- Room by Emma Donoghue; read by Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, and Suzanne Toren
- Audio CD
- Publisher: Hachette Audio; Unabridged edition (September 13, 2010)
- ISBN-13: 978-1607886273
Back-of-the-box blurb: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years.
She Is Too Fond of Books’ thoughts: Wow. Let me start by saying this is the rare audiobook for which I also plan to read the print edition. It’s that good; I want to read it again, to catch any details, symbolism, or literary inflection that missed the first time around.
When I first started listening, I was a bit uncomfortable. First, with the premise; this is, after all, a horrific situation. As a woman, I can’t imagine what Ma has been subjected to. As a mother, I can only imagine the fierce love and protection she feels for Jack. Second, with the format; the perspective is that of a 5-year-old, I wondered if his innocence would shake me to the core, and if his grammar would irk me. Yes, I confess that the ‘baby talk’ of mismatched subject/verb/tense and assigning Proper Names to things like “rocker,” “skylight,” and “shelf” took me aback:
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. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. “Was I minus numbers?”
I wasn’t knocked off my listening game for long. Jack’s voice swept me right into the story, into his little world. Literally, the tiny little 11 x 11 world is all he knows, and I saw it though his eyes. Eyes that would of course give Wardrobe and Bed and even Room the upper-case attention they deserved. Donoghue didn’t write Jack’s voice to be cute, she wrote it to be real. And it is.
Ma blew me away with the love and patience she shows Jack. She lives for this boy, and gives him the best life she possibly can; it is astonishing, especially in light of their situation. They read together, tell stories, craft a snake from carefully emptied eggshells, establish routines that become Ma’s security. Jack doesn’t know any different – this is life (or Life), and he has no longing for anything else.
But what might happen if Jack gets an inkling that there is something beyond Room, past the bit of Outside that he can see through Skylight? Will Outside prove to be a savior, or something – like Old Nick – that Jack needs protection from?
Listen to Room; the multi-reader cast is excellent – pacing is perfect. Or read the print edition. Or – like me – take a double-dip with a scoop of each.