Rachel Kushner’s novel The Mars Room focuses primarily on a young mother named Romy Hall who is serving a life sentence in jail. Romy’s experiences are rendered in unflinching detail, tacking between the circumstances that led to her criminal conviction and the reality of life inside.

Kushner brings Romy vividly to life and her voice carried me swiftly on through this harrowing but occasionally very funny novel, which left me with a great deal to think about.