By request, we’re gonna open up a thread for those who have finished Room and want to discuss the full novel.  So a spoiler alert for any TNB Book Club members who have not yet had a chance to finish.  Do not read the comment board on this thread.


And now, having said that, we’ll open up the floor to you, dear readers.

Room, by Emma Donoghue.  In totality.

Talk amongst yourselves….



TAGS: , , , , , , , ,

THE TNB BOOK CLUB is the official book club of The Nervous Breakdown. For only $9.99 per month, members receive a new book in the mail each month, hand-picked by TNB editors. All book club authors will be featured on Other People with Brad Listi, a popular author interview podcast hosted by TNB's founding editor. To sign up for the club, please visit the Book Club page.

16 responses to “Room, by Emma Donoghue – Discussion for Those Who Have Finished”

  1. lori says:

    Read this in one sitting.
    Fascinated; fascinating…loved Jack’s spirit & innocence. Touched by Ma’s willingness to do all she could to provide him a ‘normal’ life within the room’s confines.

    Emma–wherever did you get the idea?

  2. Best book I’ve read all year. I also think it’s one of the best I’ve read in the last decade. I was riveted from page one, and felt more emotionally connected to these characters than I ever fathomed I could.

    I think that Donoghue is such a brave writer. There were so many ways she could have told this story, but I believe she chose the most interesting and heartfelt path she could have — a challenge to every writer attempting to tell a good story.

    It’s been a week since I finished the book and I’m still thinking about sweet JackerJack.

  3. Becky Palapala says:

    I struggle with the ripped-from-the-headlines thing. I probably shouldn’t. I should probably just appreciate the artfulness of the execution (and I concur. It is artful) and not worry so much about the genesis of the story. After all, we all draw from all kinds of places for our writing ideas. Our own lives, other people’s lives, other writers, etc. etc.

    But part of me–maybe a jealous part (“Hey wait a minute! We can do that????)–feels like much of the awe in a really unique story is the writer having even dreamed up the plot in the first place. Part of me wants to frown at this one for having a sort of Law and Order: SVU thing going on. Something presumptuous or even opportunistic. I mean, the desire to want to put sympathy and empathy and details to those stories we see on the news is noble. But it’s also kind of lurid and voyeuristic. Then yet again, you could take a New Critic’s approach. Does the work stand up out of context? I think yes. It does. For sure.

    The actual writing of it–the “channeling,” I think Brad called it–is the gem. To maintain that mindset and put it down believably and consistently in the unfolding of such a difficult thing to think about is impressive. And no doubt, if I had kids, I’m sure that I would be less concerned with eggheaded questions of literary theory and more in tune with its emotional content.

  4. Dana says:

    I’m an incredibly fast reader and easily could have read this book in one sitting, however, I was so enjoying the story I forced myself to slow down and savor every word. I’ve already loaned my copy to a friend and plan to pass it to another when she’s done.

    When I started the first chapter, it only took me about 2 minutes to fall into Jack’s cadence and universe. Upon realizing that they were being held captive and not just hiding (I wondered at first if perhaps Ma was agoraphobic) I immediately thought of the Fritzl case. When I first of Fritzl I was naturally appalled, but I’ll admit to morbid at how this happened with no detection for her entire life. There were enough dissimilarities though, that I didn’t linger on the “torn from the headlines” aspect and just moved into Room with Jack and Ma.

    I was surprised that as much as I hated the room for being their entire world, I wasn’t ever bored with it and was moved by how Ma kept such wonderful schedules and routines and rituals. I found Jack’s consistent counting of teeth endearing and loved how he wanted spider and mouse to live with them.

    Ma’s turning the light on and off at night reminded me of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction so I was relieved when it finally occurred to me that she was trying to gain attention.

    Shoot – I’ve got more to say, but errands to run. More later!

    • Ashley Menchaca (NOlady) says:

      I made myself slow down for a different reason…I just HAD to. Twice, this book had me in tears. Not just one glistening cheek, no, I mean that ugly cry that you NEVER do unless your favorite pet dies or something. Emotionally, it was just a lot for me to handle. I felt so close to their world that it scared me. My moods would change with the pages and I found myself needing and wanting to be a better mom. Ma is my hero. I finished a while ago and I still think about them daily.

      Did you notice a change in your mothering after reading ROOM? I’m so interested in the reactions of other moms.

  5. Judy Prince says:

    Jumping in too early, as I haven’t got a copy of _Room_ yet, but quite enjoyed the Guardian online article yesterday of Emma telling about her early years in Dublin and New York city: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/sep/05/once-upon-life-emma-donoghue

  6. Jim T says:

    Loved this book.
    I honestly thought it was a bit slow moving in the first section. Thought a bit too much time was spent on the cartoons for Dora and the like.

    After the first section the I couldn’t put it down. Jack’s voice makes the story so heart breaking to me.
    I especially loved the relationship between Jack and Steppa. I thought it was sweet that he, this old man who never “had time for kids,” was so good with Jack. I feel like he talked to Jack without taking in to consideration his situation and seemed to be the only one in the novel to do so. It seemed to me that Jack appreciated that too.

    Overall this book was amazing and so easy to lose yourself in this world of Jack.

  7. angela says:

    i stayed up till 4 AM reading this last night, and finished it on the train this morning. while i couldn’t stop reading, i also felt claustrophobic, closed in by that room. i’d think, i need to get out of my apartment, but during this morning’s commute, while reading the book, i still felt like i was in that room, then in jack’s head, and i’ve been having a hard time getting jack’s voice out of my own head (in a good way).

    the only beef i had with the book was the too-black-and-whitness of Ma having been kidnapped and held rather sensationally against her will. i mean, i know that kind of thing does happen, but i can’t help but wonder if it would have been more complex – and even more disturbing and interesting – if she could have left but felt she couldn’t.

    then again, i can see the author choosing to make that aspect of the book very definite, and to focus more on jack’s POV, and his devastating shift from in the Room to Outside.

  8. Carol says:

    This is the first book I’ve read in a very long time that I wanted to stay up all night to finish. This story captured me by surprise. I felt fear, anger, longing, and trepidation as those emotions filled Ma and Jack. I cheered for Jack as he ran away and was angry for Ma when the “outside” people chastised her for the “choices” she made for Jack – as if she had any real choices.

    I loved it – and find myself wondering how Jack and Ma are doing today.

  9. Brian says:

    What an amazingly creative, unique piece of art.

    I was captivated by Jack’s voice throughout. It became easy (painfully so) to imagine an existence confined by those four walls and what the psychological and emotional effects would be when freedom was obtained.

    This was brought home particularly powerfully to me when Jack remarks that only in Room was he truly safe, it’s the Outside where the dangers exist.

    The book club has truly started with a bang.

    Twill not be easy to top this book.

  10. Greg Boose says:

    Finished it yesterday and was certainly amazed by everything from the writing to the challenges the characters had to face being Outside.

    One thing my wife and I talked about was how much love we had for Ma in the first half and how you pretty much don’t care for her in the second half. I found myself saying internally on many occasions: “Look, bitch, Jack is the reason you’re outside and you’re not getting raped anymore and you put him in a lot of danger and he stepped up so get your act together and help him adjust.”

    I didn’t see them revisiting the Room at the end and thought it was done really well. Just what JackerJack needed to move on.

    Loved this book. Recommending it to everyone. Great choice for the first book. Looking forward to the discussion with the author.

    • Cheryl says:

      I can see what you are saying about Ma being unsympathetic in the second half, but I have to rush to her defense. If for no other reason than I felt the way both her and Jack’s recovery was portrayed was very realistic.

      First, she was 19 was she was imprisoned. After 7 years, the world, her family, her friends have all moved on. She hasn’t. She is young and she’s missed so much. Of course she’s resentful of that.

      Second, her father’s reaction to Jack and her reaction to her father made it clear what place jack has in her heart.

      Third, Room was a living hell for her, but it was home for Jack. She wants him to like Outside better. She wants him to understand that they were prisoners. She wants him to celebrate with her. She wants him to validate that she did the right thing, that endangering his life was worth it, to him as well as her.

      Fourth, she hasn’t had one moment alone in 5 years. 5 years. Think about that for a second. No matter how much you love your child, or your spouse, or whoever, everyone needs time to be alone. I don’t blame her for wanting some time alone, to not have to sleep in the same bed. Is she impatient about it? Yes. Is she pushing Jack away? Yes. Does she hate herself for it? Yes.

      Is this kind of honesty that endears this book to me. So she’s not a perfect mother. Big whoop. None of us are under the best of circumstances. Of course our sympathies are with Jack. He’s the bravest Jackerjack in the world. But give Ma a chance!

  11. Dana says:

    We had terrible weather here the night of the book club meeting. I think I recall that the discussion was going to be available afterward? I’d love to see a transcript if possible.
    Thanks!

  12. mark says:

    Loved it every piece but felt it was a very abrupt ending and jack in school and ma in college would of been great to see and much more Loved it but i guess i just didnt want it to end and wanted to find out more of what happened where would they have going after they re visited Room i wonder what the talk in the car afterwards would of been like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *