Featured Review: “Room” by Emma Donoghue

Featured Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Cover: RoomIn a writer’s group I participate in someone recently asked for recommendations of novels to look at as examples in creating the voice of a child narrator.

I’ve always been interested in books with child narrators because I think one of the hardest jobs writers can set for themselves is the creation of a child’s voice. The successful portrayal of a child narrator involves not only age-appropriate vocabulary and sentence structure, but also a way of looking at the world that fits the child’s age.

Emma Donoghue does a remarkable job with 5-year-old Jack in the novel Room. When the book first came out, some critics said that Jack sounds much older than 5. They’re right: Jack doesn’t sound like a typical 5-year old.

But that’s because Jack isn’t a typical 5-year-old. He’s a child who has been confined to a single room for his entire life. The only person he’s had contact with is his mother, who has spent every moment of Jack’s 5 years looking out for him, trying to provide him as much stimulation as possible within their restricted environment. Jack has never talked to other children, only to his mother. I would have found it strange if Jack did sound like a typical 5-year-old.

Room is one of the best examples I know of how to create a convincing child narrator.

If you have a favorite novel narrated by a child, please let us know in the comment section.

‘America’s Final Beginning’ a clumsy, preachy novel written by a beginner

‘America’s Final Beginning’ a clumsy, preachy novel written by a beginner.

I offer this review as a good definition of what is commonly known as a “program novel” or a “propaganda novel”: a novel that is written to portray a message but that forgets the first requirement of a novel is to tell a good story and tell it well.

New Material Added to Notes in the Margin

Yesterday I added the following new material:

Most of this material is actually “old” notes that I’m just now getting around to posting after moving the site.

But the review of “V” Is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton really is new.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

The Snowman (Harry Hole, #7)The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although I did find the story compelling, the beginning of this book really dragged for me. I imagine the slow, drawn-out opening might not be such a problem for Norwegian readers who have followed Harry Hole through the 6 previous novels, but coming in well into the series like this made it hard for me to get involved with Harry and all his personal angst.



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Scout, Atticus & Boo

Scout, Atticus & Boo – CSMonitor.com:

Yvonne Zipp, in Christian Science Monitor, reviews a new book issued to honor the fiftieth anniversary–July 11–of the publication of Harper Lee’s iconic novel To Kill a Mockingbird: “‘Scout, Atticus & Boo’ is a lovely celebration of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ And if, in the end, many of the interviews boil down to: This is a really, really good book… well, they’re right. “