As part of our Best Books of 2010 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
It’s no secret that we love to talk—and write—about our favorite books here at BookPage. And this year, I’ve had no problem talking about Emma Donoghue’s remarkable novel Room. I read Room over the summer, when we were debating who to interview for our September issue.
When I’m reviewing fiction for BookPage, I read as much as I can of the novels we are interested in. But with over 100 novels to consider each month, I don’t get to read as much of each novel as I would like. I try to read 50 pages or so, just to get the feel of the novel. But with Room, I couldn’t stop at 50 pages. I read the entire novel sitting at my desk one day, and then I walked into our editor Lynn’s office and told her we had to interview Emma Donoghue.
I was bleary-eyed from reading such a powerful novel so quickly, but I knew Room was a book we had to tell our readers about. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way about Room, but I still remember the power of the reading experience and the urgency I felt to get the word out to other readers.
Room’s premise is hauntingly familiar given recent headlines—a five-year-old boy, Jack, is being raised by a loving, attentive mother he calls Ma, in the only world he’s ever known, Room. Through the innocent eyes of Jack—and the completely original, inspired writing of Donoghue—we come to learn that Room is a soundproof converted shed in the backyard of a twisted kidnapper Jack knows as Old Nick, who has held Ma hostage for years, and Jack for his entire life.
If the novel sounds dark, well, it is; but what makes it great is the way in which Donoghue pitch-perfectly captures the voice of Jack in all his childlike wonder—even in the most unimaginable situation. Room is his home, his school and his playground, and Donoghue makes it ours, too. She gives us a haunting image of what it would be like, god forbid, to be a child raised in captivity—and worse, what it would be like to be that child’s mother. And yet somehow, despite the horrific storyline, Donoghue manages to teach us a great deal about the power of love, the importance of hope and the resilience of the human spirit. It’s unlike anything I have ever read, and it’s a book I still haven’t stopped thinking about, all these months later. When it came time to cast my votes for the best books of 2010, I didn’t hesitate—Room was my #1 pick. And as it turns out, it is our overall #1 pick, too. If you haven’t read it yet, I have only these words for you: Go read it. Now.