Certain women in prison make rules for everyone else, and the woman insisting on quiet was one of those. If you follow their rules, they make more rules. You have to fight people or you end up with nothing.
Everything has already been taken from Romy Hall, but at what point did her life, her little boy Jackson begin to drift away? With two consecutive life sentences to be served at the Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility in California’s Central Valley, tears will get her nowhere. The worst part of it all, her life was ruined over a stalker who wasn’t even her own! The book is so gritty I have to wash my eyes, and its wonderful for all its squalor. Working in a sleazy strip club, Romy has a little boy to raise, she does what she has to. Maybe she’s into drugs here and there, and stuck in the underbelly she’s learned how to handle herself, she certainly doesn’t make candy coated excuses for who she is. Don’t expect an anti-drug PSA, Romy loved the feelings drugs induced and won’t tell you otherwise. She is still the victim, regardless of what the court decided. Her life has been grim from the start, that it got far worse is evident from the beginning where she is being transported as a part of ‘Chain Night’, her first time. The women prisoners all have their chaos to impart on the reader, no hope for any of them, some happy to be back in prison, which like their families before them is a given, is as much a home as the outside. Naturally it’s shocking, some seem born under an unlucky star, others’ self-made luck simply ran out. At times, the games they played changed, played them.Or maybe, maybe something is wrong in their blood. The good are sometimes ugly, the bad are sometimes beautiful. This is the bottom of the well, there is nothing left to lose, there is no future, so why bother?
The stories bleed all over the pages, jump around like an addict in search of their next fix, and there is no redemption at all. No one is going to raise their hand in victory, crowing about how they always said they were innocent and now they’re free. No one is really inocent, least of all Romy, but what exactly did she do? Why? It doesn’t matter, because no one is going to fight for her, she doesn’t have the money that would be available to a different class of woman. It is a story about class, isn’t it?
You can’t look away, which is awful because this is someone’s misery, their absolute hell. It’s putting the book down and thinking, thank God it’s not me, like Romy once believed, until it was her. These sordid tales are like visiting another planet for some of us, we feel so far above it all, don’t we? Fictional, yes, but for others this type of life is a given, and the first thing we’ll say, “Well, why don’t they pull themselves out of it?” What soft, safe lives some of us live, through the lottery of our birth. There is a line that hits you between the eyes, it’s so true that when the ‘haves’ commit crimes it’s often excused as disorder. “We were not kleptomaniacs. That’s a term for rich people who steal by compulsion.”
Don’t be fooled, there is corruption everywhere, the disease of greed, power visits many hearts. For some, their fall is simply self-preservation. The cast of characters in The Mars Room is of many colors, genders, and ages; some with power and others without. What an ugly novel, just as it should be! So good!
Publication Date: May 1, 2018