College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

Because Ideas Matter...

The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

Room Room: A Novel

by Emma Donoghue, Little, Brown, and Company, 2010

Reviewed by Judi Morrel

What if you had been confined with your child since before his birth in an 11 by 11 foot shed, held captive by a man who brought only basic necessities to you? How would you explain things to your son, who has never seen the outside? That's the starting point of Emma Donoghue's novel Room: A Novel, short-listed for the Booker prize in 2010. Told entirely from the point of view of the energetic and perceptive five-year-old boy Jack, the story is alternately terrifying and hopeful. Jack, who has never been outside the confines of what he calls Room, does many things a typical boy would do - plays games, reads books (only a few), watches a bit of television on a snowy screen. His mother tries her best to create a "normal" life for Jack, having taught him to read and helped him develop a large vocabulary, but she comes to realize that what she can do within the shed is not enough. After pulling off a desperate and daring escape, Jack and his Ma face significant challenges of adjustment for him and readjustment for her. Full of originality, replete with moments of both hope and beauty, Room is a book that will haunt readers for a while, starting with the question, "What are the most important elements of rearing a child?"

- Judi Morrel is Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Center for High Achievement and Scholarly Engagement (CHASE) at Butler University.