Room Review ⭐️

‘Room’ is a captivating novel by Emma Donoghue that explores the complex relationship between a mother and her son, who are held captive in a single room. 


Emma Donoghue

The story is narrated by five-year-old Jack, who has never been outside the confines of the small room, which he refers to as “Room.” The book is a hard read but one that is incredibly fulfilling and interesting. From the first pages, readers are going to be drawn into Ma and Jack’s story and the terrifying truth about their situation that the young narrator doesn’t understand.


Room‘ was published in 2010, during a time when stories of abduction and captivity were prominent in the media. The novel was inspired by the case of Elisabeth Fritzl, an Austrian woman who was held captive by her father in a basement for 24 years. Emma Donoghue has also stated that the novel was influenced by the case of Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped at age 11 and held captive for 18 years.

Room addresses several social and psychological issues, including trauma, mental health, and the effects of confinement. The novel also explores the media’s treatment of victims, as well as the impact of trauma on family dynamics. 

These themes are particularly relevant in today’s society, where there is an increasing awareness of the psychological effects of trauma and the importance of supporting victims of abuse. Having a prior understanding of real-world situations such as those which inspired Donoghue makes the book all the more powerful. 

Writing Style

One of the most remarkable aspects of ‘Room‘ is the writing style. Emma Donoghue takes on the challenging task of writing from a child’s perspective, but she does so with great skill and sensitivity. The narrative is told entirely from Jack’s point of view, and the language and sentence structure reflects his limited understanding of the world. This technique creates an immersive experience for the reader as we see the world through Jack’s eyes and feel the intensity of his emotions. 

Donoghue’s prose is concise and unadorned, which adds to the realism of the novel. Overall, the writing style of Room is both unique and effective in conveying the story.


The two main characters in ‘Room are Jack and his mother, Ma. The novel is primarily focused on their relationship, which is complex and multi-layered. Jack is a bright and curious child who is deeply attached to his mother. Ma, on the other hand, is a strong and resilient woman who has been through immense trauma. 

Ma, also known as Joy, is the main protagonist of the novel and the mother of five-year-old Jack. She is a complex and multifaceted character who is defined by her resilience, resourcefulness, and unwavering love for her son. Throughout the novel, Ma undergoes a transformation as she struggles to come to terms with her trauma and adjust to life outside of Room.

One of the most striking aspects of Ma’s characterization is her strength and resilience in the face of adversity. Despite being held captive in Room for seven years, Ma remains determined to survive and protect her son. She uses her intelligence and resourcefulness to create a sense of normalcy for Jack, devising games and activities to keep him entertained and educated. Ma’s love for Jack is also a defining aspect of her character. She puts his needs before her own, often sacrificing her own well-being to ensure his safety and happiness.

At the same time, Ma is a deeply flawed character who is haunted by her trauma. She struggles with depression, anxiety, and feelings of guilt and shame. She also experiences a sense of detachment from the outside world, feeling like an outsider in her own skin. These struggles are compounded by the challenges she faces in reintegrating into society after being rescued from Room. Ma’s character development throughout the novel is marked by her gradual healing and acceptance of her trauma as she learns to reconnect with the outside world and rebuild her relationship with Jack.

Donoghue does an excellent job of portraying the nuances of their relationship, which is both loving and strained. We see how Ma tries to shield Jack from the horrors of their situation while also struggling to maintain her own sanity. The other characters in the novel, such as Old Nick (the man who kidnapped Ma) and Ma’s mother, are also well-drawn and add depth to the story.


One of the central themes of ‘Room is trauma and its lasting effects. Ma has been through a harrowing experience and is struggling to cope with the aftermath. Jack, too, has been traumatized by his captivity, and his struggles to adjust to the outside world are poignant and heart-wrenching. The novel also explores the theme of love and the bond between mother and child. 

Ma’s love for Jack is unwavering, and it is this love that gives her the strength to keep going. Jack’s love for his mother is equally strong, and it is this love that motivates him to help her escape. Finally, ‘Room‘ also deals with the theme of resilience and the ability of the human spirit to endure and overcome adversity.

Legacy and Critical Reception 

The story of ‘Room is a novel that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. The story is both heart-warming and heart-breaking, and the characters are so well-developed they feel like real people. Donoghue’s writing style is unique and effective, and her ability to write from the perspective of a child is impressive. 

The author’s writing style, contemporary context, and memorable characters meant that ‘Room‘ was a critical and commercial success. The book has been translated into over 35 languages and was shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize. Donoghue won several awards for her writing, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The novel received widespread praise for its unique perspective and powerful storytelling.

Critics praised Donoghue’s ability to write from the perspective of a child and her use of language to create a sense of intimacy and immediacy. Many critics also noted the novel’s exploration of trauma and the resilience of the human spirit. However, some critics criticized the novel for its limited scope and its portrayal of the outside world as a kind of utopia.

Despite the mixed reviews, ‘Room‘ has become a beloved novel and is considered a modern classic. The novel’s impact has also extended beyond the literary world, with its themes and story inspiring discussions about mental health, trauma, and the importance of compassion and empathy.

Room: Emma Donoghue's Intense Psychological Thriller
  • Story
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Writing Style
  • Dialogue
  • Conclusion
  • Lasting Effect on Reader

Room Review

Room is a contemporary psychological thriller by Emma Donoghue. The book was published in 2010 and follows the story of Ma, a woman whose been held captive for 7 years and has since had a son, Jack.


  • Intense setting and plot developments
  • Memorable storyline
  • Unique narrative style


  • The outside world is described as a utopia
  • Readers may want to know more by the end of the novel.
  • Jack’s narration means questions go unanswered.
Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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