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9780316098335One thing you’ve got to say for Emma Donoghue, she won’t be pigeonholed. Her excellent historical novels Slammerkin and The Sealed Letter made me glad to happen on another effort from her. Room is way afield from the other two, and I must say I think it’s too bad.


Our narrator is five-year-old Jack, who is a youngster caught in a situation it would spoil the whole story to reveal. Although his dilemma is unique, and although there are a couple rather harrowing events in the plot, by far the bulk of the narrative is turned over to his puzzling out how the world works, wondering why adults use certain terms and behave certain ways. Much of it can be labeled as “cute” in the worst possible way. The whole story has the flavor of an author’s “what if” tale. What if I used such and such a character in such and such a way. All writers have a pile of such efforts in their drawers or on their disks. This one, I’m afraid, clever as it often is should have stayed there,

Doubtless I’ll have dissenters, and I must say in my defense that my 5-year-olds have been as cute as anyone’s but I still don’t think there’s a novel there. Or here.

Back to the past, Emma. Please.


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