Excerpt from Room by Emma Donoghue, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Novel

by Emma Donoghue

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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 336 pages
    May 2011, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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When she spits the second time it's my go with Toothbrush, I scrub each my teeth all the way around. Ma's spit in Sink doesn't look a bit like me, mine doesn't either. I wash them away and make a vampire smile.

"Argh." Ma covers her eyes. "Your teeth are so clean, they're dazzling me."

Her ones are pretty rotted because she forgetted to brush them, she's sorry and she doesn't forget anymore but they're still rotted.

I flat the chairs and put them beside Door against Clothes Horse. He always grumbles and says there's no room but there's plenty if he stands up really straight. I can fold up flat too but not quite as flat because of my muscles, from being alive. Door's made of shiny magic metal, he goes beep beep after nine when I'm meant to be switched off in Wardrobe.

God's yellow face isn't coming in today, Ma says he's having trouble squeezing through the snow.

"What snow?"

"See," she says, pointing up.

There's a little bit of light at Skylight's top, the rest of her is all dark. TV snow's white but the real isn't, that's weird. "Why it doesn't fall on us?"

"Because it's on the outside."

"In Outer Space? I wish it was inside so I can play with it."

"Ah, but then it would melt, because it's nice and warm in here." She starts humming, I guess right away it's "Let It Snow." I sing the second verse. Then I do "Winter Wonderland" and Ma joins in higher. We have thousands of things to do every morning, like give Plant a cup of water in Sink for no spilling, then put her back on her saucer on Dresser. Plant used to live on Table but God's face burned a leaf of her off. She has nine left, they're the wide of my hand with furriness all over, like Ma says dogs are. But dogs are only TV. I don't like nine. I find a tiny leaf coming, I've seen her two times, that counts as ten.

Spider's real. I look for her now but there's only a web between Table's leg and her flat. Table balances good, that's pretty tricky, when I go on one leg I can do it for ages but then I always fall over. I don't tell Ma about Spider. She brushes webs away, she says they're dirty but they look like extra-thin silver to me. Ma likes the animals that run around eating each other on the wildlife planet, but not real ones. When I was four I was watching ants walking up Stove and she ran and splatted them all so they wouldn't eat our food. One minute they were alive and the next minute they were dirt. I cried so my eyes nearly melted off. Also another time there was a thing in the night nnnnng nnnnng nnnnng biting me and Ma banged him against Door Wall below Shelf, he was a mosquito. The mark is still there on the cork even though she scrubbed, it was my blood the mosquito was stealing, like a teeny vampire. That's the only time my blood ever came out of me.

Ma takes her pill from the silver pack that has twenty-eight little spaceships and I take a vitamin from the bottle with the boy doing a handstand and she takes one from the big bottle with a picture of a woman doing Tennis. Vitamins are medicine for not getting sick and going back to Heaven yet. I never want to go, I don't like dying but Ma says it might be OK when we're a hundred and tired of playing. Also she takes a killer. Sometimes she takes two, never more than two, because some things are good for us but too much is suddenly bad.

"Is it Bad Tooth?" I ask. He's on the top near the back of her mouth, he's the worst.

Ma nods.

"Why you don't take two killers all the bits of every day?"

She makes a face. "Then I'd be hooked."

"What's —?"

"Like stuck on a hook, because I'd need them all the time. Actually I might need more and more."

"What's wrong with needing?"

"It's hard to explain."

Ma knows everything except the things she doesn't remember right, or sometimes she says I'm too young for her to explain a thing.

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Excerpted from Room by Emma Donoghue. Copyright © 2010 by Emma Donoghue. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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