Book Review: The Mars Room

Book Summary:

Romy Hall is facing two consecutive life sentences in Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility in California. Her son Jackson went to live with her mother when she was convicted of killing the man who was stalking her.

This book is about the reality of thousands of women living in close quarters and how they adjust to prison life.

It is about learning to bluff and barter and become accustomed to violence by guards as well as other prisoners.

It is mostly about survival.

My Review:

There is humor and there is pathos in this novel. At first I didn’t think I could get past the first few chapters, but I kept reading. Then I couldn’t stop till I finished reading it.

I got caught up in this world most of us don’t think or know about. You don’t want to imagine what life is like “inside”.

The prisoners try of make the most of what they have.

People are not born bad. Many times they are a product of the environment they grew up in. As is often the case, once they were victims too.

About The Author:

rachel kushner

Rachel Kushner was born in Eugene, Oregon, the daughter of two scientists whom she has described as “deeply unconventional people from the beatnik generation.”

Her mother arranged after-school work for her straightening and alphabetizing books at a feminist bookstore when she was 5 years old, and Kusher says “it was instilled in me that I was going to be a writer of some kind from a young age.”

Kushner moved with her family to San Francisco in 1979.



  1. What a great novel. The first 50 pages are harrowing to say the least. It just builds from there. There is a kernel to all her writing that takes me back to when I was a child in the 1980’s. Babysitters that were 7-10 years older than me would tell me stories about real people that had the aura of myths but were set against the reality, the strangeness and variety of modern America. There is a depth and skill to this work that guarantees it will be read for many years to come. I haven’t been this impressed with a book since “The Flamethrowers” or Franzen’s “Freedom” or maybe even Don Delillo’s “Underworld”…
    Added note; I totally disagree with this part of Dwight Garner’s review in the NYT; “ “The Mars Room” moves cautiously and slowly. It prowls rather than races.” No way, man…I read it in 3 days which is fast for me…every part of the book was riveting on many different levels.

Comments are closed.