Tough Subject Handled Well, August 16, 2011
By Linda L. Reid "author of Touch of Magenta"
I was compelled to keep reading. Sometimes my eyes could not take in the words fast enough to satisfy the excitment I was feeling. This is a very tough subject captured and presented in a way that can be swallowed, digested, and understood at its most base level. I liked the matter of fact way it was presented. The love and hope filtered through to the amazing end. Linda Loveland Reid, author of Touch of Magenta.
THE ROOM, May 4, 2011
By Rebecca G. Bartolo
On the recommendation of my wife, I recently read "The Room."
I throughly enjoyed it. I felt that the characters were well developed and showed both their human flaws and capacity to grow. I particularly loved how the author used the main character, Harry, to take me on a journey of the past, present, and future.
This book is about choices in life and where they lead us. The author, Ray Melnick, mixes contemporary scientific theories, with raw, human, emotions. I particularly loved the ending of the story. After reading this book, I found myself thinking about my own journey through life.
Well done, Mr Melnick.
Michael S. Bartolo
An inspirational look into the lives of a family struggling to manage the complexities of life, July 30, 2009
by Sassy Brit "alternative-read.com (UK)
As an atheist and a man who believes when we're born we are given only existence, Harry Ladd is forced to look back on his life when his mother's room becomes a place where the past and the present merge in what some may believe to be a supernatural event -- not Harry, though; he takes the logical, scientific approach that we are the controllers of our own destiny and everything we do, the decisions we make, shape our future, nothing else.
With two daughters, Kaela and Lainey, an ex-wife, and a possible new girlfriend Lacey on the horizon, we follow Harry as he debates and philosophises the meaning of his life, deals with his dying mother and struggles to cope with the fact that his brother, Malcolm, no longer wants to be associated with him. Malcolm still blames Harry and their mother for not protecting them from their abusive father when they were younger. On one hand Harry wants to contact his brother now that their mother is dying, but he doesn't know if he is doing the right thing, or whether there is any point. Malcolm never attended their father's funeral, and has shown no interest in either Harry or their mother since. On the other hand, Harry is battling against his guilt of not giving Malcolm the choice to make amends. Will Harry decide to clear his conscience and contact his brother? If he does, how on earth will Malcolm react?
Ray Melnik supplies an inspirational look into the lives of a family struggling to manage the complexities of life while exploring the laws of physics through Harry's search for answers regarding "the unexplained" happenings in his mother's room. I believe the strength of this book lies in how much we care about Harry's attempt to reconcile with his brother, and Harry's realisation of what his mother says when he gets the chance to go back in time and hear what she was also going through when their abusive father was at his worst; this time with an adult's perspective. In addition there is also an underlying message that we determine the course of our future through our own actions, which makes The Room one to get you thinking long after the book has been shut.
A smart read, July 16, 2009
by Jennie Fantasia Kilgallen (Rockville Centre, New York)
I was looking for something a little more interesting and relevant to read than the usual fiction and I found it in The Room. What a different type of story!!
While reading The Room I was taken by the author's alternative view of the world, but also the empathic nature of his main character Harry and
his total unconditional love of his children. Of course, there is so much more to this book than just that. The Room delves into domestic violence, emotional abuse of one's children and an incredible event that changes the lives of everyone in the book.
Harry's kind and compassionate personality and belief in science as opposed to any religious belief is a refreshing alternative to the absolute blind faith of 90 percent of the world.
This story is beautifully written and by the end of the book you will love Harry, his children and the woman he falls in love with, Lainey. You'll be routing for him to find the happiness he deserves.
This story gives you hope that while life can be molded by certain choices you make in life, it's never too late to change your path.
A most excellent Room, May 29, 2009
by K. Davis (Silver Spring, MD United States)
As a girl I learned how to jump rope and swim backwards before I could do either forwards. So it is only appropriate that I read Ray Melnik's wonderful first novel The Room after first reading its sequel, To Your Own Self Be True. While I enjoyed the sequel, The Room is absolutely one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read.
Our protagonist is Harry Ladd, a 30-something devoted single father who is dealing with the recent demise of his marriage and the eminent death of his mother Rue. Since his divorce, Harry enjoys living in the small town of Washingtonville in Upstate New York, and has made many friends in the neighborhood. Even as he struggles with his mother's illness, he strikes up a relationship with a wonderful woman named Lacie, and their ensuing love story is beautiful without approaching treacly.
At the heart of the story, however, is Harry's interaction with his dying mother, who suffers from the delusion that she is living 24 years in the past. For some people that would be difficult enough, but compounding this is the fact that 24 years ago, Harry, his estranged brother Malcolm, and their mother Rue were still living a hellish existence, suffering the daily barrage of abuse by their violent father. Though Harry's father died some years ago, in Rue's mind, she had just been beaten days previously and she was dreading her husband's imminent return. Harry, therefore, finds himself in the awkward (to say the least) position of trying to comfort his mother in her last few days of life by convincing her that her husband wont be home for a few days and that her other son Malcolm will be home shortly. Like many abused women, Rue never left her husband, even though she knew he was irreparably damaging their children. While Harry stands by their mother in her time of need, his brother Malcolm has never forgiven her for not leaving their father, and refuses to have anything to do with either of them.
However, just when his mother draws her last few breaths of life and you think the story may be winding down, Harry experiences a life-changing phenomenon involving time and space that changes everything from the past and the future.
Harry being a scientist and existential atheist, hypothesizes that this phenomenon could be due to the M theory:
According to the string theory, all matter and all forces exist because of tiny vibrating one-dimensional strings. The vibrations of the pattern were what gave matter and the forces its properties. It was much like the different length of the strings of a piano and how it changes the frequencies, creating the different tones. All that exists might just be notes in an amazing cosmological symphony. In addition, when taken the next step into M theory, it opens up the possibility that our universe could be one membrane among an infinite number of others; infinite parallel universes existing side by side.
Lest this talk of quantum physics bore or confound you, let me assure you The Room will do neither.
Melnik's maiden novel is exceptional and it puts his sequel, To Your Own Self Be True in a different light and I'm going to re-read it with new understanding.
While The Room cannot be classified as a time travel novel, it reminds me of Replay by Ken Grimwood - a compliment of the highest order from this voracious bibliophile whose all time favorite fiction genre is time-travel.
I can't recommend The Room enough. Do yourself a favor and read it.
Novel Depicts Positive Existentialism and Imaginative Application of Scientific Theories, March 29, 2009
Tyler R. Tichelaar "Superior Book Promotions - Marquette Fiction" - author of "The Marquette Trilogy"(Marquette, MI USA)
"The Room" by Ray Melnik has a simple title and the storyline itself is relatively simple, but the treatment of its underlying scientific and philosophical ideas are tremendously original; their effortless placement within an otherwise ordinary story reflects the natural magnificence of the book that Melnik, in the introduction, refuses to refer to as science fiction because "science is not fiction. It is a reality of the most all-encompassing kind."
The novel's narrator, Harry Ladd, is recently divorced from his wife. He now lives in a small apartment in the town center where he has easy access to stores, the local pub, and several kind-hearted people to keep him company. Harry becomes good friends with the local pub owner's daughter, Lacey, and a romantic relationship develops between them, with Lacey being mature enough to understand that Harry is currently going through a difficult time because his mother is dying of cancer. Harry spends most of his time comforting his mother, playing along with her delusions, and struggling with the decision of whether to tell his estranged brother, Malcolm, that their mother will soon die.
As boys, Harry and Malcolm were close. As the older brother, Harry often looked out for Malcolm. Throughout the novel, Harry remembers their childhood and the bond they shared, a bond that ultimately was severed when Malcolm grew up and was able to escape from their parents' house. Harry's father was physically abusive to both their mother and the boys. Harry constantly remembers his father's violent behavior, and even more, how his mother and brother suffered while he tried to look after both of them. This abusive childhood has shaped who Harry is today--a caring man, an atheist and a believer in science. Harry has no patience for people who try to push their religion on him. In a telling scene from his childhood, Malcolm says to Harry, "Daniel's family believes in God. They say he watches over people. Do you think it's true?" Harry replies, "Not over us, Malcolm." Readers may not agree with Harry's religious viewpoints, but his reason for his atheistic beliefs is understandable, and throughout the novel, Harry asks legitimate questions about how God could exist when awful things happen, including his father's abusive behavior toward his family. At times, Harry's comments about religion and politics are a bit distracting and preachy, and some readers may take offense, but these moments develop Harry's character and the novel's direction.
At the novel's heart are the scenes between Harry and his delusional mother, who thinks he is only twelve; his mother is very concerned about his brother Malcolm, who is never home, so Harry continually makes up excuses that his brother is playing at a friend's house or participating in some activity. Truthfully, Malcolm refuses to have anything to do with Harry or their mother. He blames his mother for letting their father mistreat them, while Harry has come to sympathize with his mother, seeing her as a victim rather than someone to blame. As he talks to his mother as if it were twenty-some years in the past, Harry comes to realize how difficult their family situation was for her, and he realizes how much she wishes she had left their father so life would have been easier for her sons.
The novel's climax lies in his mother's wishing she had left her husband and in Harry trying to decide whether to tell Malcolm that their mother is about to die. Without giving away the ending, I will say the novel's resolution is imaginative and unexpected, but a rational and logical conclusion. A lesser writer would have provided a resolution where Harry suddenly experiences a conversion to Christianity, or Malcolm is reconciled to the family. Instead, the novel takes a creative and satisfying turn.
Ray Melnik includes an introduction to "The Room" that discusses the theories behind it. He refers to "The Room" as having an existential view, and on his web site, he acknowledges a debt to Sartre and Camus. These classic twentieth century existentialist writers typically depicted the universe as meaningless and without a God. While this view frees man to make his own life and decisions, many existentialist works were marked by a sense of despair. Melnik takes the genre a step further by blending scientific theory into the work. If "The Room" is existentialism, it is more post-existentialism, with a maturity based in science that provides potential hope for humanity. Melnik states that the novel's scientific theories were influenced by Leonard Susskind's "The Cosmic Landscape," Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe," writings by Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, and theories of alternate or parallel universes and "string theory." Readers need not be familiar with these theories to enjoy the novel (although they will probably want to investigate them later); Melnik effortlessly blends the theories into the novel so the conclusion is mature, well-constructed and the logical solution to the main character's problems.
A sequel to "The Room" titled "To Your Own Self Be True" will be published later in 2009. In this novel, set in 2021, Harry Ladd tells his daughter Kaela about the experience he had that changed their lives, and a convergence of events occurs that gives Kaela the opportunity to learn one of the greatest lessons of all. I look forward to following Ray Melnik's characters and theories further. For more information about Ray Melnik's novels, visit www.emergentnovels.com
-- Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., author of "The Marquette Trilogy"
A Tale of Expanding Universes, December 18, 2008
Mary Holmes Dague (Carlisle, PA USA)
The Room is a book for people who read to learn and ask questions, rather than be entertained. No flowery prose will do for this author who is skilled enough to write the experience of being inside some of New York State's most beautiful scenery with terse prose that almost recalls Camus. Yet, one feels these special places characters take us to are our experience as well. Melnik knows how to show action, character, setting with such mastery that I carry this book in my head much as I do Einstein's Dreams. Both works continue to invade the mind with serious questions whose answers sometimes change over time. This fictional work asks the reader to register the internal universe and the Great Universe with an open mind. Melnik weaves string theory to events, and this is a wonderful introduction to string theory if you think you wouldn't understand it. (You will; this is not science fiction.) Of course I recommend this book to anyone who has outgrown romance novels, and look for deep, yet not difficult books to read.
Finding yourself in The Room, September 16, 2008
Charlie Bogolawski "Cable guy" (Danbury, CT)
The Room is well written and very quickly has you living Harry's life. Lonely, lost and wishing for a better childhood Harry pulls you into his world and has you reflecting on the moments in your life that shaped your adulthood.
The silver lining to Harry's life are his two daughters and a sweetheart of a girl named Lacey. The author has you immersed deeply to the point you are wishing out loud that Harry's life gets better.
Excellent read and I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in a strong and somber character that is trying to do the right thing in life.
A room at the top, July 8, 2008
Harry Owen (Grahamstown, South Africa) (from amazon.co.uk)
If your taste in fiction goes beyond the quotidian, if you are turned on by a different kind of intelligent imagination or if you simply can't come to terms with the 'reasons' we are expected to swallow for why things happen in life, then try this book. Quirky, brave and prepared to challenge our assumptions both about fiction and about life, it will have you asking questions about yourself and your place in the universe that have nothing to do with religious orthodoxy. You won't find answers here but it's good to know that the possibilities surrounding existence are being considered so thoughtfully.
There is Room for many perspectives, January 22, 2008
L. Binnie (NYC)
Mr. Melnik has crafted a very likable book. As he gains experience and confidence he will learn to avoid the small but numerous digressions that serve mainly to knock the reader off stride.
As his protagonist is a man very similar to myself, I smiled knowingly at his observations on lifes common images that intrigue those who of us who mine them such as the folks who slow down immediatly when in sight of a police car.
We know that the author does not entertain magical thinking. But as one closes the book at its conclusion one senses that he very much wants to believe in something that can lift our lives and make the world a better place.
I share with the author a confidence that all the tools that we need to make ourselves and our world the place we wish it to be surround us in the natural world. If we allow ourselves to believe in the incredible power of what we can see and explain, this wisdom would quickly displace all of the worlds religions. This may seem like magical thinking in the end, and as the book affirms , its not such a bad thing afterall
The Room with a twist..., January 4, 2008
Crystal Adkins (Kentucky)
Harry Ladd and his brother Malcolm had a not so happy childhood. Their mother and each other were all the boys had that could constitute as happiness. With an abusive father, the Ladd family lived in fear not knowing what would happen from day to day, or what would be said that would be the final straw causing Mr. Ladd's temper to surface.
Harry was the caretaker, he watched over his brother and his mother as best he could. The only place that ever felt safe was their mother's bedroom, even if it meant hiding in the closet. But now some twenty four years later, the bedroom was not a haven of safety, it was laden with sadness. Rue Ladd had brain cancer; she had only a small amount of time left.
Malcolm wanted nothing to do with his brother Harry or even his own mother. But Harry was tired of lying to his mother about where Malcolm was. She was going into a state of delirium, believing she was reliving the time when Mr. Ladd hit her and she hurt her leg badly. Harry was only twelve years old back then. But now he was old enough to forgive all that happened in his childhood; he just couldn't see why Malcolm was still holding the grudge long after his father passed away.
Something strange was about to happen, stepping into the room the very last time Rue would be alive, time rewound itself. Harry saw a twelve year old face looking back at him in the mirror. Listening to his mother's confession, he knew she had to get things off of her chest before she could die peacefully. Only, what would happen when time shifts back?
Ray Melnik's, The Room is a story that you can not help but like. In the beginning it was a little slow for me; there was not much excitement until he met Lacie. She seemed to be the one to help Harry move on and accept life as it was going to be. Toward the middle, it started picking up and I really got into feeling the emotions portrayed by Mr. Melnik through his characters. The Room is a refreshing read, I am sure we will be hearing more from such a talented author in the future. 4 Hearts
A thought provoking story about an old past and a new future.November 19, 2007
Xavier House Reviews
The Room is the tale of a recently divorced man who is required to come to grips with the reality of his situation, and at the same time deal with the impending death of his mother. Growing up Harry and his brother Malcolm were the victims of horrible abuse from their father. Their only sanctuary they had as boys was the room where his mother presently lays dying.
Because his mother is delusional in her last days, Harry is forced to relive the memory of the hardest days of his childhood, the peak of his father's abuse toward the family. The abuse that the father dished out on the family aged Harry's mother and estranged the younger Malcolm from the family. Even though the abusive father died years ago, Malcolm is still so bitter he even refuses to stand at the side of his dying mother. While Harry is reliving the past memories with his mother a strange event occurs which will change his future, and his past, forever.
The Room is a rapid read, which thoroughly explores the inner reaches of Harry's character. The reader will become aware of Harry's beliefs as they pertain to science, family, politics, and religion. The Room has a remarkable twist at the end which challenges the reader to think about how they would react to such an event. In The Room reading the Prologue is essential to fully understand the impact of the ending twist. Although it is not billed as a work of science-fiction, fans of that genre may get the most enjoyment from this title.
The Room, November 10, 2007
Jennifer Gray (Columbus, OH)
The Room is a charming story about abuse, anger, sadness, compassion, acceptance, romance, and creating meaning in life. The main character, Harry, is a very likable guy who loves his family and genuinely cares for his friends and neighbors. He is an atheist and has no desire for religious faith or wishful thinking, only science and reason. The author does an excellent job of presenting a nontheistic worldview in a very positive light.
The majority of the story was very detailed and well developed, but the ending felt a little rushed. Harry was awfully quick to come to terms with the strange event that occurred in his mother's room. It would have been interesting to see him struggle with finding a scientific explanation for a seemingly supernatural event before finally understanding and accepting the event and moving on with the rest of his life.
Despite that one minor complaint, I thought this was a very enjoyable book, and I'd highly recommend it to both theists and nontheists alike.
Our lives and choices can change the world, September 2, 2007
D. Wilkin (Oregon)
I just finished the novel last week. Harry's an ordinary, albeit kind guy walking through his less than perfect life. He wishes he could fix everything wrong with the world, but does what he can with his tech skills for those in his small community in New York. Never does he suspect that one choice he fosters in his dying mother can alter his known universe.
Without giving away too much, the physics and how the author gradually worked in the window, the light, vibrations, and the mother being trapped at that critical period in the past all made the book's transition and the moment of change seem very natural. I was impressed with how facile he made the complexities of multiple dimensions, string and M-theory seem. The average reader, I don't think, will be intimidated by that one page of research Harry does to explain the membranes of the parallel universes touching.
The battling with the sanctimonious struck a personal chord with me and my past. That confrontation Harry has with Malcolm reminds me of too many who hide behind religion because they secretly feel bad and vulnerable and want some authority somewhere to say otherwise (i.e. you're good and I'll protect you), then feel pride that they're not like the "lost" who actually have to think for themselves and struggle through reality, not a cozy fantasy.
How people drift apart, as Harry and Sarah did, but still love their kids, is a theme that most people can relate to. The fact that Harry had the courage, just like his mom finally did, to let it go and start a new relationship, is the most reasonable thing he could have done. So many people try to "do the right thing" and end up just making both parties miserable for a lot longer than was necessary and drag the kids through the lack of love. The generational traditions, such as Black Rock, as well as the small town community, grounded the story and the commitment Harry had to his family and most people he came into contact with, despite all that had not gone right in his life. He took more than his share of responsibility for his choices and helped others with the knowledge that he did have. In my book, that made him a protagonist I could easily relate to and root for.
The excitement of the relationship with Lacie kept me turning the pages. It was so innocent and sweet, as falling in love is...feeling like the world is new again and full of hope.
I only wished Harry had been able to prevent the veteran's demise, but it does make a strong remark about the affect one human being has on the lives of others and also supports the author's anti-war/exploitation of government theme.
Because I believe the world and universe are inherently meaningless, but we as humans have the ability to give it any meaning we want to...to create beauty or ugliness...this novel spoke to me. It demonstrates what we are capable of with our lives and choices.
Another thing I enjoyed in the novel was the depth of sensory experiences from Harry's point of view, such as the smell of coffee, soap, and the pie, the feel of the shower, the layout of the town and bars, sound of the crickets in the marsh, and details down to the time of the arrival of the business owners' cars in the early morning and the bright spot behind his mother's framed picture. The writing felt comfortable and effortless because of these natural observations that were littered throughout. A novice writer would forget these things and the reader would know something was missing, but probably not be sure what.
How can I sum this up? It felt like I was looking over the shoulder of a best friend. Experiencing life not just in Harry's head, but in his heart and through everyone he gently nurtured around him. He understood his flaws, but did the best he could, and that's another reason he felt so real. This work gives readers the hope that they can change their lives and in turn their world.
The Room in review, August 20, 2007
I read this book on the way back from NY on the train. I couldn't put it down. It is a fast read and the you are completely engaged with the characters. I had one chapter left when I got off the train and went home to finish it. There are some difficult family dynamics for Harry and his family that anyone could relate too. I wasn't sure that I would enjoy this book because of the theory behind it. I was pleasantly surprised and recommend it.
Some Things Just Can't Be Explained...Or Can They?, August 12, 2007
Apex Reviews (New York, NC USA)
It was quiet in the room for awhile, but Harry could hear his brother still turning in bed.
"Malcolm. Can't you sleep?" Harry asked.
"I'm trying to, but I keep waking up. I was thinking about something, Harry. Daniel's family believes in God. They say he watches over people. Do you think it's true?"
"Not over us, Malcolm."
And so childhood goes for brothers Harry and Malcolm Ladd: victims of an extremely abusive father whose rage spares neither them nor their mother, for years forced to rely only on each other for the emotional, physical, and even financial support they need to endure a harsh reality that's theirs by inheritance alone. Faced with daily onslaughts of flying insults, food, and fists, ultimately the only solace that either boy can find is the safe haven of the closet located in their mother's room, momentarily insulated from their father's endless tirades.
As an unfortunate consequence, as time - and the abuse - goes on, the boys grow apart. Even more unfortunate is that Malcolm, the younger of the two, in his constant struggles to understand the reasons behind his father's violent behavior, ultimately blames his mother for allowing the abuse to continue. Despite Harry's best efforts to preserve his relationship with Malcolm, his younger brother eventually severs all family ties and moves on with his life as if he never knew his father, mother, or brother at all.
Thus, the stage is set for Harry, The Room's protagonist, as he struggles through one trial after another: overcoming his abusive childhood, he marries the successful, well-off Sarah - only to see his marriage crumble due to irreconcilable differences. The worst result of this? He loses custody of his precious daughters, Kaela and Lainey, who mean more to him than anything else in the world. And as if things couldn't get any worse, his mother is soon diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, coupled with a worsening dementia that rivals that of the worst Alzheimer's patients. You'd think that having to endure such setbacks would strengthen Harry's resolve, even making him a religious man, seeking God for peace & understanding amidst all the chaos in his life - but not so. Harry is a lifelong atheist, and he makes no secret of his disdain for organized religion. Witness an amusing exchange he has one afternoon with two Bible-thumping women on a scouting mission in his neighborhood:
Harry: "How do you know what your God thinks? Because someone told you? I plan to live my life the best I can and then make way for my children, and hopefully grandchildren to have their time."
Woman: "It sounds like you hate God."
Harry: "I don't believe in your god. Why would I hate him? What I hate is being cornered by his sales people."
In fact, even though his mood isn't normally upbeat, Harry remains resolved that things simply are the way that they're meant to be, and that, for good or for bad, people make way too much of trying to assign particular (divine) value to things. And his life soon goes on the upswing as he begins a promising relationship with Lacie, a remarkably sweet, supportive, and loving young woman in her own right. So, his renewed outlook on life bolsters him as he faces the onset of the inevitable, visiting his mother regularly and routinely humoring her during her delusions, comforting her for her own peace of mind - until his final visit to her before she dies: from the moment he arrives at the house, he senses something isn't quite right, and as soon as he steps foot in her room to spend what will be his final moments with her, his reality is suddenly transformed by a force the likes of which he cannot deny...what exactly it is or where exactly it comes from, though, remains a mystery...
For anyone who has ever wondered about the real psychological and emotional effects of domestic violence, The Room couldn't do a better job of highlighting its tragic truth in heart-breaking detail. The true genius, though, of Melnik's tale lies in the seamless way he intermarries cold scientific theory with the warmth of healing's redemptive power. In a refreshing twist, Melnik cleverly conveys a caveat that should serve as a clarion call for us all: even our most precious beliefs about life are always subject to revision - no matter how convinced we may be that things never change - and Harry's personification of this process is at the same time subtle and stirring.
A compelling read, very well written and crafted, The Room will surprise you with just how long its true message lingers well after you've put it down.
Intriguing, July 30, 2007
E. Gewirtz (New York, NY United States)
I was intrigued by the ideas and absorbed by the story. The characters are engaging as is the little town they live in. Interesting read and sweet romance!
The Room - extremely refreshing, July 9, 2007
The book is a broken life in review - you can feel his pain and sympathize with his conflicts. I particularly like the ending - having the self-knowledge to make the right choice and not to be bound to conventional decisions for the sake of "doing the right thing". He makes a choice that ultimately is right for everyone even though it seems the most difficult and painful at first. I recommend this book highly.
Definitely worth buying!, July 15, 2007
Gena Dry - author of The Five Questions You Must Ask Your Therapist's(New York)
This is a great read! I like this book because the subject matter not only is interesting and held my attention but it has depth and has a quality I always appreciate, it is thought provoking. I found it easy to emphasise with and relate to the lead character, Harry, and his dilemmas, which I feel is a sign of good writing. I found the storyline sensitively written and maintained my interest right to the end, the ending is especially good but I don't want to ruin the surprise for other readers! Anyone whose life didn't turn out as planned I am sure will enjoy the twists and ideas presented in this intricate and well written novel.
With its incorporation of a good degree of imagination and an unforeseen ending, we have a novel that is worth the read., July 5, 2007
Norman Goldman "Editor of Bookpleasures.com" (Montreal)
Harry Ladd, the protagonist of Ray Melnik's first novel, The Room, has had a rough go of it. During his childhood he and his brother Malcolm had been on the receiving end of their father's abuse. To escape these angry outbursts, the two youngsters would find refuge in their mother's bedroom closest.
Deeply affected by the cruel behavior of his father as well as his mother's reluctance to intervene, Malcolm left home during his teens and never looked back-severing all contact with his brother and mother. Apparently, Malcolm never forgave his mother for her inaction when their father physically and verbally abused them.
Harry now finds himself alone painfully witnessing his mother waste away as she has been diagnosed with brain cancer. To add to his burdens, Harry was recently divorced; however he does have the opportunity every Saturday to see his two young daughters, Kaela and Lainey. Another ray of sunshine in Harry's life is his befriending and subsequent relationship with Lacie, the daughter of the owner of a local pub located in the friendly hamlet of Washingtonville, New York, where Harry lives.
The plot proceeds through a series of delusional episodes experienced by Harry's mother, who believes that Harry and Malcolm are still young children and she agonizes over her failure to intrude and stop her husband from abusing them.
On the surface and up to the last quarter of the novel, The Room feels like a light escapist read with a predictable ending. However, without giving away too much, such is not the case as readers are pulled into a tightly focused and compassionate story. What is more the narrative contains the germ of a truly refreshing and novel idea that is loosely based on an interesting take of the string theory and how an event in our life can determine the course of our future. As Melnik mentions in the Prologue, "The Room asks the question: What if parallel universes were true and somehow two of those universes could lightly touch, creating a bubble?"
The Room is not flawless and its believability is diminished by some less compelling scenes between Harry and Lucie as well as the latter's weak characterization. At times I also found awkward the shifting from Harry's everyday experiences with his mother, his relationship with Lacie and his daily activities. These faults aside, Melnik, in a novel that requires a solid central figure, has admirably succeeded in deftly crafting a kindhearted lost soul through actions, appearance and dialogue and one that is easy to respect and like. As Melnik brings the book to a close, Harry leaves us with some thoughts to ponder about, although I must admit that initially I was a tad confused until I re-read the Prologue and the last chapter. Furthermore, with its incorporation of a good degree of imagination and an unforeseen ending, we have a novel that is worth the read.
Norm Goldman, Editor Bookpleasures
Science blended seamlessly with humanity, June 11, 2007
Joseph Lambertson (New York City)
The main character in "The Room" obviously believes that life's progression is all but random and so he stoically accepts the way his has apparently turned out. His loves are his children, and his science in that order plain and simple, his faith is only in what he can see and touch. But just when he and the reader think we know what's going to happen next...BAM! I didn't see it coming.
A different sort of page turner., June 6, 2007
Lily Serene "Lily" (Seattle, WA)
You feel for and with the main character and care what happens to him. The reference to string theory is interesting and I guess I'll need to learn more about it now. It's true that life doesn't usually turn out as planned, but it doesn't usually turn out as interesting as in this book either! Recommended for someone who likes a good read with real ideas included. Buy it, you'll like it.
An Excellent First Novel, May 18, 2007
Odaliz Rosalee Nieves "PR Book Queen" (Bronx, NY)
This author did a fantastic job with his first novel. It was an excellent read and by the third chapter I could not put it down. I felt like I could relate to Harry and agreed with some of his views. This book is well written and the character's opinions were expressed in a polite and non offensive way. He also does a good job getting emotion across, you feel for the characters and what they are going through. I enjoyed the twist at the end and I think that it is what makes this book unique. It is definitely something you will not see coming. I hope that people take the time to read this book and that they enjoy it as much as I did.
Infinite Possibilities, May 14, 2007
Joann Horai (Washington, DC)
This novel is worth a read. I loved it, truly. It became a page turner for me at chapter three. The author creates a sense of place and develops distinct characters and imagery. I think it would make a terrific movie.
At the novel's onset, Harry, the lead character, and Lacey fall in love as they learn and appreciate what makes each other tick and at its end, Harry and the cosmos seem to fall in love as well. Woven between, there is also an interesting story of how the same past affected two brothers in vastly different ways. The use of a few flashbacks gives us a glimpse into that past with his brother, now dying mother, and cruel father. The author makes it all work seamlessly.
Harry's views are vastly different than those of most people, but the feelings, the sadness, and the hope are universal. Right until the end, he embodies the belief that you may not be able to control everything in life, you can control how you react to your life unfolding.
Not to string you along, but I would ruin the ending if I revealed the extraordinary, yet convincing, twist. What I can say is that the twist made me smile somewhat at the thought that, given infinite possibilities, there is a best of all worlds somewhere with a me (and a you) in it.