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The Mars Room begins as its main character, an exotic dancer and single mother named Romy Leslie Hall, is transported to a women’s prison in the Central Valley, where she will serve two consecutive life sentences. As for how she got there, this is one of the narratives Kushner’s third novel explores. As a young woman, the San Francisco–bred Romy lived something of a feral existence. Or maybe she lived day to day. In prison, she must confront the fallout of this life, while worrying desperately about the welfare of her son, with whom she wants nothing more than to be reunited.



The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner