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Kim Tomsic

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Room: A Novel vs. the 1998 Best Foreign Film (directed by Benigni)

Book Review
Room:  A Novel by Emma Donoghue 

Where to buy in Colorado:
Boulder Book Store  1107 Pearl
Tatter Cover   on Colfax, Highland Ranch, or Lodo in Denver

There's been a pile of press surrounding Emma Donoghue's book ROOM.  It's certainly a "ripped from the headlines" type of tale, reminding me of the California tragedy when a girl was held hostage in a couple's backyard shack for several years.

ROOM is told from the POV of Jack, a five-year-old boy who was born the second year of his ma's seven year captivity. Jack has never seen anything beyond the eleven-by-eleven room where they are held, but he is none too bothered by the the living situation; it's all he knows and his mother has gently framed the circumstances. 

Somehow, the sweet way ROOM is told (and Jack's innocent understanding) reminds me of one of my favorite movies:  Life is Beautiful by director Roberto Benigni.  This 1998 Academy Award winning foreign film depicts an Italian Jewish father who is forced with his son into a German concentration camp.  The son is young and does not speak German, so instead of relaying the terrifying situation accurately, the father purposefully mis-translates the German guards' scary threats. He tells his son they are on an adventure and everything is a games.  He invents inaccurate and hilarious translations to replace the vile things that are truly said.  Although the subject matter is dark and bleak, I found myself laughing throughout the film.  ROOM is handled in a similar manner.

ROOM offers much to enjoy.  There is a certain sweetness to the book as well as fantastic moments of tension and excitement.

ROOM was released September 13, 2010 by Little Brown and Company.  It is available hardback with a list price of $24.99.

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