The Mars Room: A Novel

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Romy Hall is serving two consecutive life sentences at the Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility for murdering her stalker. In her cell and around the prison, the women she meets are guilty of all manner of violent and terrible crimes, and their methods of surviving prison life are unforgiving and often cruel. Finding a friend or romantic partner on the outside is crucial, and rules and mores are arbitrary but inviolable. These are not innocent women. Yet as Kushner presents their histories, their crimes seem to recede, and what’s left are universal human concerns about the safety of loved ones. What’s left are questions that can never be answered about how they’ve come to be separated from the world beyond the prison walls–and whether they’ll be able to rebuild their lives if given the chance.

Kushner doesn’t sugarcoat the crimes these women have committed, nor does she editorialize when presenting the absurd hierarchies and daily struggles that go on inside the prison. Things are as they are at Stanville; life for Stanville women is this way and no other. There are no happy endings in The Mars Room, only the haunting clarity of a closed world splayed bracingly open.


Reviewed By:

Author Rachel Kushner
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 352 pages
Publisher Scribner
Publish Date 2018-May-01
ISBN 9781476756554
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue September 2018
Category Modern Literature
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