Rooms by Lauren Oliver



By Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Ecco
ISBN13: 9780062223197
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary/Paranormal


A tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.


This was my first buddy read in quite a few years. I am horrible with them typically. My previous experience was with a friend who happened to decide we should read Pillars of the Earth (read it if you have not). That was the first mistake. It is daunting and tedious at times. Yes, I am still telling you to read it, just not with a buddy. It turns out that our reading paces were two different modes. It was a bad episode of the Tortoise and the Hare and no real discussion was gained. In fact, it resulted in a lot of frustration. So I swore of “buddy” reads.

Then the funniest thing occurred. Debby @alwaysbooking and I began kicking that term around again. Then I received this beautiful Christmas card and a lovely book Rooms by Lauren Oliver in my mail from none other than, you guessed it, Debby! Suddenly I was all for it. I not only wanted to buddy read, I was excited to do so. And that is what we did. Check out Debby’s wonderful review of her own experience here!

Okay, so let me just confess before I go any further, I knew nothing of this book before Debby sent it to me. But as soon as I read the blurb and was informed by several bloggers that it was amazing, it was go time. And it did not disappoint. But explaining exactly what I experienced with Rooms is going to be a challenge. It was not what I was expecting, but I am not sure my own expectations were very clear.

First of all, this book is one big heaping pile of mess. I do not mean that in the sense that the story is improperly executed, because if anything, this is probably where Rooms shines the most for me. The execution is flawless! What I am telling you, is that this is a story surrounding several very dysfunctional and broken lives. The cast of characters are seriously suffering issues. There are no “feel good” moments to be had. Seek those out in another title. These pages are teeming with memories. Memories that are elegantly presented in a way that weaves an eerily magical and fantastic tale of lives entwined and the home they have built and become attached to.

“Memory is as thick as mud. It rises up, it overwhelms. It sucks you down and freezes you where you stand. Thrash and kick and gnash your teeth. There’s no escaping it.”
― Lauren Oliver, Rooms

The characters presented to us range from previous occupants Alice and Sandra who now take up residence within the walls of the home in Coral River and the most recent owner’s family that has come to tend to affairs after his passing. We have a bitter ex-wife Caroline, a lonely and desperate daughter and single mother Minna, and a socially withdrawn and depressed teenage son Trenton. Finding the ability to love this family is no easy task, as they arrive with some pretty intense baggage. Caroline is determined to drown her feelings in vodka, while Minna fills the void inside her with vanity and promiscuity. Trenton is on the verge of suicide and quickly learns he is not the only lost soul within the home. Seriously, they are a train wreck. It was their sorrow though that continually drew me to each of them. Through all of the chaos that is their lives, there is pain that can be seen. On that level I found my ability to connect and appreciate.

Narration is provided as courtesy of the two deceased residents, Alice and Sandra. They occupy every space of the home and seem to have actually become a large part of the home over the years. Unable to escape the walls within or one another, the events  that unfold as Richard Walker’s family prepares for his memorial service are seen through their eyes. There are an unrelenting presence.

“I can’t stop thinking about what Caroline said to Minna about death. It isn’t an infection, she said. She might be right. Then again, we’ve nested in the walls like bacteria. We’ve taken over the house, its insulation and its plumbing – we’ve made it our own. Or maybe it’s life that’s the infection: a feverish dream, a hallucination of feelings. Death is purification, a cleaning, a cure.”
― Lauren Oliver, Rooms

But this is not your average ghost story. This is a story about life, the choices we make, our abilities to cope and eventually let go. Sometimes it is not always a ghosts that haunts us, but our own past and regrets.

Broken into 11 parts (each centered upon a room of the house) we are taken on a journey that dives deep into human relationships, the memories that are built and the objects that those memories can become attached to. The author presents a raw confrontation of life in the most hauntingly and beautiful manner. The exquisite and almost poetic writing flawlessly creates a melancholic tale that resonates long after the final page. Rooms is now shelved as a favorite for me.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Purchase Rooms: A Novel

39 thoughts on “Rooms by Lauren Oliver

  1. OMG I AM SCREAMING OF HAPPINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM SO HAPPY THAT ITS ON YOUR FAVES!! This one is just a haunting story that has imprinted on my soul forever. Amazing review! I love how this isn’t your happy story but it’s touching and astounding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ohhh, my last buddy read went pretty bad as well. Friend finished the book before I could even get through half of it. Glad you were able to embark on another buddy read though, the idea itself is always so… enthralling! 😀 Absolutely fantastic review by the way! This really sounds like an amazing book. I like the idea behind it, as well as the fact that its not rainbow and sunshines among the cast. Very intriguing.

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard so many great things about this book. I really need to get my hands on it and read it sometime next year. I know I’ve adored several of the author’s other books and that I love her writing but this one definitely seems to stand out more. It’s interesting how it’s set in two parts and that they focus on different rooms in the house. Then again now that seems obvious considering the name of the book 😂. Great review, Danielle! 😊♥

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome!! 💕
        I tab way too much when it comes to reading physical books so if you were tabbing crazy I have a feeling I’ll want to read it as an ebook just so I can highlight as much as I want 😂. That’s good to hear though! I’m definitely putting it on my list for next year. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Stellar review as always. Seriously. It’s like you’re telling me a story. I follow you from start to end. This story seems interesting. Crushingly depressing, but interesting. Thanks for sharing, great stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like a book with some deeper meaning, so it’s nice that she uses those ghosts to get the message across that it’s the past that haunts us mostly. Nice review and lovely to hear about buddy reading. Not sure it’s for me though, it’s hard enough to have my own agenda for reading, if I have to read when someone else is reading it starts getting complicated.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! Great review and I am totally interested in this book… I think it sounds kind of like “The Language of Dying” type of reading experience with the characters being a mess… there’s just something about ‘drama’ that pulls like a magnet…

    PS! Love the fresh look on the blog! 🙂 It’s very classy! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Buddy reads are great … when you find the right buddy and the right book! 🙂
    Fantastic review of what sounds like a brilliant and haunting story! I love your choice of quotes. The idea of a narrative by previous owners witnessing life inside their walls is both creepy and great. The feeling of drama and life (or is it death?) lessons makes me want to give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Haha, I’m terrible at buddy reads too. I guess I’m kind of a lone wolf when it comes to read. 😉 I just love how Lauren Oliver writes but had been seeing some mediocre reviews about Rooms. Glad to see that you liked it. I might have to give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I had forgotten about this book. I don’t know if it was on Netgalley, or Edelweiss, but I didn’t get approved (probably Netgalley then because they hate me, haha), but after reading the summary I was dying to have it. I think I entered every giveaway in the universe to win it. I am happy you have brought it to my attention again. I will be looking for it to be an ebook special now. As always, fab review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gosh, I have missed so much in my absence! Great review, Danielle! I want to read more by this author, so maybe I’ll start with this one!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish I have been on vacation! But that’s not the case, unfortunately. Just super busy with family and other stuffs. But I’m back now, thank goodness! And hoping to get caught up on blog hopping, reviews and posts, and reading!! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. 😘

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I just added this one to my Kindle, although I may have to wait a bit as I’m currently reading another book about death, and going into the light, and regrets and all that. Might be a bit too much one right after the other. One of my book clubs in my classroom is currently reading one of Oliver’s children’s book and loving it, so it seems like a good one for me to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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