beautifully.

However, if you read books before watching the film, I recommend giving it a read. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for Reading

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have, why not read some other book reviews. There are plenty on here: Daughter Disappeared and The selection, just to name a few. And please do follow me on here, Facebook or Twitter.



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