The Mars Room – Rachel Kushner


A study on institutional living, via prison inmate Romy Hall who is serving two life sentences.

➽ “There has been a LOT of hype about The Mars Room so I went in with high expectations. Having just binge-watched the latest series of Orange is the New Black on Netflix meant that the content of The Mars Room didn’t feel as fresh for me – this is no fault of the author of course!

“I deeply felt the struggles of the mothers in prison with their children either being removed from them or being completely inaccessible.

“While there were the occasional funny situations and lines this book overall conveyed an enormous sense of helplessness and despair which seems accurate based on anything I’ve ever heard about the American justice system. I just wanted there to be a nugget of goodness in this novel, something uplifting that gave me hope, but it just wasn’t to be.” – Suzy

No Tank Tops, the sign said at Youth Guidance. Because it was
presumed the parents didn’t know better than to show up to court
looking like hell. The sign might have said Your Poverty Reeks.

➽ “The Mars Room is less about Romy Hall and more about the premise of institutional living and a commentary on your increased chances of ending up there if you are on the poor side of working class.

“It’s an intense, totally immersive read, retelling incidents and tricks of the trade that have obviously been well researched. What appealed to me was the no-hold barred reveal of tension-building tales.

“There is a late charge on plot, but I guess this is a true reflection of prison life, the mundane and the habitual making up your day until one day something outrageous happens.

“I certainly liked The Mars Room (though I would have named it differently), but at this stage in my shortlist reading, it hasn’t blown me away as something I think will win.” – Rachel

Published 2018
338 pages

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