Room is a deeply emotional, intense masterpiece by Emma Donoghue. Once I picked up this book, I truly could not stop reading it. The book has a perfect balance of moving scenes, suspense, and beautiful, human moments. Donoghue takes a tragic, inhumane circumstance and infuses it with emotion and humanity.
The true shining element of this piece is the point of view. The book is about a woman who is captured and held hostage for years. While in captivity in a "room" cut off from the world, she is raped and gives birth. The story picks up five years later. Her son Jack has never been in the outside world. For him, the entire world is "room." The book is told from Jack's point of view. This helps make the book highly emotional while also keeping it strangely objective; we only see the situation from a five-year-old's eyes, so we are left in the dark about many of the situations. The reader must determine what is happening by deciphering Jack's point of view. This creates an element of suspense.
This book has a style and tone very similar to that in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. In many ways, Jack and his mother are living in a post-apocalyptic world, at least from their point of view; they are the only survivors in their piece of the world, and they are forced into survival mode. Like The Road, this book focuses on the bond between a parent and child. Despite the horrific situation Jack and his mother are in, there are moments of sheer beauty. The bond between them is magnificent. We see a mother who does her very best with what she has to give her son the best life possible. I truly admired Jack's mother for her creativity and ability to brighten Jack's life in the midst of gloom.
I also liked the realistic portrayal of the situation. Donoghue does not give the characters a rosy ending or road to recovery. She portrays the difficulty in their situations, especially for the mom. I liked the raw emotion portrayed. I really felt like I was forced to put myself in the characters' shoes and imagine what I would be feeling. Donoghue stirs deep emotion within the reader and attachment.
This book is a terrifying, haunting book that makes the reader ask: what if this happened to me? It delves into tough questions about nature vs. nurture, the human spirit, and survival. Most of all, though, it shows that nothing in the world is as important as the love between a parent and child. This love can help us survive even the most dismal, terrifying situations.
Donoghue proves she is a master of words and storytelling with this work. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see life, relationships, and the battle between good and evil in a new way.
“I hate reading.”
“Why do you read so much?”
“Stop being a nerd and put the book down.”
“Ew, I would rather go out than read.”
As an English teacher and booknerd, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard variations of the above phrases. Students, friends, co-workers, and even strangers have criticized my hobby and passion.
It’s no secret that reading gets a bad name in our society. “Reader” has erroneously become synonymous with dork, anti-social, boring, and dull. Society imagines a life on loneliness, cats, and nerdy glasses. While some of these ideas may be slightly (or mostly) true, I am more than fine with the label of booknerd.
I’m proud to be one.
As an English teacher, my life is cluttered with books . . . classics, teen reads, romance, and everything in between. There are shelves overflowing both at school and at home. I am often seen with one or two books in hand. At home, I read at least one book a week just for fun.
Do I get criticized for it?
Do I care?
Not at all.
Being a booknerd is something I take pride in. Why?
1. Booknerds get to explore the world
I’ve seen the Civil War in Sierra Leone from the eyes of a child soldier. I’ve traveled to Auschwitz in a train car. I’ve fought in an arena for my life. I’ve been a woman of all ages, seen parts of the world I’ve never been to.
Books give us more than just a chance to pretend and imagine. They allow us to see life’s biggest questions from another point of view. Because of books, I think I’ve become more empathetic to those around me. I’ve been able to see life from so many places.
2. Booknerds are Never Lonely
I’ll admit it: I’m an anti-social introvert. I’m not the life of the party or the girl at the center of the crowd. I like to blend in. I like to spend time on my couch with Henry rather than go out.
A part of this comes from the fact that society is exhausting. There is constant judgement to deal with and the constant need to say the right thing.
Books give us the power to interact with others. . . sort of. I can get to know the characters in my books without the pressures you find in a real life interaction. Do books replace social interaction?
However, they can help us find ourselves in a way we can’t always do because of social pressures.
3. Booknerds have killer vocabulary skills.
Experts note that reading for pleasure as a child impacts your vocabulary later in life. However, it's never too late to jump in and expand your words! Check out this article about how reading, especially early in life, can impact your vocabulary.
4. Booknerds can count leggings as real clothes.
Who needs fancy, uncomfortable clothes or high heels? My night only requires leggings and slippers. My current obsession is Lularoe. Give me those leggings over a fancy going out outfit any day.
Reading seems like a lonely hobby, right? In truth, I've spent many nights alone buried in a book.
The thing is, though, I'm not alone.
Reading connects us to the world around us, to worlds beyond us, and to worlds within us. It helps us realize our journey as a human and that we aren't alone on that journey. Our thoughts and deepest secrets are the same as those around us. Sometimes we can only find this truth in a book.
As William Nicholson says, “We read to know we’re not alone.”
How about you? Are you proud to be a booknerd? Comment with reasons why being a booknerd rocks! Show some booknerd pride!
Latest Release in Chick Lit by Lindsay Detwiler
Then Comes Love is now available for pre-order! Grab your copy for your Nook, Kindle, or e reader today for only $1.99!
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B01CN52G24
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01CN52G24
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01CN52G24
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01CN52G24
Three generations of women,
Three second loves,
All with a dose of chaos mixed in.
Sometimes in life, changes can be good…
After losing her husband, her five cats, and her home, Charlotte Noel hates feeling dependent. As Charlotte tries to find her identity in this new stage of life, she comes to realize that drama never ends, dance aerobics can be a war zone, and love is always a possibility.
You never know when a midlife crisis is going to strike…
Charlotte’s daughter, Annie, is going through struggles of her own. Recently divorced, she is feeling frumpy and worn-out. Run ragged, Annie mourns her youth and wonders where her life is headed, all while hoping she can help her daughter Amelia get it together.
Settling down can be overrated, especially when you’re falling for a rock star look-alike…
Amelia is the wild child of the family. Working three jobs, because she just hasn’t figured out what she wants in life, she realizes happiness isn’t always settling down with a steady, dependable man; sometimes it’s about following your true passion and living on the edge.
No matter what age you are, life and love can be crazy…
Writers write about the places and emotions they know best.
For me, the storyline in Then Comes Love came largely from my observations and interactions at my grandfather’s apartment complex.
My grandfather moved to my hometown a few years ago. He’d spent his entire adult life in a house in Scottsdale. It was where he lived with my grandmother for their fifty plus years of marriage. He raised his children there, worked there, retired there.
Now he lives close to our family in an apartment complex for those 55 and older. It’s a wonderful community of people in this unique stage of life, battling with holding onto the past while also trying to figure out what the future might hold. In many ways, these living centers have their own unique social systems that don’t just involve those living there; the families and loved ones of the residents often are pulled into an interesting social climate as well.
Thus, the idea to set this book around the setting of an assisted living center came to me. I thought about the struggles residents face, giving up their homes and everything they’ve ever known to start a new life. I thought about the identity crisis I’ve heard many talk about at this stage in their lives.
And I thought about love.
I’ve seen romances blossom in the halls of my grandfather’s apartment complex. Women and men who’ve lost their spouses often find their hearts opened again thanks to relationships with those around them. Love doesn’t just shut off at a certain age. I’ve heard some residents talk about how they know more about love now than in their younger years.
I also wanted to capture the difficulties faced by the families of the residents in these places. It isn’t easy being a caregiver…I’ve seen how my mom struggles to balance her own life with the needs of my grandfather on a weekly basis. Annie’s struggles are the struggles of so many with aging parents, and it isn’t an easy situation to be in, physically or emotionally.
Finally, I wanted to capture the humor that is often a part of homes for the aging. I can tell you there aren’t any Catherines in my grandfather’s apartment building, at least to my knowledge. But there are Catherine-like comments over trivial matters. There are interesting situations and hilarious observations. There are friendships and frenemies, new romances and interesting events. If you’ve ever been to an assisted living center, a retirement complex, or a nursing home, you know that things are truly never dull. I wanted this energy to be a driving force in the setting of my novel.
Then Comes Love is a novel that exposes feelings and struggles I think many will be able to relate to. Aging, whether it is happening to us or a loved one, is something that forces change for us all, change that can sometimes be difficult to accept. Charlotte, Annie, and Amelia, however, show us that sometimes humor, friendship, and family love can make the change at least bearable if not welcome.
Then Comes Love releases March 18th with Hot Tree Publishing.
Chad and I are twenty-eight-year-olds who’ve been married for four years, but we’ve been together way longer. We met when we were twelve; we sat across from each other at the table in art class. We’ve been together basically ever since. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of laughs, tears, and times we wanted to give up. We’re still together though, and still happy. We’ve learned that our society’s ideal that monogamy isn’t possible and marriages aren’t forever just isn’t true. Marriage is hard, it’s frustrating, but it can last. In this new segment, I’ll share some real-life tips about what we’ve learned along the way.
Am I right in saying the days of the 1950’s housewife smiling as she scrubs the toilet and cooks dinner are gone?
Because I know for me, those days were never here.
Some women enjoy cleaning (I’m sorry if you’re one of them…but I just don’t understand. At all :)). To each her own, I suppose.
But for me… I’d rather listen to Elmo sing opera for nineteen hours or eat my own cooking (more on that later) than clean anything.
Perhaps this could be attributed to my schedule. I work full-time and am working on my Master’s Degree and write books. I know many of us modern women are struggling with hectic schedules even harder than mine. Some of us have demanding jobs working more than forty hours a week. Some of us work multiple jobs. Some of us work part-time and balance family life or caretaking. Some of us are stay-at-home moms who, thus, work 24/7 on more tasks than I can imagine. We are all called to a different schedule filled with struggles and impossible balancing acts.
Thus, for me, like many, cleaning takes the bottom rung on the priority chart.
Not that I don’t appreciate a clean house. I, like many, enjoy the fresh scent of a spic and span house. I like when everything is in its place and my home looks presentable.
But the reality?
Don’t come to my house on Thursdays.
Sunday is cleaning day. Sunday, everything looks somewhat presentable.
As the days trudge on and the stress of the week plods through my life, though, suddenly cleanliness is forgotten. Books are tossed on the couch instead of the shelf. A faint rotten milk smell permeates the kitchen…either from the piling dishes or the trash can that I’ve been stomping down so I don’t have to take it out. Bob, our sixteen-pound black cat, decides to rip out his hair and leave a trail through the house. Clothes clutter the bedroom floor, and the counter is undetectable under the heaps of mail and other random objects.
By the weekend, the need to clean is undeniable.
And so is the likelihood of a fight with the husband.
I would say our worst, verging on divorce fights have been about chores. By the weekend, there are usually screaming fights over who left cereal in the sink, who should run the vacuum, and why he is pretending he can’t see the soap scum in the shower.
Let’s rewind to the early days of marriage. As in the first week.
Still floating on the feelings from the cake and Jello shots, our first week of splitting chores was angelic. He did dishes just because. I scrubbed the floor with the 1950’s housewife smile even though it wasn’t even dirty. Everything was in its place…mostly because we barely had anything to put into a place. We were full of “don’t worry, honey, I’ll get it,” or “thanks so much, dear, for doing that load of laundry.”
Marriage was bliss.
Now let’s look at recent days and exchanges.
There’ve been swear word exchanges because he is apparently blind to the mud on the kitchen floor…or doesn’t know where to find the mop. He has been angry on a daily basis over my bad habit of leaving cereal in my bowl in the sink. We’ve fought over how to split up the chores, over who does more work around the house, and over how chores should be done. I’ve felt enraged because it seems like all of the indoor work falls on my shoulders because “clearly women love cleaning” and “women are better programmed for cleaning” (cue sarcastic/sadistic laughs). He’s been angry because he feels like I don’t appreciate what he tries to do.
There have been screams, there have been cleaning strikes, there have been threats to leave. There have been feminist-style rants and accusations of sexism. There have been unkind words and white glove inspections and invisible lines drawn in the house.
Some weeks, the messiest thing in the house isn’t the kitchen sink or the shower; it’s our marriage because of our chore fights.
Finding Chore Compromise
Over the years, we’ve tried many things to fix the problem.
1. Chore charts
We actually pulled a kindergarten style chore chart out. We each got stamps for the chores we completed. At the end of the month, the person with the most got extra spending money.
The verdict: Fail
We both ended up cheating. As in, “I wiped the counter with a Clorox Wipe? Stamp for cleaning kitchen.” Then we fought over the chore chart. If memory serves me, there was a violent shredding of the chart by me over some unfair stamps. Epic fail.
2. The “Sexist” Solution
We went back to our 1950’s style solution for a while. Chad would do all of the outside work, and I would do all of the inside work.
The Verdict: Angry, angry fights
After about a week of this, I became enraged. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I love doing all of the indoor chores. Plus, I realized that while he only had to cut grass once a week, I was struggling to keep up with chores every single day. Cue jealousy, rage, and accusations of sexism…even though the whole thing was my idea. Oops.
Okay, this is what we have now. Chad does grass and snow removal. He also does dishes because I hate doing dishes. I do laundry, which weighs out with dishes because Chad hates doing laundry. Then, I do the vacuuming, dusting, floor scrubbing, animal care, and clean one of the bathrooms. Chad cleans the upstairs bathroom and will vacuum one time during the week. We’ve tried to split it as equally as we can.
The Verdict: Less screaming fights, but still the occasional tiff
I mean, Chad seems to think the upstairs bathroom needs cleaned like once a month and that is good (wrong, as I must remind him every week). He also vacuums like a NASCAR driver, which is annoying. Sometimes I still feel like I’m doing more work in the house, especially because I typically plan our meals. His standards for clean are a bit different than mine. And he still gets pissed when I leave cereal in the sink. Or coffee in my cup. Or when I fold his socks inside out. Yeah, we still have our differences.
But we’re getting better. When he knows I’ve had a terrible week, he’ll step up his game and pitch in more. When he works overtime, I’ll do the dishes just because. We’ve spent less time fighting and more time compromising. We’ve also let go of the notion that it is possible to maintain a Home and Garden type house while working like we do and having five cats and Henry. It’s just not real.
What we’ve learned: there will always be chore fights, especially in the modern era. There still seems to be this stigma that women adore housekeeping, which is definitely not the case for all of us. I think it’s just about communicating, trying to find a system you can both live with, and realizing it will never be perfect.
Oh, and never having company over on Thursdays.
So if you need something on a Thursday, please call first. At least an hour ahead. And plan on Chad and I being angry at each other because we have to clean in a hurry :)
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