Sunday Book Club! Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt

Hello again!
Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “Pictures of You” by Caroline Leavitt.

Initial Thoughts:
“Pictures…” is yet another book I don’t remember any initial details about like where I first heard about it, or why I wanted to read it. After reading the back of the book again, I was intrigued by the mystery, but concerned that this would be nothing more than a sappy romance novel. Unfortunately I was right. I want to keep Spoilers to a minimum so this is going to be a short review as there’s not a lot I can say, but keep reading to see my overall thoughts on this novel & if it’s worth picking up!

Plot:
“Pictures…” is marketed as the story of two women, & that’s kind of true, but it’s more about what happens to their loved ones after their lives intersect. Isabelle has been trapped in a loveless marriage essentially since she was just a kid. April is basically the polar opposite, or so you’d think if you saw her & her “perfect” family. Isabelle discovers her husband is not only cheating on her, but has gotten his girlfriend pregnant, something he & Isabelle had never been able to do. She leaves him & is in a horrible car accident with none other than April. She is also leaving her husband, Charlie, & has taken their son, Sam. Sam & Isabelle escape the car accident relatively unharmed, but April is killed. The book follows everyone’s journey to find peace & answers – along the way discovering that sometimes the people you need most, are the most unexpected.
SPOILERS! Yes, Isabelle & Charlie eventually start a relationship, which ends for the sake of Sam. He finds out about the romance & is distraught because he believed Isabelle was an angel meant to help him communicate with his mother, not get in bed with his dad. I think the idea of a child having a hard time adjusting to his father having an intimate relationship with someone other than his mother is quite normal, so I didn’t really find that part of the story particularly interesting or dramatic. Eventually readers also find out that April was leaving Charlie because she’d been carrying on an affair with a married man, so her perfect life, isn’t as perfect as it appeared. In the end, everyone figures their lives out in an ending that doesn’t quite make sense to me, but maybe when you read the book you’ll be able to shed some light for me!

Overall:
This was a fairly quick & easy read, but honestly a bit boring. I’m not sure where all these amazing reviews are coming from, but I felt like the mystery of why April was leaving Charlie drove all of my interest. Once I found out she was cheating, I felt kind of let down because it was such a “normal” thing. I thought the big reveal was going to be something much…bigger! In the end, they were all just normal people trying to get through another day, making bad decisions & a tragic accident brings it all to light & then they have to learn how to function again. Maybe because I’ve had tragedy in my life I don’t find the topic extremely stimulating anymore? I’m not sure, but I just didn’t quite connect with this book in the way other reviewers seem to have.

Rating: C
I gave this book a C rating because it was a quick read that kept me somewhat entertained. However, as mentioned above, once you actually broke down the idea of what was happening, it was all rather average & boring. I’m not really sure who this book is intended for because I think even the most hopeless romantic would be soured by the ending. Not going to reveal any SPOILERS! there, you’ll have to read it for yourself if you’re interested – or send me an email & we’ll talk about it 🙂

Have you read or heard of “Pictures of You” or Caroline Leavitt? If so, what are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is June 26th & the book is “The Reflections of Queen Snow White” by David Meredith. If you’re not already a Follower of this blog, you’ll want to hit that FOLLOW button to get notified when that Review comes out as there’s also a pretty cool announcement along with it!

Sunday Book Club! The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, & One Man’s Quest to be a Better Husband

Hello again!
Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “The Journal of Best Practices…” by David Finch.
Disclaimer: In no way do I intend to offend anyone with my Review. I have very limited knowledge of Asperger Syndrome or the mental health community as a whole, so please take my personal spin on this with a grain of salt, or feel free to educate me/start a conversation in the Comments below.

Initial Thoughts:
Many years ago I dated someone whose brother had AS & I was somewhat convinced my ex did too to some degree. As I’ve stated many times before, my To Read List is THAT old! I came across this book because I was researching AS, desperate to find an explanation for my ex’s awkward/bad behaviors. I realize now how sick it was to wish that he had AS, but I wanted an explanation that would be “fixable” & I felt like there might be a connection because of the family history & the many similar symptoms/traits the brothers shared. What gave one the diagnosis of AS & what made the other “just acting like a guy”?  Obviously that relationship ended long ago but this book has stayed on my To Read List mainly to educate myself somewhat on AS & out of curiosity to see what I’ll take away from it at this point. Keep reading to find out what that is…

Plot:
“The Journal of Best Practices…” is the Memoir of David Finch, a regular guy with a regular life that seems to be going downhill at a rapid pace – until he’s diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. While it seems odd that a diagnosis such as this would be a change for the better, Finch & his wife Kristen are thrilled at this discovery because it explains so much of Finch’s behaviors. He’s not an insensitive jerk, his brain just doesn’t process life the same way. With Kristen’s help, Finch sets out to identify his most destructive behaviors & try his best to change them. The Journal of Best Practices is a reference to Finch’s numerous notes, reflections, & realizations that he comes upon during this journey. “TJoBP” tells the story of a couple fighting to make their love work despite great odds.

Characters:
David Finch – I have mixed feelings about Finch. On one hand, I found him to be relatable yet a refreshing depiction of a married man. He loves being married to Kristen & sees the value in their friendship. Once diagnosed he goes out of his way to better their relationship, including reading Cosmopolitan in an effort to find ways to connect with her. I think it’s noble he made the effort to admit changes needed to be made, & then he tried to his best to make them, even at the sake of his masculinity. There are several instances where Finch could continue to let AS get the better of him, but he remembers his marriage is at stake & even though he’s uncomfortable, he fights it. I can somewhat relate to this because my aforementioned ex had PTSD & would pick & choose when it bothered him. For example, we couldn’t go to Disneyland because there were too many people & he would be uncomfortable. However, he was able to go to Galaxy games with his friends in a huge stadium full of people. I tried to be sympathetic/understanding, but eventually it became obvious my kindness was being taken advantage of, so I appreciate people that don’t use their mental health as an excuse to get out of things they don’t want to do. On the other hand, it’s hard to look past Finch’s egocentricity, although that’s part of AS. It’s kind of sad that he didn’t feel a need to change his behaviors until he was diagnosed. I understand because of AS he was quick to shift all the blame to Kristen, but at the same time, it’s a little hard to swallow that he felt NO responsibility for his own happiness.

Quotes:
– Pg 1: I quickly found myself enjoying Finch’s style of writing. It has a real stream of consciousness style that is relatable & comical.
– Pg 94: “Transformation is always an option”

Overall:
“TJoBP” reminded me of “The Vow” by Kim & Krickitt Carpenter. Both are told from the husband’s point of view & tell the story of a young couple fighting for love against neurological medical odds. “The Vow” was a whirlwind romance that seemed hard to believe, but I think readers will find “TJoBP” much more relatable. There’s always that moment when you realize your partner is NOT the person you fell in love with & you have to figure out what that means for the future. To the best of my ability, I understand why the diagnosis was a welcome relief to the Finch family. I was looking for that relief in regards to my ex, as mentioned earlier, because if something’s wrong, there’s an excuse! They aren’t acting this way on purpose, it’s their brain! It’s something that can be fixed with medication or therapy, they’re not an inherently bad person. Finch unknowingly let AS get the best of him & was willing & able to take steps to create a better life. Not everyone with AS is willing & able to do that, so it’s important to note that every diagnosis is different & the severity of each case ranges. Also – note to self – it’s best not to go looking for a diagnosis where none is needed. Sometimes people just change, or rather, reveal their true colors & while it’s difficult to come to terms with, deep down, we know what’s right. On another note, your interpretation/enjoyment of this story will definitely depend on your connection/feelings about Mental Health/”Invisible Illness” issues.

Rating: C+
While I found Finch’s writing clever, I think I’m growing tired of Memoirs. It got a little stale in the middle. I put the book down & almost didn’t care to pick it back up. After the diagnosis, there are some funny, poignant moments but otherwise it’s just the day to day story of this man’s life. While his journey is certainly admirable, is it entertaining? After a few chapters of “Here’s something I’m not good at, Kristen helps me, I struggle, I’m better at this thing”, I was thinking, “OH MY GOOOOSH WE GET IT!!!”

Do you have any experience with AS or other Mental Health issues? If you’ve read this book, would you recommend it? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is June 12th; “Pictures of You” by Caroline Leavitt.

Sunday Book Club! Straight From the Source by Kim Osorio

Hello again!
Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “Straight from the Source” by Kim Osorio.

Initial Thoughts:
I don’t remember how I came across this book, but I was intrigued at the idea of learning more about a woman’s role in the Journalism/Entertainment Industry, especially in a position of power. I don’t really know anything about Hip Hop music/culture, so I wasn’t sure I’d understand the story…keep reading to see my thoughts!

Plot:
“SFTS” tells the real life story – according to her – of Kim Osorio & how she works her way up from unpaid Internships to becoming the Editor in Chief of her favorite magazine, The Source. Before reading this I was not familiar with The Source, but apparently it was considered the “Hip Hop Bible”, so working there was a huge career builder, & being in charge was a huge accomplishment. Along the road to fame, Osorio runs into some complications – not being taken seriously because she’s a woman, being disrespected by her male peers/superiors, & dodging questions & assumptions from others about her romantic relationship with certain celebrities. Eventually Osorio sues The Source for sexual harassment & this story is an exposé of what happened during her time there.

Characters:
Kim Osorio – At first I related to Kim while she struggled & jumped from unpaid Internship to unpaid Internship. I sympathized with her because she’s so passionate about Hip Hop & Journalism & wants to make a career out of her passions, but just can’t seem to make the right connections. I know that struggle! However, I became annoyed with her constant name dropping of celebrities & talk of how well connected she was. Most of the story is about Osorio denying that she’s a groupie, but after a while it sort of felt like, “she doth protest too much”. She talks about her relationships with big name celebrities like Nas & 50 Cent to the point that I wonder if they were okay with this book being published. She’s certainly entitled to a relationship that makes her happy, but something about Osorio’s attitude makes it seem like she’s just trying to get her 15 minutes of fame.

Quotes:
– Pg 71: “Sorry, but I didn’t recognize random white chicks who wanted to be down with Hip Hop”
– Pg 272: “I wonder why the hip-hop circle is so damn judgmental” – both quotes from Kim Osorio
This is but one quote in a sea of moments where I felt alienated & judged by Osorio because I wasn’t “down” with Hip Hop. Judgement is part of the reason I don’t really like Hip Hop or the Music Industry culture in general. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE music itself, but I hate that each genre is a clique. Reading Osorio’s judgement made me feel bad because she’s missing the opportunity to share her passion for Hip Hop with a varied audience that might find the same love she has. Then she goes & says that she doesn’t understand why the Industry is so judgmental, she’s part of the problem! Hypocrisies like this are why I’m not a fan of Osorio.
– Pg 260: “…job security was always a [seious] issue…” (I added brackets to point out the spelling error)
I found at least 4 typos along with several missing commas or periods. She was the EIC of a major magazine & couldn’t edit her own book properly!?
– Pg 272: “…I will never be able to recover my reputation…although the girls & I in the network can, as one of my friend jokes, walk up to so many men in the industry & embarrass them by holding our hands up in front of them as a measure of how big or small we know they are…I will never be able to shake my image in the eyes of some people as the girl who slept with a bunch of rappers” – Kim Osorio
This quote continues to confuse me in regards to how Osorio wants to be seen. Sometimes she’s a hardworking, powerful woman that had sexist lies told about her, & other times she says things like this which make her seem like the groupie she keeps denying she is.

Overall:
As mentioned in my “Initial Thoughts” I don’t really have an interest in Hip Hop culture so there were moments where I had little to no idea who or what Osorio was talking about. It wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t understand the overall story, but there were details that a more educated reader would have found interesting, but were over my head. Osorio’s writing style is interesting, there’s heavy swearing & use of slang. I was intrigued by this story, but Osorio’s hypocrisy became too much to keep track of. Besides the constant “I have sex with lots of Industry men/I’ve only had a few relationships with Industry men” story line, there was another plot point where she talks about how she was forced to make decisions for The Source that she didn’t believe were right & it made her uncomfortable because her name was being signed on work she didn’t think was good. Then at the end of the book she talks about how the work you do speaks louder than the place you work, so she’s lucky to always have her work at The Source to show her skills. Didn’t you spend a majority of the book talking about how your bosses forced you to make bad decisions that you didn’t agree with!? So what’s the part of your work that you’re proud of? I always felt like I was missing something or getting tripped up by Osorio’s BS.

Rating: Originally rated B, but while writing this review lowered to a C
At first I gave this book a B rating because it was a quick read that kept me entertained. However, while writing this Review, I couldn’t wash away the bad taste this book left in my mouth. I think this story was meant to be read specifically by Osorio’s peers that had heard the rumors & were judging her. It was her chance to clear the air/cover her ass/name names/kiss & tell, basically one big mass defense of her actions while at The Source, but ultimately unless you were part of the story or the culture, why would you care? I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are familiar with The Source, Hip Hop culture, or the study of Feminism. There are a lot of Feminist plot points that I can see making interesting discussions in a Literature/Gender/Music Industry class or for personal study if that’s your passion.

Have you read or heard of The Source? Have you read this book or other Industry Autobiographies like this?  If so, what are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is May 29th & the book is “The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband” by David Finch.

Sunday Book Club! I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

Hello again!
Thanks for joining me for another Sunday Book Club! Today I’ll be reviewing “I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag” by Jennifer Gilbert. Please hit that FOLLOW button to subscribe to the blog, if you haven’t already & SHARE with your friends!

Initial Thoughts:
Surprisingly, I found this book at the Dollar Tree. I was intrigued by the idea of reading about someone with a successful career in Event Planning – my future career – hopefully! I was hoping to simply pick up some career tips, but I found so much more inspiration than just that! This book was also bought for me as a Christmas gift, which makes me happy that someone knew me well enough to know I would appreciate this story.

Plot:
“…Goodie Bag” is the story of Jennifer Gilbert. She’s the creative, ambitious, girl next door living a relatively normal life…until a horrible crime is committed against her in her early twenties & everything changes. The details of the crime are truly disgusting. They make me lose my faith in humanity even more, & I’m talking about Gilbert’s “friends”, not just the criminal. The scenes where she discusses the immediate aftermath of the crime are pretty intense. I raced through them because I wanted to absorb all the information as quickly as possible, but ended up going back and re-reading some passages because I wanted to make sure I was processing everything correctly. After the attack Gilbert finds a career in Event Planning, eventually starting her own company, Save the Date. The memoir follows her life as she learns to cope with her attack & struggles to find a sense of normalcy again.

Characters:
– Jennifer: OH! MY! GOSH! Jennifer Gilbert is my spirit animal. I love everything about her, I hope she reads this Review & decides to hire me, haha! I connected with her sense of humor, work ethic, and struggle with her inner demons. At some points Gilbert seems to be a bit ungrateful – something she acknowledges & struggles with. Yes, she went through an extremely traumatic experience but ultimately ends up having a wonderful life otherwise yet can’t always appreciate it. However, I think we all can sympathize with what it’s like to want something so badly (in her case, a normal life) & have it taken away. It’s hard to focus on a new target when the one you had in mind & had been working towards has been destroyed, especially when you’re as competitive as Gilbert. It feels nearly impossible to admit defeat & start over, but eventually we have to learn that starting over is just part of life. It’s a learning experience that helps us grow & become better. I appreciated that she’s not afraid to admit she needs professional help in the form of a therapist. I feel like so many people brush aside this notion as “crazy”, but I think therapy can be extremely helpful if you allow it to be.

Quotes:
– Before the book even begins I’m in love with chapter titles like “This is Not My Fabulous Life” & “Keep Calm & Carry On”.
– Pg 4: “…while I was fixing things for other people, I didn’t have to think twice about myself. Obsessing over every tiny detail of other people’s most important events was what I did best. It was the perfect way to avoid thinking about the dark, scary void inside me”
Working hard & challenging myself has helped me move past some of my hardest struggles, so I understand where she’s coming from.
– Pg 109: “My mission…was to surround myself with people who were celebrating, and to know that I had helped them make their joy tangible”
THIS. This is why I want to be in Event Planning. Events can sometimes seem a little frivolous & self involved but joy can be so hard to come by these days. If I could help bring awesome memories to someone through a spectacular Event – that would give me such a great feeling of accomplishment & personal satisfaction. With quotes like this, the readers sees how Gilbert changes throughout her narrative, moving from someone who uses Events to hide herself away to someone that wants to connect with others & help them.
– Overall there were MANY quotes I pulled from this book that really spoke to me, some even made me cry because of how spot on they were to feelings I had or have. However, for the sake of lengthiness, I’ve chosen to not include any more.

Overall:
This book was a quick & easy read, especially because I was interested & highly entertained by the subject matter. This book really spoke to the issue of no matter what’s going on in our life, if we can’t move past our demons, we lose all perspective. A few years after the crime, Gilbert is living a life many only dream of. At 25 years old she’s extremely successful in her career, starting her own business, & has a huge social circle including a long term boyfriend. However, none of this matters to her as she can’t move past the trauma of her attack. Her story reminds me of a Joseph Campbell quote, “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us”.

Rating: A+
If you can’t tell, I LOVED this book. I would 100% recommend it. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I could relate to the author so much, but I found it to be a non preachy tale of triumph & perseverance in the face of much adversity. Gilbert’s story inspired me, made me feel, & gave me hope for my own future. The book doesn’t have a ton to do with Event Planning in the sense that I was able to gain ideas of how to begin my career, but that was still a fun personal touch/connection for me.

Have you read “I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag” or a book related to your career field? If so, what are your thoughts? Do you enjoy learning about your field from someone else’s point of view? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club read will be May 15th & the book is, “Straight From the Source” by Kim Osario.

Sunday Book Club! “The Little Giant of Aberdeen County” by Tiffany Baker

Hey everyone!
Today’s post will be a review on “The Little Giant of Aberdeen County” by Tiffany Baker.
I hope you’ve been enjoying these Sunday Book Club posts. Even if you’re not reading the book before the review is posted, hopefully you’re discovering some new literature/authors you’re interested in.
Please click the FOLLOW button to stay updated with all my posts & videos!

Initial Thoughts:
My Book List is at least 5 years old, so sometimes I don’t remember why I put a book on it. “Little Giant” is one of those books. Even when I read the back of the book I was still wondering why I’d wanted to read it. The description was too vague. I couldn’t figure out if there was going to be actual magic in play or if it was metaphorical. However, if a book made it to my Book List, 99% of the time I read it even if I don’t understand why I wanted to in the first place. I figure that at one point something piqued my interest so it deserves a read. Keep reading to find out what I thought of “Little Giant”!

Plot:
“Little Giant” is the story of Truly, a huge girl in a small town. Her parents die & Truly & her sister Serena Jane are left to fend for themselves. Their lives take them on completely different journeys yet ultimately keep them close & bring them together despite tragedy after tragedy. The story follows Truly as she figures out where she fits into her world despite her big size & insecurities.

Quotes:
– Pg 1: Not a specific quote, but the Prologue was kind of confusing & didn’t start the book off in a great way for me. It’s a flash forward covering a scene from the end of the book & I was thinking, “What? Who?! What does that mean?” There were a lot of details, but no real information & for whatever reason it didn’t pull me into the story but kind of made me turn my nose up at it.
– Again, not a specific quote, but just a warning that this book can be pretty dark. There’s quite a lot of death, a rape scene, & several graphic passages about war in Vietnam.

Rating: D
This wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read but I did have a hard time finishing it. I was able to put the book down for days at a time & feel no desire to keep reading, which is extremely strange for me. Even if I’m not loving a book I usually feel a strong urge to keep reading simply just to finish & move on. This book made me feel lethargic. It just didn’t have enough oomph! It was boring. I realize the story is taking place over a lifetime, but even so, it moved so slow & was often predictable. I found the characters unlikeable & therefore didn’t care what happened to them, which of course only increased my lack of desire to keep reading.

Have you read this book? If so, what are your thoughts? Am I being too harsh? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club will be posted May 1st & the book is “I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag” by Jennifer Gilbert. I just started reading it & I already love it!

Sunday Book Club! Paper Towns by John Green

Hello again!
I hope you’ve all been enjoying these Sunday Book Club posts! I would love more of your book suggestions in the Comment section below or via Social Media! Remember you can add me on Twitter/Instagram: @MissAl_Leigh
Also, please hit the FOLLOW button to get email updates for new posts 🙂
Please keep reading to see my thoughts on “Paper Towns” by John Green.

Initial Thoughts:
This book came recommended by one of my college roommates that really likes John Green. I was nervous because he obviously has a reputation for writing Young Adult novels, which I’ve found to be very hit or miss. Also, I knew he was behind “The Fault in Our Stars” & I didn’t want to read a depressing book. However, my friend assured me that “Paper Towns” was different – so off I went.

Plot:
“Paper Towns” is about a teenage boy named Quentin & the wild adventure his life takes him on when he becomes involved with his next door neighbor Margo – who he’s been in love with basically forever. One day Margo disappears & Quentin sets off on a journey to find her following clues he believes she left for him. It’s a coming of age story that teaches us that first impressions can be deceiving & it’s always important to give people a chance to show us who they are. I really can’t say too much more than that without giving everything away.

Characters:
– Margo: About half way through the book, I was over this girl. I had no idea why Quentin was so obsessed with her, I suppose because she was a mystery to him & he was intrigued. Once you get to know her though, she’s such a brat. She’s super selfish and overly dramatic. There were several points where I thought she was going to die & I was totally fine with it. I’m ashamed to say I was like this at one point in my life. Now that I’m “older & wiser”, I have no patience for whiny teenage girls that think everything revolves around them & every bad thing that happens is the end of the world.

Quotes:
– Pg 75: “I shaved this morning for PRECISELY that reason. I was like, ‘Well, you never know when someone is going to clamp down on your calf and try to suck out the snake poison.'” – Margo
The dialogue in this book is spot on. This is just one of many clever lines that I laughed out loud while reading and thought, “That sounds like something I would say!”. Green is known for having a pretty good handle on clever & accurate young people verbiage.

Overall:
Despite this being a “Young Adult” novel, I could definitely relate to the complex themes presented. They reflect what most of us have been through, life & death, falling in & out of love, growing up, friendship, our general connection with others, & how we tie it all together to make a full life.
Random side note, I was frustrated by the discrepancies between Book Margo & Film Margo’s physical description – which I will admit might be a bit unfair especially because I haven’t even seen the film. Book Margo is described as curvy, her friends make comments on it, it’s part of her insecurities. Film Margo is played by Model Cara Delevingne who according to the internet is 5’8 & a size 2. She’s not someone I can see having trouble squeezing into her friends jeans, as Book Margo does. I know that has nothing to do with the book, but it annoyed me as soon as I read her description because Hollywood had the opportunity to use a curvy actress, & didn’t take it. It’s also frustrating because as I mentioned, her size is part of her insecurities, it’s part of her character. I’m not sure how they would have included that in the film.

Rating: B+
While I didn’t enjoy one of the main characters, overall, I enjoyed this book. Green’s style of writing is smart/on point & helped me identify with the characters. I’m not sure this book will be everyone’s cup of tea as it is about high school kids getting into shenanigans, but if you can suspend yourself from your “serious adult business”, you just might enjoy it.

Have you read “Paper Towns” or any other John Green novels? If so, what are your thoughts? Which one is your favorite? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club read will be April 3rd & the book is, “The Little Giant of Aberdeen County” by Tiffany Baker.

Sunday Book Club! “ROOM” by Emma Donoghue

Hi everyone!
As mentioned in last Sunday Book Club’s post I’m going to be discussing “ROOM” by Emma Donoghue this week. Did you finish it by today or did you need more time? I’m generally a fast reader, so I can put more time between Sunday Book Club posts if more time is needed, or, if you’re not reading along & you don’t care when they get posted – please let me know in the Comments below!
Please hit that FOLLOW button to get email updates when I create new posts 🙂

Initial Thoughts:
I heard about this book through one of my college roommates when it first came out a few years ago. At the time I wasn’t too intrigued because it sounded super sad & possibly graphic. Now, however, the book has been made into a film that’s getting a huge amount of positive attention in the Entertainment industry. The film was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role (Brie Larson – winner!), Directing, Adapted Screenplay. I was curious to read the source material before I potentially watch the movie. Also, along the way I have added other books by Emma Donoghue to my book list, so I’m more interested to read this novel that first introduced me to her name. As I said, I was a little scared to read this due to the troubling plot…which you’ll read below!

Plot:
WARNING: Light spoilers. If you know the basic plot of the story, you can figure out the path it’s going to take, so I’m just going to describe the basics. However, I’ll try not to be too specific so you can still be surprised by the twists & turns.
“ROOM” is the story of Ma & Jack, told from 5 year old Jack’s point of view. Ma is a young woman who was kidnapped & held hostage by a man known as Old Nick. She becomes pregnant with Jack while being held hostage, so all Jack has ever known is the one room they are contained in. He knows nothing of the outside world or the people that exist beyond Ma & Old Nick. The book follows their life including how Ma shields Jack from the real reason they’re in “Room”, among other things.

Characters:
– Ma: Ma is extremely tough & dedicated to giving Jack the best life possible despite their crazy circumstances. She often has to choose between Jack & herself & has to sacrifice to keep him protected from the reality of the situation, I can’t imagine being in her shoes. There are some scenes at the end of the book that do a wonderful job of showcasing her character, especially who she was before the kidnapping & her commitment to Jack. It’s hard to get into too much detail without giving away the plot.
– Jack: I think overall Jack’s character is supposed to represent a fear of moving on, something we carry with us even as adults. He never quite understands that Room is a bad place. It’s all he knows & Ma did a great job protecting him, so he never fully agrees with her that Outside would be better. I don’t think Donoghue meant for this story to be metaphorical, I think she was just trying to tell a story of a fierce love between a mother & son in unimaginable circumstances. However, I like the idea of Jack representing a fear of moving on because I think more people can identify with that. It’s a little hard to connect to someone who’s 20 years younger than me, different gender, obviously different upbringing, etc – but it’s easy to connect with him when I think about how scared he must be to figure out there’s a big world beyond the only front door he’s ever seen. At its most basic, its similar to leaving home for the first time, ending a bad relationship, starting a new adventure etc.

Quotes:
– Pg 6: “Oh, I forgetted to have some when I woke up.
That’s OK. Maybe we could skip it once in a while, now you’re five?
No way Jose. So she lies down on the white of Duvet and me too and I have lots.”
Jack/Ma/Jack
When I first read this passage I had NO idea what was going on. I know nothing about kids or the way they talk, so I wasn’t sure if I was missing something, or if this is how Donoghue wrote the dialogue. After a bit more reading – that’s how Jack was written. This passage refers to breast feeding, which Jack still does at 5 years old due to the strange conditions of his living situation & Ma’s reluctant willingness. Also, Jack refers to everything in “Room” like it’s a person…Duvet, Bed, etc are names, not just objects.

Overall:
Donoghue did an amazing job of pacing this novel so you feel like you’re in that room with Ma & Jack. Every day/page it’s basically the same thing, a little monotonous & slow, but mixed with anxiety because you never know what might happen. At a certain point there’s only a couple options for the ending so you’re just waiting for it to go down & see HOW exactly it happens. After the excitement, the ending is kind of lackluster, but I think that’s a reflection of what you could expect from the situation – this sounds vague but I don’t want to give too much away. Reading from the point of view of a 5 year old was an interesting writing technique on Donoghue’s part because it gives a very horrific & graphic topic a bit of innocence. Obviously Jack is the product of rape & Old Nick keeps Ma to continue raping her. However, the reader is never really subjected to those intense scenes because Jack isn’t, we only experience what Jack experiences. When Old Nick comes to “visit” Ma, Jack is usually asleep or Ma has told him to hide. We hear about the “bed creaking”, but that’s about as graphic as it gets, which is a welcome relief. I feel like this book could be a different experience for every reader because we can only know as much as Jack knows, yet at the same time, we can make inferences based on context clues & everyone can interpret those differently.

Rating: B+
As dark & ugly as the topic of this book is, I did enjoy it. However, it’s not something I feel a great desire to read again. I’m not even sure I would recommend it, except that the writing was really well done & that’s worth something to me. As mentioned before you kind of have an idea of how things are going to end which might be frustrating for some.

Have you read “ROOM”? If so, what did you think? Have you read/do you recommend any of Donoghue’s other books? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!
Again, please let me know in the Comment section below if you would prefer that I only cover one book a month so you have time to read along or if you’re not reading along & want me to review books at my own pace.

The next Sunday Book Club will be March 20th & will cover “Paper Towns” by John Green.