Book Club Discussion Questions for 'The Mars Room' by Rachel Kushner

A cross between ‘Escape at Donnemora’ and ‘Orange is the New Black,’ this book is perfect for crime novel lovers that want a little bit more depth. The Mars Room is a thought-provoking portrayal of a seedy underbelly of San Francisco that readers will almost feel nostalgic for in a way. We loved this book and know you’ll get sucked in too!

Discussion Guide

  1. As we saw in recent superbowl commercials, 90’s and early 2000’s nostalgia is big in pop culture right now. This book questions whether that nostalgia is just. Was San Francisco a better city 20-30 years ago? Why/Why not?

  2. When Romy’s crime is revealed, did you feel bad for her? Could she have avoided this incident or was it inevitable?

  3. Do you think the author is trying to make any specific arguments about the U.S. justice system?

  4. Hauser. What was the deal with that dude? What did you take away from his character?

  5. Do you think this portrayal of a women’s prison is realistic?

  6. Gender and sexuality were key themes throughout the book - both as causes of crimes/recidivism and some instances of healing and generosity. What were some instances of each?

  7. What did you think of Romy’s actions at the end of the book? Was the close of the story satisfying?