I am excited to finally be able to discuss Room, the first book we selected to read as part of the PBF book club.

Discussion questions will be posted after my review and I hope those of you who read the book will enjoy participating in a discussion in the comments section of this post.

Additionally, feel free to post your own review and thoughts about the book in the comments section as well. I love reading book reviews!


My Review

I heard a lot about Room before I dove in an started reading. I heard it was dark, hard to get into, hard to put down, compelling, chilling, intriguing.

I must admit, I was a little unsure how I would like the book when I heard that it was written from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Jack. I read a couple reviews where people said they had a hard time getting over his narration, but I didn’t really struggle with his voice. I found his storytelling adorable, innocent, imaginative and easy to read.

Jack is a young boy who lives in an 11 by 11 foot room with his mom. He was born in the room and has never stepped foot outside. The book follows Jack’s thoughts as he slowly learns that there is life outside the room.

Though Jack and his mom are being held captive in the room in a situation that would obviously be traumatic and terrifying,  I didn’t find the book dark and menacing.

I know many people feel that Room is disturbing, but I enjoyed reading it for the amazing love and bond between Jack and his mother. His “Ma” managed to make the room a home for Jack and a place where he looked forward to daily activities, stories, crafts and games. I honestly felt inspired by Jack’s mother’s creativity and intense desire to help her child learn and grow despite such dire circumstances.


Do not continue reading if you haven’t already finished the book!!!

The second half of the book was very different from the first. (I personally preferred the first half.)

While I was compelled to sit with the book for hours in the second half as well as the first, I found myself frustrated in the second half by Jack’s mother’s decisions and his grandparents’ actions. (Loved his stepdad though!) 

But what I found myself thinking about most during the second half was whether or not the room was such a bad place for Jack to grow up in after all. Jack was immersed in imagination, love, attention, and stimulation.

I loved how the author didn’t make Jack’s transition into the outside world seamless. I thought it was great that she made it clear that Jack liked his time in the room. While the room was a prison to Ma, the room was home to Jack. 

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one or all of the questions below or post your own review of the book in the comments section of this post to begin a discussion about Room.

  1. What would you do differently if you were Jack’s parent? Would you tell Jack about the outside world from the start?
  2. Do you think Jack benefited in some way from being raised in the room for so many years?
  3. If you were Ma, what do you think you would you miss most from the outside world?
  4. What would you ask for, for Sundaytreat?


  1. marie says

    I havent read this book but I am curious why jack and his ma are held captive in the room. Can you explain? Trying to decide if i should read it.


  2. says

    I felt very similar about enjoying the first half of the book a bit more than the second. Ma’s suicide attempt bothered me in the later part. Not that fact that she attempted it but more so the fact that there wasn’t much attention or story development around it.

    1. I thought a lot about whether or not I would’ve told my kid about the outside world from the beginning if I were in that position. It was tough to balance the pros and cons of that decision but in the end I don’t think I would’ve. I think the torture of not being able to get out would’ve been worse than the challenges of adapting to a completely new life later on when the child found out it was real. I think part of Jack’s innocence and cooperation while in Room was only b/c of the fact that he didn’t know anything better existed.
    3. I thought about this one a lot too and definitely think it would just be the lack of social interactions on a daily basis. Working from home, I can have days where it’s just me talking to the dog for hours on end sometimes and that leaves me craving a conversation with anyone by 5pm. I can’t imagine that for years on end.


  3. says

    I think Ma choosing to keep the outside world from Jack was the right choice. You don’t miss what you’ve never had, right? I felt bad for Jack, he wanted to go back to Room so bad, but he never fully realized how bad it was for Ma. It also saddened me that Ma’s father didn’t want anything to do with Jack. I suppose it would be hard to look at that child, knowing who his father is, but obviously Ma loved him unconditionally.


  4. says

    Oh, and I also found the first part of the story more interesting. However, the second part kept me reading because I loved hearing about Jack’s interactions with new things. Simple things that we take for granted. Feeling the sun on his skin, and the wind in his face.


  5. Candice says

    I agree that ma was right to keep the outside world from Jack. She kept his innocence in tact by doing so. Jack never knew what he was missing. She was a good mother for doing that. I don’t think he necessarily benefited from being in the room, but I think Ma’s treatment of a bad situation benefited Jack.

    Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I agree that the first half was much better than the second half.

    For sunday treat, I’d ask for ice cream. Every week!


    • says

      ice cream! ha! my mind always went to something i could use to try to get out… something that i could maybe build upon to try to get free, but i could never come up with an idea for something i thought old nick would actually provide.


  6. Rosa - Fitness, Food, Fulfilled says

    In the beginning, this book disturbed me so much because I couldn’t imagine a five year old never being able to experience the things that others his age experienced throughout their lives (I’m a stepmom to a four year old, so I love watching him grow and try/experience new things).

    However, I think his mom did an exceptional job of raising him in such dire circumstances. She did the best with what she could and she raised a smart, imaginative, loving little boy. She protected him from the “bad” as much as she could and she did a great job with it.

    As any mother knows, we will do everything and anything to protect our children and it’s not a learned behavior, its innate. I think that Ma showcased that. She was young when she gave birth and she had no example or people from who to ask advice. Her raising Jack was completely instinctual. Keeping the reality of “outside” world from Jack for most of his life was a survival instinct. Any caged animal will lose his mind knowing there’s more on the outside (as we see that happening with Mat), so fantasy was good for Jack. She only revealed it when it became necessary to get his buy in for an escape.

    I agree that the second half was hard for me too. Having dealt with depression in the past myself, I know how all consuming it can be. However, I thought it selfish that Ma would try to commit suicide, knowing that he could be the one to find her and that being so co-dependent on her, that she would abandon him. Those are things children shouldn’t have to deal with ever and the effects will last forever. I understand that she had a hard time coming back to a life where she’s the center of media attention, she’s lost the majority of her 20s, she was the victim of a horrible crime, and she doesn’t know her place in the world.

    This book illustrated also how resilient children are, even more so than adults. Jack had a difficult time when things changed (kids love structure and familiarity), but he adapted to them, much more easily than his mother and grandmother did.

    I loved this book and am looking forward to the next one!


    • says

      your comment is awesome. i agree w/ everything you said, particularly the part about ma’s suicide attempt. i found myself admiring ma’s mothering skills and hoping i can instill that kind of imagination and knowledge in a child one day which is why i think i had such a hard time wrapping my head around her overdose.


      • Jen says

        Ahh I am such a major lurker! Sorry! But I read this book a while ago and when I saw you were reviewing it I was really interested in hearing what other people had to say about it. I really found the above comments interesting and agree to a major degree…but I honestly didn’t have such a hard time wrapping my head around the overdose. Though, yes, it was in some ways selfish (because she’s a mother), that life she had for so many years must make a person CRAZY. And she dealt with it so amazingly well, and was such a great mom, but I mean, something like that would seriously cloud any 100% sound judgment, you know what I mean? Getting out must have been so crazily overwhelming and scary – but I don’t think that was the impetus for her suicide attempt. Perhaps in part, but I think it was more that she had lived through so many years of MAJOR mental, emotional, and physical trauma (repeated rape, trapped in a room) and getting out forced her to confront these things in a completely different way than she had in the “room.” So I guess that took away some of the selfishness for me, and I could understand it on a different level. It made me sad for her. But I felt surprisingly positive when I ended the book. I think the author left readers with a sense of things very slowly getting pieced back together.

        Again, so sorry for lurking! Love your blog!


        • says

          Heyo – I am a lurkering lurker as well!

          I agree, the overdose threw me! I didn’t see it coming at all, because I didn’t think she would abandon Jack like that since, as Rosa said, he was so dependent on her. That really bothered me, because that’s something that would have wrecked Jack for life.
          In my head I kinda thought that no matter how depressed she was, it wouldn’t come to suicide. But then, it did.

          But I agree, I finished the book feeling incredibly optimistic and positive when I ended the book!


        • Liz says

          I agree with you, Jen. At first, her suicide attempt was a total shocker. But, we have to remember that the book is written from Jack’s perspective and so we only have a little idea of what Ma’s mental state is. As we learn about her through Jack, we see a creative, adaptable woman who is incredibly strong and incredibly committed to doing the best she can do for her son. She’s the only one who can do that. When they get out, she no longer has that constant survival mode keeping her emotional state at bay. As important as keeping Jack safe and healthy and happy is to her, there are other people who can help care for Jack, and being back in the real world is just a reminder of what she missed and what she went through. I also wish that we could’ve had more a sense of what she was going through, but that wasn’t Jack’s story to tell. I almost want the author to write another book, from Ma’s perspective this time! Although, that would be a lot harder to read.


  7. Erin G says

    What I found disturbing is that this actually happens. The book reminded me alot of the Jaycee Dugard case. When you read a book like Room, you would like to think that that kind of stuff doesn’t really happen, but recent events show that not only has it happened before, but it is likely to be happening right now as well. I did like it though–it definitely gives you perspective on whatever’s going on in your life!


  8. says

    I read Room a few months ago and I thought it was one of the best books I’ve read in a whole. I LOVED reading it from Jack’s voice and I had no trouble getting into it (my boyfriend says this is because I often speak like a 5 year old myself).

    I think the book was disturbing in parts because it’s not something people ever want to imagine having to deal with. And especially seeing it from that point of view. However, I loved the overall tone of love and care and everything that Ma did for Jack to make it as normal as possible for him. It was clear that her love and attention got them both through. I don’t think he *benefited* from the room per se, but I think the way Ma handled it was what got them both through.

    On the other hand, it saddened me to see some of the family’s reaction after Ma and Jack were out of “room”. Though I think it would be a difficult transition for all and it was definitely compelling to see all of it from a little boy’s perspective.


  9. says

    here’s a link to my review:

    i do think Ma was impressive in her ability to create a life for her son within such a limited world. i also appreciated some of the little things that baffled jack in the outside world…showed a lot of though on the author’s part. that said, i enjoyed it but felt it was a bit too-hyped…which is common for me to think when a book has gotten so much press


  10. says

    I really enjoyed the book being written in Jack’s voice. It made an otherwise awful situation seem like normal because it was all he knew. I think Ma was right in not telling him about the outside world, because it would have made the whole situation more difficult for Jack. If he knew that there was so much in the world that he was missing out on, it might have had a bad effect on him, but since he was so young, he might not have understood either way.

    I actually felt bad for Jack when they left room. He was so confused and Ma would get aggravated at him for doing things that were normal in Room. Her suicide attempt made me very sad. She tried so hard and so long to get out of Room and when she does she tries to take her own life. I felt like that was unfair to Jack because he never wanted to leave Room and loosing her probably would have hurt him immensely.

    I also did not like that her father was angry about her having Jack and the reporters asking questions about whether she ever thought of smothering Jack when he was a baby. That’s is probably the worst question you can ask any mother. No matter what situation you are in, you always try to make the best for your child and that is what Ma did in Room.

    I think I would miss the outdoors the most. Being able to feel the sun on your face, watch the seasons change, lay in the grass. I can’t imagine being locked in a room for all that time.

    Overall I loved the book and can’t wait for the next one! Sorry for the essay comment! 🙂


    • says

      yes to all of this! and her suicide attempt was very frustrating to me, too. having been affected by suicide in my personal life, it’s something very hard for me to understand – even in a book.


    • says

      I felt like the suicide was out of place because it didn’t make sense. She had been in Room for so long, I thought she was resilient. It appeared as though the author was trying to give some resolution to whether or not Jack could live without her and if he could adjust to living on the outside. Jack was able to live with his grandma and Steppa during the time and in a way, prove that he can do without Ma by his side all the time.


      • Catherine 'T' says

        The overdose was a bit hard for me too…I understood the frustration, anger, and depression(loved where she said, is she allowed to ask me such stupid questions?) but knowingly overdosing…I question where she thought Jack would go? Stay at the clinic? Her moms? Her brothers? Surely she knew he couldn’t adjust that fast….it was hard for me not to yell at the people in the book being frustrated with him…really? If you had just spent the first five years of your life in a cage, or in the woods, or on a rocket…wouldn’t you be a bit jostled?! Loved Steepa! He seemed to get right away that Jack was smart but didn’t know all the protocol…but what five year old does? Everyone is raised differently, I think ‘ma’ did a fine job considering…. I was also a bit shocked that there was a first baby, to term. She was on birth control, so why wasn’t she put on it earlier(I know it’s not 100%) …? I’m glad the author was realistic in the ‘outside’ world for them, sun, wind etc… I also thought it was hilarious when Jack would call out an adult…no thanks to playing in dirty sand, of course I know that, feces ‘he’s a good speller’ lol!!!! I really liked his inner monologue too, especially with the manners items…
        Sundaytreat…hmmmm ice pick? Lol! No, chocolate all the way(for me) but if I had a child, books, puzzles etc…


  11. Andrea says

    hmmm am I the only one who thinks Ma’s choice to bring Jack into Room in the first place was incredibly selfish? She had access to birth control yet she chose not to take it. I understand that she was overcome with grief but she still chose to bring a child into that life.


      • Andrea says

        I assumed she did because Jack describes Ma and her pills that came in a pack of 28. I assumed that meant birth control. So….why did she choose not to take them until after Jack was born? Obviously Jack was very loved in Room but does that make it OK? That being said I LOVED the book and could not stop thinking about it afterwards. Even though I was a little skeeved out by the breast feeding parts in the beginning…..

        Here’s part of a review from the NY times that describes EXACTLY how I felt about that part much better than I every could…..

        “Which brings up the one part I struggled with a bit. Very early on, we see that Ma breast-feeds her son. The book opens on his birthday, and she tries, halfheartedly, to wean him, but he loves this intimate connection to his mother’s body as much as he loves all the walls and objects and routines of Room. There’s a flicker of unease in the reader here — and it’s a good and interesting flicker. Room is a sanctuary for Jack, but where are the lines, the boundaries between mother and son? When does security go too far? ”


        • Rosa - Fitness, Food, Fulfilled says

          Now I want to go and find that part in the book about the birth control. I totally didn’t pick up on the BC at all.

          I thought that maybe she was continuing to breast feed Jack as a means of birth control.


        • says

          I caught the part about the pills too, but I kind of assumed that she got those after Jack. In my head I though if she hates Old Nick so much, why would she want to have his baby if she had a choice in the matter, especially after she lost the first baby.

          I agree about the breastfeeding parts too. I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding, but feel like when your child can ask you in plain English to nurse, its time to wean.


        • says

          I missed the birth control part as well, but you have to give her credit because I would NOT have thought about it until after Jack as well. I would be too preoccupied with getting out, as she had described she was doing before then. But it is definitely a good idea. However, now I do wonder why she didn’t start taking them before Jack, when she had the miscarriage.


    • Katie says

      I wonder if the birth control came after Jack? EIther she demanded them from Old Nick or he didn’t want her having any more children.

      I also wonder if she wanted a child, even if it was Old Nick’s, because she was lonely and in part wanted companionship and a stronger reason to survive. Perhaps Jack fulfilled her wish or perhaps she didn’t want another child being born in these circumstances.


      • Tabitha says

        I assumed that the bc pills came after he impregnated her twice, as her hate for him was evident and I doubt she would choose to have children with a man who rapes her, ya know? As for the breast feeding, I found it interesting, and actually thought of it from a nutritional perspective. He was healthy and always had “food”.


        • Caroline says

          Yeah, Ma only had what Old Nick would bring her, so I had to assume the BC pills came after Jack? When Old Nick was complaining about repairs that needed done in Room he commented that it was built for one sedentary person, so I don’t think he ever wanted to get her pregnant. Considering the pill isn’t always effective and we don’t know when Ma started to take them, I tried not to get to hung up on this point.

          In regards to the selfishness of the suicide attempt, to me it wasn’t a surprise. Jack already had experiences with Ma being “gone” and this time was the morning after the interview. I thought the catalyst for the suicide attempt was the TV host asking Ma why didn’t ask Old Nick to take the baby, leaving it with someone else so that he could have a normal childhood. Due to both her
          unconditional love for Jack and her need for companionship I don’t think this
          ever crossed her mind and when it was asked of her I think she thought she
          failed Jack. The past five years for her were about protecting Jack and she
          always thought she was making the best decisions for him – I really do think
          the interview pushed her over the edge.


        • Liz says

          That last bit makes sense. After all her hard work to give him the most “normal” life she could, to love him so much, the idea that she should’ve done something else for him, she was a selfish mother, could’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Even more so because it might have been partially true. Regardless of all the discussion of how Jack got there or why he stayed, whether it was intentional on Ma’s part or not, he did keep her as sane and she could be while they were in Room.


  12. says

    Here’s my review:

    I don’t know if I would have told Jack from the start – I don’t know that a child that young would be able to understand a) what was actually out there, and b) why they couldn’t be. I think that given the circumstances, she did things as best as she could. She tried to keep him happy and healthy, which is amazing in the circumstances.

    I definitely would have missed human contact with my friends and family, even just the people at the grocery store.

    For Sundaytreat – a bottle of wine 😉


    • says

      I would never have come up with the idea of keeping the outside world separate, or I’m not particularly creative. At the same time, I wouldn’t be able to describe the outside world to Jack since he had never experienced it. Ma seemed to struggle with it as well as she tried to explain what’s TV and what’s not.

      It amazes me that we, on the outside, have been able to distinguish the difference between reality and pretend. It seems like such a difficult process when she tries to teach him!


  13. says

    I was touched by the strenght of Ma’s love for Jack: she was able to make Room a home for him, and I completely understand why she never told him of the outside. I liked discovering all the daily activities they made – P. Ed. i think was genious – and how Ma was able to make some of them, such as the screaming, no big deal to Jack.
    When i first heard the book was written from the prospective of Jack I didn’t think I’d like it, but it turned out to be one of the things I enjoyed the most: it helped make the dreadful story easier to read.


  14. says

    I think that Jack’s mom did the right thing with keeping the outside world from him. She had no idea if they were ever going to leave that room and it would have been cruel to expose him to all the beauty of a world that he could possibly never see. It also probably was a way for her to cope, as well.


  15. kati says

    I enjoyed this book a lot and agree that the 1st half was much better. Once Jack escaped and they were free from Room, I was interested to see what happened, but like Gina mentioned, I wish there was more development around Ma and her suicide attempt. Maybe a part of the book should have been from Ma’s perspective? I think that would have been interesting. We obviously realized she was trying to protect Jack by not telling him about the outside world but it would I would have liked to hear about her thoughts once they escaped and Jack was exposed (and she was re-exposed) to so many things.


      • kati says

        yes! i’d also like to hear what happened to nick. i’m actually now reading the jaycee dugard memoir called “a stolen life”. it’s scary to think that something extremely similar to Jack and Ma’s story happened in real life. There have been a lot of commonalities between the two books and what the mother’s did for their kids (i.e.- schooling, trying to protect them, etc). It is also nice to know that the kidnapper was punished!


        • kati says

          i like it! i was really interested in the whole story and wanted to hear firsthand how she survived as many years as she did with that crazy man! i would recommend it if you like memoirs, but it can be a little slow (she includes a lot of journal entries which can be redundant at times). i would also say it is a more creepy and disturbing read than Room.


  16. Holly @ The Runny Egg says

    I loved this book — Jack is adorable and I loved his character. I too struggled with liking Ma in the second half of the book, but part of me just felt so sorry for her. I can’t imagine being in a situation even close to hers.


  17. says

    First of all, thank you so much for choosing this book. I had never heard of it before you posted your book survey and I was immediately intrigued when I read about it. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. Seriously, I started and finished it one low-key Saturday (um, low-key meaning I did absolutely nothing but read all day). I LOVED it. When Jack was escaping, I don’t think I’ve ever been SO INTO a book in my entire life. I was on the edge of my seat!

    I completely agree that the book was not dark and depressing for me, and I also did not have trouble reading Jack’s voice. I actually thought that made the book better – I fell in love with Jack! It reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (which is narrated by a young boy with autism). Same kinda thing.

    I thought Jack’s mother handled so many things well. She made such an amazing little life for him in that room, and I was so engrossed with reading about their daily routine and activities.

    I think Jack would benefit from this experience because, well, you said it “Jack was immersed in imagination, love, attention, and stimulation.” Bang-on. He is a thoughful, caring and considerate little boy, with an appreciation for the little things! I also love how non-materialistic this made him.

    If I were Ma, I’d miss my family and friends the most 🙁 that would kill me, and I can’t imagine being as strong as she was through that experience.

    And for Sundaytreat I’d ask for cheese. and books. and probably pen and paper.

    I loved Steppa!!! He was the best! 🙂


  18. Shephalli says

    Loved your review. I read this book a few months ago and I really liked it. Is it a book I will pick up again? – NO. Am I glad I read it? – YES. With that being said I do love the first half of the book rather than the second. Maybe it is because the book is from Jack’s point of view and his version of the first part is very fascinating. Overall I found the book extremely hard to finish. Another thing I questioned was why “Ma’ never had a name.


  19. says

    I read this entire book in one day (admittedly, a day filled with lots of travel) but literally struggled to put it down (to the point of ignoring folks asking me questions. Oops.) I thought the style of writing was unique and perfect to explain the situation. I think that, had it been written from Ma’s POV, there would’ve been more space for explanation but, instead, the reader is able to make those connections on their own and almost learn everything as if they were Jack.

    1. Knowing the hopelessness of her situation, I would not have told Jack about the outside world (though the selfish person inside of me would probably have wanted to at times if only to discuss it and not forget it personally!) However, considering the circumstances, I think it was the best move for her child.

    2. While, at times, I wanted to scold Jack for being selfish or not understanding enough, I sort of had to take a step back and remember that his entire world view changed overnight, and how could he be any different? I think that a benefit of being raised in the room alone was confidence and a feeling of being “king of the rock” kind of…. but I really think it did far more damage than good.

    3. I, unfortunately, am not the best person for spending all of my time with one other individual. While I appreciate time with people now and then, I fare best in groups where I flit around like a bumble bee collecting pollen or something…. I would’ve missed company, and a diversity of it, most of all.

    4. Sundaytreat would likely always be new books. I think it’d keep my mind sharp and allow me to imagine life outside Room.


  20. Marla says

    I thought this was such a clever book, and very well written, however one thing bothered me about Jack’s voice and that was: if he watched so much tv and Ma spoke correctly, why did Jack get grammer so muddled up?

    Also, I sort of disagree with what’s been said so far. I don’t think Ma was a very good mother at all. I think she used Jack to give her something to live for when she was trapped, but once they got out, she resented Jack, that she couldn’t pick up her old life because she was saddled with responsibility now. I thought in the second half of the book she was obviously very frustrated with Jack, and I think the suicide attempt shows that she didn’t want the burden of Jack now that she was out, he was a constant reminder of her ordeal and she wasn’t able to brush it off and move on like she wanted to.

    I think it was so interesting the different perspectives between Jack and his Ma, how she would get so angry every time he wanted to go back, and he got the police to bring the things from Room.

    Thanks for suggesting this book, I really enjoyed it!


      • Liz says

        Agreed. I hadn’t even considered that perspective. Without hearing her side, we’ll never know… After all that time in Room, I don’t think I’d know where to pick up again, either. Clearly, you can’t pretend that time never happened and try to go back to where you were before.


    • says

      I was concerned about Jack getting back to Room. His senses are heightened from his experience in Room that I think this really benefited him when he described to the police how many bumps and turns the truck made. I’m not sure I would have thought to recognize those things!


  21. says

    I definitely think Jack’s mom made the right choice in not telling him about the outside world – otherwise he would be constantly longing to be outside and not enjoy the life he has. I don’t, however, think he’s better off for being in there than having been raised in the real world. It definitely will hurt him in developing socially and I honestly think he has a bit of an unhealthy attachment to his mother. Although he did great with his grandparents. I actually liked that his grandmother took care of him. Although I realize she’d been through a traumatic situation, I think Jack’s mom wasn’t doing what was best for Jack when she tried to keep him with her – he needs guidance from other people as well, not just her.
    For a sunday treat I’d ask for something that would last a long time – like a big book of short stories!


  22. says

    I really enjoyed this book. The parts that I actually found to be so disturbing were when Jack doesn’t quite understand what’s happening (bed creaks) and it’s left up to the reader to understand on their own. Chilling, but overall a great book that I plowed right through!

    I also recommend Jaycee Dugard’s A Stolen Life. She is amazing!


  23. says

    I loved the book. At first, I was kinda like, “what am I getting myself into”, but I couldn’t put it down and found it very interesting. I agree with you, Julie, about how wonderful it was to read about the bond between Jack and his mom. I, also, was inspired by the way she created a world for Jack right in the little room. He learned how to read, write, and use his imagination. I think he was, in some ways, further developed that other 5 year olds. I’m not sure if I would have done what his mom had, or tell him early on about the outside world. I think at such a young age, he may not have understood anyway, or it could have made things more complicated.
    I like that she asked for books for Jack for Sunday treat. I would have done the same. He was able to learn so much with knowing so little about the world.
    P.S. Steppa fan all the way!


  24. Dyanna says

    I must admit, I read this book as soon as you posted the 3 books that you wanted us to choose from.

    I dont think I would have told Jack about the outside world. To me that seems like it would be cruel. Like telling someone about something so wonderful, then saying, “opp sorry you cant have, see, touch, taste this but this is what it is like—”

    I dont think Jack benefited from being inside the room. Yes he was extremly intelligent, but had not way of knowing how to deal with every day occurances.

    I would deff. miss my family the most.

    I’m not sure what I would ask for. That one is a hard one.

    Ok, now I must say, I so did not agree with the aurthor having Ma commit suicide in the 2nd half of the book. It just did not match the mindset of Ma that was displayed in the first part of the book.


  25. says

    I really enjoyed this book. It was so multifaceted, even though narrated solely through Jack. The layers of phsychological meaning were endless.

    I was amazed at the rich life that Ma made for Jack in that tiny room. I loved PhysEd! I loved all the games. That was the absolute best part.

    And I may be the odd one out, but I have to say that if I’d been in Ma’s shoes, I don’t think I could have left out the real world in his upbringing. One, because I’d always (always) be searching for a way to escape and I’d want him to be prepared for exactly what Jack was NOT prepared for — a life outside Room. And two, because as a child, I just always wanted to know the truth. It was a big deal to me, and I hated it when adults would sugar-coat things or outright lie.

    I also was astounded by Ma’s attempted suicide. I found myself so ANGRY with her! And I also loved, loved, loved Steppa. I remember thinking, “Thank God Jack has Steppa.”

    And for Sundaytreat? It would always be books!

    Great first book for the PBF Book Club! I loved it.


    • says

      I thought his stay with grandma and steppa was transforming him. It was short, but he was getting away from Ma and sleeping on his own and having syrup on his pancakes (or was it waffles? I forget now). It appears he’ll adapt to the outside fine.


  26. Brittney says

    I was completely opposite- I struggled getting through the first half of the book but I was completely in love with the second half. The author did an amazing job with these characters… at first glance, they seem like simple characters, but in fact they are so complex. I love the bravery she put into Jack- I don’t know what 5 year old could act dead like that and save his mom… I can only imagine how scary ‘outer space’ was to him.

    I don’t think that Jack benefited from being in the room. He was OBVIOUSLY a very smart boy… I can’t help but wonder how much smarter he could have been on the outside. Then again, he may not have gotten the same attention on the outside. I can go either way with this one.

    Something from the book that stands out in my mind is how long Jack was breast fed. I often wondered if Ma continued to let him to give him the extra nourishment that his growing body needed, since it was obvious they weren’t getting proper nutrition from the foods that Old Nick brought them. Though you could tell she was hesitant, but I mean who wouldn’t be after 5 years?

    Overall, I loved this book. I’m so glad you suggested it for us to read, because I probably would have never found it on my own.


    • says

      yes!!! the breast feeding was odd to me as well. i wished we would’ve had more info about that – or that ma would’ve been questioned about it once they got out so we could understand that more.


      • says

        I didn’t think about the whole nourishment part but then again, I don’t know a whole lot about the benefits of breast milk. The couple of times her family questioned her, she just swatted their comments away. I’d also like to understand it more. Would it have anything to do with the mother-son bond? Innocence? I felt like it was some sort of message.


        • Liz says

          I think the bond thing is a big one. The two of them were each other’s world for so long in the most intense sense. I think it seems odd because generally we can barely breastfeed to 6 months or even a year so it’s just not seen normally. I definitely think 5 years old is a little extreme for the free living world, but they were in pretty extreme circumstances. Plus, some kids get fixated on certain things and it’s hard to distract them if there’s nothing else to substitute. Maybe this was just Jack’s thing?


  27. Claire says

    This book was incredible. I usually find myself reading girly novels, and this was a perfect change of pace. I’m actually trying to get my husband to read it so I can talk to someone about it!!! After I finished, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days.

    I particularly liked it from Jack’s perspective. While it’s impossible to relate to their situation, I could begin to imagine how Ma would feel about it…but a five year old? No way. It’s such a brilliant concept. How would you feel if your entire reality is completely ripped apart?

    I liked the second half better than the first half. I felt is was more interesting to see him adapt to “Outside” and it made me think of all the unspoken rules we have that we never notice.

    While I wanted more information about how their life evolved, I thought the ending was perfect for the characters. Jack had idolized Room in his mind because it was his everything. Once he went back, he didn’t recognize it. It was a great way to show that sometimes there is much more to the world that we could ever comprehend.

    What are we reading next???


    • says

      I also liked that the book didn’t end with just them getting out of Room but with some story afterward. I didn’t have to wait for a second book though I think a second book is possible because wouldn’t we all like to know how Jack transforms in his teen years and into adulthood?


  28. Yaara says

    Thanks so much for choosing Room. I feel like there’s been so many great comments–there’s not much left to be said. But I guess I’ll comment on how much I loved reading about the fierce intensity Ma’s love was for Jack.
    In the end–it didn’t matter that he was the product of a rape–he was her child and she loved him with every fiber of her being.
    I also loved Steppa–and I too was on the verge of my seat the entiiiiire time Ma was teaching Jack the “escape plan.” I loved how the author took us deep into Jack’s mind in that part–i.e. his fears about failing the plan, his need to keep repeating what to do with the carpet and unrolling himself-it was just so vivid and powerful!!
    I think this is a book every one should read–just to show how truly powerful the bond between a mother and child can be.
    Great questions by the way!–
    3. What I would miss most if I were Ma–Gosh that’s a tough one!!
    BUt–probably the simple pleasures in life–my mom–(she’s my best friend); the sweet warmth of sunlight drenching my face; the feel of the wind against my body; and I guess the possibility that every day is a new one. When you’re in a prison like Ma was–you lose that chance to feel like there’s something new waiting for you.


    • says

      I agree! The author did a great job of painting the room. I could imagine it in my head and it oftentimes crept me out… especially when I was laying in bed reading it. I thought that any second, I could be trapped in my room and got scared!


  29. Gina @ Will Run for Cupcakes says

    Oh no, maybe I’m not ready for the book club. Those are some tough questions…
    I think it’s really hard to imagine what that might be like. I think it was obviously more difficult for “Ma” than it was for Jack. He didn’t know any better.
    I think the story also illuminates the bond between Ma and Jack. It shows how even though they were faced with horrible conditions, they still found a bond.

    I should probably be embarrassed about my response, but that’s all I’ve got!
    Overall it was a great book!!!

    It’s no Cat In The Hat but…


  30. says

    I’ll admit, I had a really hard time with the first half of the book. I almost couldn’t finish it, but the escape kept me turning the pages. I can’t even come close to imagining what I would do in that situation. I really think that Ma was protecting Jack by giving him a sunny outlook on things instead of unloading her pain and grief on him. Something I think happens a lot with parents and their children.


  31. says

    The thing that really knocked me on my ass about Room was the fact that Ma was my age (a little younger actually). I kept trying to put myself in her position, but it was so difficult (emotionally and realistically).


  32. Tori says

    I am so glad that this book won for the book club because once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down! I also enjoyed the first half more, which I found strange considering the situation but I loved the fact that even though they were stuck in that room everyday Ma still made it important for them to eat on schedule, bathe, exercise, do academic type activities, and read. After seven years in a life like that I assumed they would watch TV more and just be lazy, however, I was so impressed that Ma taught Jack to read, write, and his math was so impressive to me. (This may be because I teach 6th grade and I think his math skills were superior to some of my students)
    I was seriously upset with her suicide attempt and couldn’t understand it because she loved Jack so much. I also could not understand her father’s perspective. I know they hated Old Nick, but to not even want to see Jack seemed so hateful to me.
    I really enjoyed this book 🙂 and I would probably ask for books for SundayTreat also because at least it would provide entertainment and a place to escape to mentally.


    • says

      I agree – I also was impressed re: the limits on TV. I think the most amazing thing about this book was how INVENTIVE his mother was to ensure he was taught. The schedules, the creative games (like having to say the last few lines of whatever was just said on TV!), the caution that too much TV was bad, etc. I remember being so impressed that this young woman (who was SO young when she was abducted) set up this entire intricate structure around that little boy’s life. Even though I couldn’t have omitted the truth about the outside world, I have to admit that Ma’s character definitely had her son’s education and readiness in the world at the front of her mind. As the daughter of two schoolteachers, that really (really) stands out in my mind as one of the coolest aspects of this book.


      • says

        The games were really creative. I worked at a preschool for a year and before then, could not remember any games from my childhood! I couldn’t believe she remembered or came up with so many activities that kept him entertained and learning!


  33. Laura says

    I started reading Room about a month ago and I just could not get into the book. I read about the first 35 pages or so and found it to be too disturbing. Does it get any better as you go along?

    Also, I am sure you are aware but just in case you aren’t, did you know there is a Glee Cast station on Pandora? It’s soooo good!!!


    • says

      i’ve heard a LOT of people say it’s hard to get into. i actually liked it right off the bat, but i will say that i think it was MORE intriguing after the first 50 pages or so once they start developing the story and the issues w/ old nick.


    • says

      I think the best part was not so much the beginning with the descriptions but a little farther along when you discover how they ended up there, that they’re outgrowing the room, and the plan to escape. I mostly anticipated what would happen after though because it was obvious they would escape.


  34. Erin says

    I loved the book. Jack was such a lovable character. The book really got me thinking about so many of the things, inside and outside of my room (house), that I take for granted. Jack was so happy with so few things in Room. I’m glad you choose this book because I’m not sure I would have read it otherwise. Can’t wait for the next one!


  35. Tabitha says

    I really enjoyed this book, as it left me looking at the world a bit differently. Even days after I read it I would find myself more aware of the air around me, with a feeling of gratitude for the daily freedom that I have. I absolutely fell in love w/ Jack’s view of the world and how inspiring his take on his “sheltered” life was. Reading from his point of view definitely made the book what it is.

    I did find the first half pretty dark and clausterphobic at times, which made it feel very real. I had to remind myself that crap like this really happens, which leads me to the point that this book reminds me of the resiliency and strength of the human spirit. The second half did an excellent job of showing that this amount of trauma is extremely hard to heal from, but it is not impossible to move on and forward.


  36. says

    I’m so thankful that we read this book! It was good.

    I got annoyed at Jack sometimes because of course, I relate to his mother much better… except the whole suicidal part towards the end.

    1) I would never have thought to raise him in that way. I would probably have told him. I guess I’m not that creative, which is why I thought she did a great job considering the circumstances. I wished throughout the second half that others would have been more accepting. They seemed skeptical and Ma was defending herself.

    2) I believe there are benefits to being raised in such a way. He definitely didn’t get spoiled by the technology. While I think he’s having adjustment problems, he’s young and I believe he will adapt in the long run.

    3) I could not imagine being in the room for so long. I know I wouldn’t survive without everything I have right now including the internet. I probably would have given up and come up with some failed plan long before this story began.

    4) I would end up asking for so many books. If I was stuck in there, that would keep me busy for long enough.


    • jaci says

      I agree with you 100% I think she knew it was time for them to get out and she tested how much he could handle honesty with little stories about JackerJack and the moon until she finally slowly, but also quickly, got it all out there but in a way that he could kind of understand.

      You’re right about the 28 pills 🙂


  37. Cassie says

    I literally just finished reading this book. I really enjoyed it. I’ll admit, I agree with some people, that the beginning of the book was hard for me to get into. I was intrigued though, and continued reading. I was trying to figure out the background of the story and piece together the puzzle while still in the beginning stages of the book. I was hooked in the middle. I couldn’t put the book down. Literally was on the edge of my seat when Ma was teaching Jack about the escape plan. So intense. I have felt like this before during movies, but never from reading a book. (Well done, Emma Donoghue). The second 1/2 was very different from the first but I enjoyed the differences.

    I admired the intense love that Ma had for Jack. I definitely think she was trying to protect him by not telling him about the “outside” world. Who really knows what one would choose to do when put in that situation, you know?Developmentally, a child, can only understand and comprehend so much. There brains are still developing and maturing. I indeed think she was trying to protect him. (I also believe the author was genius in creating this book to have so many controversial issues in it) ;o).

    I am a kindergarten teacher so I am surrounded by 22 five and six year olds on a daily basis. They are so innocent and curious by nature. They want all their “why” questions answered. This is why I can so relate to Ma who was just trying to “protect” Jack from the situation at hand. I think Ma was realizing that Jack was getting older, (along with the fact that it mentioned when Old Nick turned off their electricity and she knew they needed an escape plan), and probably also knew that it was time to let Jack experience the real world or die trying…(which I think Ma saw as a better option than to die b/c Old Nick turned off their electricity and they died of starvation or something else)

    Anyways, my thoughts are disorganized, but I did really enjoy this book. It is definitely thought provoking. I wish I could have read a book like this in high school. But then again, I don’t think I would have been able to appreciate it in high school, the way I can now.

    I do vaguely remember reading about the birth control pills and it talking about the 28 pack of pills. I believe this was towards the beginning of the book (and that was when it was hard for me to get into the book so I think I read over some details not really internalizing them thinking if I kept reading then I’d come to the point where I was ‘hooked’ on the book). I believe the author does this on purpose. This is my opinion at least. She allows the reader to take his or her own perspective and opinion on the book and Ma’s situation. Either way, was it right for Ma to have Jack? Was she being selfish? Regardless, she made the best of the situation and had such an intense love for Jack. I believe that is why they both survived for so long. Ma was literally living off her love for Jack and Jack was surviving because of his mother’s intense love for him and ability and willingness to provide him with the best environment possible regarding their circumstances. She would do anything as long as Old Nick left Jack alone. Remember, she didn’t even want Old Nick to look at Jack.

    That’s it for now. Please excuse all grammatical/spelling errors. It’s late, I didn’t spell check this, and my brain is fried from working with 5 year olds all day. ;o) I am very eager to read the Jaycee Dugard memoir, A Stolen Life.


  38. says

    I loved this book! Great pick. But for me, it started off a little slow, especially getting used to the 5-year-old voice. But once I was in, I was hooked. I even found my heart pounding during “The Great Escape!” So so good.

    For Sunday treat, I would probably ask for books to read, to allow me to escape outside of the room and use my imagination. OR… chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream, of course! 🙂


  39. Clair says

    Regarding Ma’s suicide attempt, I had different views. I felt that Ma was perhaps struck by grief over everything that had happened to her and she tried to end that pain.

    She was a survivor. She did everything she could for her child because she *had* to when she was in room. When she escaped, she was still trapped, she was still essentially a prisoner – first in the hospital and then even when escaping – she was still hunted by the media and villianized.

    I think it would be incredibly shocking that the “freedom” and the idea of freedom (aka the hammock etc) which would have kept her hopes alive whilst in room, were dashed after leaving it.

    I felt her suicide attempt was a result of still being trapped emotionally even though she wasn’t physically still in the room. And what do you do when you are trapped? You try and escape. And I think the attempt was her desperately trying to escape. That was my view. I think it essentially had nothing to do with Jack. I think Ma was just so trapped in grief, she couldn’t see anyway out of it.

    Another part that stuck with me, was how the author explained so vividly that Jack walked on all fours. The animal imagery stuck with me and it was so interesting to think of how delayed Jack was in so many ways (for example – he had never had exposure to germs and had to wear a gasp). Yet, Ma’s mothering skills were fascinating as she was so imaginative and sensible and gave him a childhood even though her own had been snatched from her.

    I also loved how Ma said that Old Jack wouldn’t read and that she insisted on how important it was for Jack and Ma to read. LOVED that.

    Beautiful book Julie. I cried through the entire book, however – how original! how beautiful. What a *different* and refreshingly written book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


  40. says

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book! I personally struggled with Jack’s voice but I eventually got used to it. I found the entire thing quite dark, however, I enjoyed the second part much more than the first.

    I dont think Jack benefited from being in the room at all!! Sure his mom was creative and did the best she could for him, but i cant imagine how not being in the world during such formative years will affect him in the future.

    If i were Ma, i would miss interaction with other people!! That has to drive you insane!! I think that once she was out and didnt have to worry about jack being cared for soley by her, that she slipped into even more of a depression that sparked her suicide attempt. Coming back into the world and realizing all she missed and the magnitude of what Nick has taken from her.

    On a lighter note – for Sundaytreat I’d totally ask for ice cream 😉


  41. Alisha says

    I definitely had some difficulty reading this but it was very unique.

    I think I would tell him about the outside world. His Ma kind of threw all this information at him at once because she felt he was old enough to understand and it was time to try and escape. He thought she was lying. Everything he though was fake or “TV” was real and while he’s out of Room he is afraid of everything at first because he never thought it was real. It was so hard for him to understand that were in a bad place which just made me feel so sad for Ma because Room was different for both of them.

    I think there was no benefit at all to being raised in Room. His mother did a good job for what she has in the circumstances but out in the world there was no benefit for him. The only good I can think of is the relationship he has with his Ma but it does come with the bad like seperation is and will be hard for Jack.

    I think I would miss my family and friends the most!

    I would ask for books like everyone else I think. You have it for a long time and it could keep you busy for a long time.


  42. jenny says

    I loved the book – I think reading from Jack’s perspective actually made the reading experience more absorbing… I read a lot, and using that tone of voice just helped me get into the book seamlessly (although it was a lot harder to “wake up” from it when I had to go to work)

    As far as Ma’s choice goes, I’m not sure that the option of not telling jack about the outside world would have even occured to me…. whether or not it was the right or wrong decision, the fact that she even came up with and sustained that plan for so long is impressive alone.

    I think figuring out sundaytreat must have been the hardest thing for Ma – you know she wanted to have something special, but at the same time had basic items like clothing she needed to ask for.

    Finally, like a lot of people commenting, I was touched by Ma’s and Jack’s closeness but slightly disturbed at the level of it sometimes. I think some of the things were more for Ma’s comfort and just inhibited Jack – for example, him never bathing without Ma in the tub with him.

    @Claire – somehow I missed the all fours thing! I’ll have to go find it….


  43. jaci says

    Honestly, I don’t think I would have done anything different when it came to telling me things because of his age. Though the situation is totally different, I grew up with a single mother who did her best to be completely honest with me and treated me as an adult with honest answers when she thought the timing was best or honesty was needed. I remember one time when I was in pre-K I asked my mom what being gay meant and she went into this long story about how when to men or two women love each other, etc., ect. and I just looked at her and said “oh, my teacher thought it meant gay”. I also think that growing up in room wasn’t “great” for Jack, but he was extremely literate for his age (especially compared to the cousin) and quite creative. The obvious disadvantages come from the lack of personal contact with the outside world and all that comes with being locked in a room for the first 5 years of his life.

    I think it all happened so fast because she realized that Old Nick didn’t care whether or not they survived, so she needed to do something to try and save them.

    As far the closeness goes, I personally think it was for the both of them to feel safe. If I were locked up in a small room I think I would totally bathe with my child and I didn’t find the breast-feeding weird like so many people in the book did. I guess most people are use to their lives and the world around them, so seeing a small child rather than a baby breast-feeding is not “normal”, but when you and your child are already malnourished because you are being held captive, breast-feeding is the only way to ensure a bit more nutrients and nourishment is being pumped into your child’s body.

    Overall, I absolutely loved this book, but got annoyed with how little the grandmother understood the situation (I also really, really disliked the real grandfather, but could kind of understand). I felt for Ma and how she struggled with trying to be the constant, and sole figure to Jack since that’s what he was use to (along with being a typical needy, annoying 5 year old) while trying to regain a little bit of her old independent life. Being a parent is hard for anyone I think, so being a parent while being thrown back into a world at 26 that you were taken out of when you were 19 would have to cause such an internal struggle.

    I’m with you and didn’t find this book to dark or disturbing, for me it was more of a love story between a parent and their child.


  44. Kate M says

    I also preferred the first half of the book to the second. I found Ma’s character development within the room interesting. You could feel the terror develop as she realized how the room was effecting Jack’s understanding of the world. Then when she started explaining their circumstances you could hear the flood gates open and feel the sense of relief that she was finally able to talk to someone about what had happened. You get an idea of how young she actually is.

    Great book, I simply couldn’t put it down! Thanks for suggesting it!


  45. says

    did anyone listen to the audiobook of this? I did and loved it. It was a little weird hearing a kids voice on end for hours, but you got used to it.

    I loved the 2nd half of the book better. The first half kept creeping me out.

    I kept trying to figure out whether or not “ma” was raped regularly, or if “old nick” just gave up after he bore two children.

    Coming from a sociology background I found this book very intriguing. I keep trying to figure out what happened to “old nick” for him to want to do this to them. Will Jack also crave similar things because of this?


  46. says

    I really was not a fan of Room! I wrote a longer review on my blog ( but here were some of my main issues with it:

    1. The book doesn’t have a plot for the first 100 pages. That’s a really long time to go without a plot. I got really bored and was tempted to go online looking for spoilers, just so I’d know there was something coming eventually.

    2. After a few pages, the novelty of the child narrator wore off and I just found him annoying. And a little unrealistic. He knows big words like “omnivore” but he says things like “Ma hotted up my food in the microwave.”

    3. The second “act,” so to speak, was awful. There were a few highlights, but on the whole, the whole thing seemed better suited for a novella or short story that ended after those awesome ten pages during the rescue.

    4. The breastfeeding creeped me out.

    5. I found Ma pretty unlikeable throughout the book. What really shocked me was her suicide attempt. After all that, after seven years of unimaginable horror, after risking her own life and her child’s life…she went and downed a bottle of pills??

    6. Jack’s family members weren’t very nice people.


  47. Beth (Well I'll Be) says

    I’m a little late to book club, but the discussion has been great so far! I loved the book. I have to say the whole time when they were out I was kind of waiting for something to happen and I guess that’s the role the suicide attempt filled. I kind of kept waiting even after that and then the book ended. It was great hearing about their adjustments though. The most interesting to me was in the end when Ma is talking about her social interactions and how she’s not like she used to be and the Dr’s tell her she had to change to survive. It’s so true. I’m sure everyone (including Ma) thought they’d pick up where they left off, but it was impossible. Thinking about stuff like that just blows my mind.
    It made me so mad when Paul and his family attempted to take Jack to the museum and did something as careless as stopping off for a birthday present! The whole time I was thinking “This is one of the biggest moments of his life and you’re worried about a birthday gift!” Everything turned out fine but I was a nervous wreck. I think that’s one of the little things that just shows the contrast between everyone elses’ everyday lives and Ma and Jack’s when they were in Room.
    I wish they’d touched a little more on how everyone dealt with the disappearance. I thought it was interesting how different her parents dealt with it, which ended up tearing them apart. Maybe in addition to another book from Ma’s POV there could be one from the familys’.


  48. says

    I LOVED this book, a lot. I thought the author did a great job at writing it from Jack’s perspective. I think it would be really neat if there were books from another point of view too.

    I think Ma did the right thing, not telling Jack – probably made it easier for him, and she did a really good job teaching him things (like how to read, etc.)

    The question of whether or not Jack will be messed up in the future was interesting to me, too (but I’m a psychology instructor, so…)


  49. Amanda says

    I have just read this book, and could hardly put it down! It certainly wasn’t a lovely pleasant read, but it was so good. Some bits were super intense, but I loved loved LOVED the point of view it was told from. It put a spin on a really horrid situation that could have been so heavy. I found it overall to be a fine balance between the repelling and compelling.

    In terms of the attempted suicide – I’m not sure Ma was trying to end her life. I think she was just really struggling to deal with the outside world. After trying desperately to get out of Room for so long, I think the outside came with unexpected problems, like thinking about financial security. Ma was just overwhelmed by this all, and it came to a head in the interview. I think she just wanted to escape for a bit, and she loved Jack too fiercely to leave forever.

    I thought the ending was beautiful too, it made me cry! I definitely looked at the world differently after reading this book.


  50. James says

    Here’s the thing: I loved Room soooo much and the suicide attempt from Ma really ruined it for me. I just don’t ever think that she would do that! Maybe seeing things through Jack’s point of view masked her pain a little. I know how hard it was for her, but I honestly do not see that happening and I was just so disappointed with her. Where does she think he would go? Grandma and Steppas? Pauls? Your mother, especially in this case, committing suicide has an INCREDIBLE affect on your child, and its the most selfish thing I could think for her to do. No matter what I hear about her terrible pain, I can’t make out a reason why she would do this. It felt completely out of place with her character



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