Book Review: Room – Emma Donoghue

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“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”

Five year old Jack lives with his mother in ‘Room’, they play there, sleep there and learn there. Jack has never known the outside but his mother plans to make sure that he does soon. After being kidnapped Jack’s mother, simply named ‘Ma’, was imprisoned by her captor and rapist, she becomes pregnant with his child, which is is forced to bring up in the small room. For the first five years of his life, Jack has no idea that there is an outside, thinking that the TV is magical and there is nothing else. Until one day Ma makes a plan to escape, but she needs Jack’s help.

Copies of Room are everywhere right now, after Brie Larson’s oscar win, the film of Room has become a phenomenon. As with many great films though, a beautifully written novel is behind it. I read Donoghue’s novel a few years ago after it was recommended by a friend, I was absolutely blown away by it. The novel is an emotional read, there is no way around it but it also captures a world that hasn’t been considered before, the life of a child raised in captivity. The entire novel is seen through Jack’s eyes, as he tries to understand first that there is a world outside of the four walls he knows and then he has to try and navigate that world.

After their escape, which I read in a blur because I was so worried for little Jack through the whole part of the novel, both Jack and Ma need to adjust to a new world that they don’t know. Although we only see Jack’s perspective, Donoghue has also captured the effect that it has on Ma, after being away for so long. I think it’s more devastating because it is being seen through the eyes of her son, the only person she’s had in her life for years, as she tried to come to terms with what has happened to her and what will happen next. Donoghue is honest in the rehabilitation of these women and the hardships they face trying to go back into a society that has changed so much since they were last a part of it.

The plot mirrors some of the experiences of the big cases that have come out in the media where young women were imprisoned and gave birth to the children of their captors, although little is known of those children. The fact that Donoghue has gone from this angle is not only incredible in its own right, but even more so because she appears to have done such a good job of trying to imagine what must go through these children’s minds. There is also the issue of how these children are received, while Ma clearly loves her son deeply and does not associate him with her captor, it is understandable that others may struggle with the child being ‘the child of the captor’ as well as the victim. All of these subjects are dealt with in a respectful way and appear to have had a lot of research.

Of course I gave this book 5 stars *****. Donoghue is a truly magnificent writer with an inspiring talent. The way that the story is told is absolutely phenomenal, not only do Jack and Ma come to life, we really care for them and their recovery. I would definitely recommend reading the book before seeing the film, because no matter how many awards it has won, it wouldn’t have been possible without Donoghue’s magnificent storytelling.

Chloe Metzger

Book Review: Keep Your Friends Close – Paula Daly

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You’d trust your best friend with your life…right?

Natty has the perfect life, a successful business, two daughters she adores and her teenage sweetheart as a doting husband. While the stresses of work build there is nothing Natty can’t handle…apart from maybe her mother in law. That is until she receives a phone call that her daughter is desperately ill, her oldest friend steps in to help out but what Netty doesn’t know is that this could be the start of her world beginning to unravel.

I will start out by saying that Daly’s novel is delicious and addictive.I give you fair warning, this book will keep you up until the early hours desperate to know what’s going to happen next. There was no part of me that wanted to put this novel down at any point of the day. Daly has an incredible talent for creating a world in which anything can happen and anyone can have secrets you’d never even consider. If there was anything I’d change about this novel it’s that I’d want it to continue. I want to know what happens after it ends because it was just so damn good.

The protagonist, Natty, is a determined woman, she’s worked hard for all she has and has never had a reason not to trust her best friend, until now. There are twists, turns and ‘oh my god’ moments throughout the whole book. I also particularly liked her daughters, they grow as the book goes on and become incredible characters, in fact I would have liked to have known more about them. I was also pleased to see the return of Joanne, the policewoman (those of you who have read Just What Kind of Mother Are You? will remember her).I also found the character of Eve to be written in a breaktaking way. I hated her, but at the same time I couldn’t get enough. I’ll leave it there in fear of spoilers.

It’s hard to write a review for a novel such as this because I could easily drop in some spoilers without realising. Each twist and turn has been carefully thought out and although there are some clues throughout, there is still the ability to shock, especially in relation to Natty’s past…Daly’s one of those writers that once you’ve read one of her books you’re hooked and I can’t wait to get my hands on her latest novel this summer. I only have a few weeks to wait but I can assure you Keep Your Friends Close has wetted my appetite and I’m sure it will do the same for all of you. 

It should not come as surprise that I’m giving this novel five stars *****. It is written with a sharp mind and pure talent on Daly’s part. I read this book in less than a day, with other things to do. The thought will always be at the back of your mind too, who do I really know? This novel really is a must read, I promise you wont regret it.

Daly’s new novel The Mistakes I Made is out on the 27th August.

This is not a sponsored post.

Review by Chloe Metzger