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Orange Is the New Black PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Orange Is the New Black
Author: Piper Kerman
Publisher: Published April 6th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau
ISBN: 9780385523387
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424 — With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424 — one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

30 review for Orange Is the New Black

  1. 5 out of 5

    Larry Smith

    [Spoiler alert as to the ending of the book! Read at your own risk.] I'm biased because Piper is my wife, and I'm in this book. But I still think it's am amazing journey story. I'm pretty sure if I didn't know Piper I would be spreading the word on ORANGE just as I've done other books. I read a pre-hype galley of Eat Pray Love, thought it was amazing, and sent to at least 5 friends. So there. Read Piper's book: you'll be really glad you did.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joice

    Allow me to summarize: "So, I am a privileged, white girl who was lost and confused. I made some mistakes, including becoming involved with an international drug ring. Oopsie. However, by the grace of my own incredible will, I got out, met a nice boy, and became a productive citizen. Then boom! Somebody snitched, and the government baddies came and put me in prison. But I was stoic! My heavens, was I ever! I accepted my fate and the consequences for my actions. And I was also pretty special. Des Allow me to summarize: "So, I am a privileged, white girl who was lost and confused. I made some mistakes, including becoming involved with an international drug ring. Oopsie. However, by the grace of my own incredible will, I got out, met a nice boy, and became a productive citizen. Then boom! Somebody snitched, and the government baddies came and put me in prison. But I was stoic! My heavens, was I ever! I accepted my fate and the consequences for my actions. And I was also pretty special. Despite my whiteness, all the brown and black folks loved me (because Blondie--yours truly--had street smarts and was ever so helpful to those in need). And you guys, these people taught me so much about life, love, and how hard it is to be NOT white and privileged! Which was totally cool. These people were my friends and I was sad when I had to leave them." What a pile of sanctimonious balderdash.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    What a shocker! A well-educated, upper class white woman goes to prison and builds strong bonds with her fellow inmates, who are mostly undereducated women of color from the wrong side of the tracks. I liked the book and I liked her. I did. But it irritates me that she seems to be marketing the book as this revealing story about how we're all just human after all. I didn't find her writing condescending of the other women. I found her to be non-judgmental and a truly good friend to everyone wort What a shocker! A well-educated, upper class white woman goes to prison and builds strong bonds with her fellow inmates, who are mostly undereducated women of color from the wrong side of the tracks. I liked the book and I liked her. I did. But it irritates me that she seems to be marketing the book as this revealing story about how we're all just human after all. I didn't find her writing condescending of the other women. I found her to be non-judgmental and a truly good friend to everyone worthy of her friendship. She suffers the indignities of prison with a straightforward kind of courage. She takes pride in the friendships she builds, in the work she does in prison and when opportunities arise for her because of her blonde hair and "tight ass" - opportunities that would endear her to the prison staff yet distance her from her fellow inmates - she politely turns them down. So what's my problem? Well, maybe this is unfair of me, but here goes: It still feels too self-congratulatory, too arrogant. And WAY too self-serving. While these friendships were meaningful to her in prison, I highly doubt she maintains them. She doesn't cop to the fact that the prison is a bubble, not the kind of bubble we think of when we talk about the lives of celebrities, but a bubble nonetheless. And the friendships she built, she built as a means to her own survival. She admits to reading the "How to Survive Prison" books, and I have no doubt that she hatched her plan to become "just one of the gang" as a result. And that's why there's no epilogue. She walks out of prison and she leaves those friendships behind. There's nothing more to tell about Pop, or Jae, or Natalie, because I suspect they are out of her life for good. Quite simply, she doesn't need them anymore. And what does she make of this experience in the final analysis? She writes a book that is by and large about how she conquered prison. How she navigated its tricky waters with aplomb. How she managed to always come out smelling like a rose. It bugs me. I would feel differently if now, instead of working in PR in some DC company shilling god-knows-what, she were working toward making some sort of positive difference. But I think for her it's just, Been there, Done that, Wrote the book. Back to my regularly scheduled life of privilege.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Clair

    After a very hearty recommendation from several people I trust, I started watching the Netflix original TV show Orange is The New Black. While it can be a little disjointed and awkward in parts, it has its charm. The characters are memorable and the story-lines are very compelling. While I haven't had time to marathon the series in its entirety, I thought to check out Piper Kerman's candid memoir of her life in prison, where she was incarcerated for a drug trafficking charge almost a decade afte After a very hearty recommendation from several people I trust, I started watching the Netflix original TV show Orange is The New Black. While it can be a little disjointed and awkward in parts, it has its charm. The characters are memorable and the story-lines are very compelling. While I haven't had time to marathon the series in its entirety, I thought to check out Piper Kerman's candid memoir of her life in prison, where she was incarcerated for a drug trafficking charge almost a decade after committing the crime. So, how does Kerman's biography stand up to the TV show? Well... There's certainly enough material to adapt, considering Kerman was a fish completely out of water when put into the prison scene, and tensions and drama are definitely going to crop up in a prison. A little like high school, there are popular people whom you need to earn the approval of, there are authority figures who are either completely out of touch with your day to day life, or otherwise completely corrupt; there are inmates who you might need to avoid, et cetera. What I'm most disappointed in with Orange is the New Black is how it handles what the prison system does to its female inmates, and how different it is to the experience of a male prisoner. You'd think a highly educated person such as Piper Kerman (coming from a very privileged background, and educated at a private university) would notice these things and refer to facts and figures and essays in her work, but no. Orange is the New Black is honestly one of the most nearsighted biographies I have read. Here's the thing – I know biographies are supposed to be somewhat nearsighted. They're accounts of something that happened to a singular person, whether they worked their guts out to become the Grand Chessmaster or a singer or a dancer or a professional chef. However, Orange is the New Black deals with a rather sensitive subject, that being the experience of a female in prison. There are tonnes of creative and intellectual ways to describe the isolation, the alienation, the sisterhood between inmates, the class structure between the incarcerated and the prison staff, and how a lot of women in prison cope with being unable to see their families or care for their children. (Which is briefly touched upon, but each time it's a rather throwaway reference. It reads like: “Look at these women who don't want their kids to visit them! Back to me. Back to me. Back to me. Oh, would you look at the kids meeting their mothers on Mothering Sunday. Sad isn't it. Back to me.”) The book makes one statistic clear to us, though – the US prison population skyrockets year upon year. The length of incarceration and recidivism affects people from all levels of society – if you ever take a crime module in Sociology, prepare to blow apart the New Right's belief that criminals are only ever low-class, uneducated thugs, and that rich people have the morals to not commit crimes. Piper may not exclusively rub elbows with corrupt bankers and corporate embezzlers in prison, but it is important to note that Piper really, really casts herself as sticking out like a sore thumb. Which, admittedly, she is – she's a university-educated upper-middle class girl whose bohemian post-college days led her to making bad decisions and whoops, having to pay the consequences for it later down the line. A lot of girls in the prison don't have a high school education, and the high school degree programme in the prison has been shut down due to the prison's only classroom becoming mouldy. You'd think Piper would come in and point out about the lack of opportunities for education and how prisons are subject to constant budget cuts despite the fact that some states in the US spend more on their incarcerated individuals than they do on school children. Nope! It's just swept away as an aside. Here's the thing – prison would open your eyes a lot more than the way Piper carries on. She just goes through her days like nothing is wrong. Piper's day is essentially: “I did this. I did that. Everyone was surprisingly nice to me. I noticed this. I did that. I missed my old life. I went to bed.” Towards the start of her incarceration, Piper starts getting books sent in from all her friends, and loving letters of encouragement. Followed by one brief observation about how there are some people who get no letters or gifts whatsoever. It would have been nice to elaborate on that in a more empathic way than: “Oh, what a shame. Her family and friends don't write to her. Back to me!” Don't expect the book to contain any of the scenes from the TV show – Red doesn't put a used tampon in a breakfast muffin, or get her staff to starve Piper. You still see Pennsatucky, Red and Big Boo and the other inmates you'll know from the TV show, just under different monikers. Piper in the TV show starts off like a scared little mouse, but manages to claw her way up the social ladder in prison by using her wits. Piper in the book just remains the same way she did when she arrived for her incarceration. You never, ever get the sense that she learned anything from her experience aside from learning that sanitary towels can be used in a variety of ways. She's also quite judgemental and horrible in the book. Big Boo is referred to as a 'bulldyke', which isn't really a word a cis woman like Piper ought to be using to describe a lesbian. You could have said she was a bullish, heavy-set woman, and mentioned her sexuality elsewhere (if it really needed to be brought up), rather than going straight for the slur. Some of the white girls are referred to as 'Eminemlettes'. Let's look at how they're introduced, shall we? 'Caucasian girls from the wrong side of the tracks with big mouths and big attitudes, who weren't taking shit from anyone (except the men in their lives).' (47%) Yeah, that's not actually a funny observation. And giving them that Eminem-based nickname, considering that Eminem has quite a few songs featuring heavy violence towards women? I have two rare birds of the Middle Finger genus I'd like to show the author. There's also somebody referred to as 'bipolar Colleen.' No, seriously, our introduction to her is to slap her with her mental illness. She's not a person at all, she's just a mental disorder! Speaking of mental illness... 'The twice-daily pill line in Danbury was always long, snaking out of the medical office into the hall. Some women were helped enormously by the medication they took, but some of them seemed zombified, doped to the gills. Those women scared me; what would happen when they hit the streets and no longer could go to pill line?' (61%) I think that extract speaks for itself, don't you? To add to the uncomfortable homophobia, judgemental attitude and mentalism, we get some subtle transphobia. Fans of the TV show will know Sophia, a transwoman in the prison who proves to be a very valuable friend to Piper and who quickly became one of my favourite characters for how well-written and charming she was. Let's see how book!Piper depicts Sophia (named Vanessa in the book). 'I soon got my first glimpse of Vanessa – all six feet, four inches of blond, coffee-coloured, balloon-breasted almost-all-woman that she was.' (62%) See that? She's only almost a woman through Piper's eyes. She's too tall and fake-looking to be a woman, and it doesn't matter that Vanessa identifies as a woman and has worked to make her gender identity line up with her outside appearance, she'll never quite be a woman, according to Piper's narration here. Excuse me while I go chuck something at the wall. 'An admiring crowd of young women had gathered around her, and she lapped up the attention. This was no unassuming “shim” unfortunately incarcerated and trying to get along; Vanessa was a full-blown diva. It was as if someone had shot Mariah Carey through a matter-disrupter and plunked her down in our midst.' (62%) Note the use of the 'shim' slur there. The description of Vanessa being a prissy, attention-seeking diva. Piper makes her sound like a theatrical drag queen as opposed to a woman born into the wrong sex. It's transphobia, and it's really gross to read. In fact, she refers to Vanessa later as being 'drag queen funny', If it was supposed to be funny, then, no. It's not. So, what about the rest of the book? Honestly, it's really not that much of a riveting read. This is honestly a case where the producers of the TV show sewed a silk purse out of a sow's ear, because the book does nothing with the premise we're given. Piper just makes observations, occasionally harks to some sociological data and societal differences she's noticed, but it's done in such an offhanded and dismissive way. I was actually craving for there to be references and studies listed in the back, like in Nancy Jo Sales' The Bling Ring. (Even though that book is arguably just as judgemental and dismissive as this is.) You're basically reading the biography of a rich white girl whose time in prison was basically spent making friends with everyone, having a great link to the outside world (seriously, she has a job in marketing at her friend's company just waiting for her when she's let out), getting fit in the prison's (admittedly meagre) exercise facilities, and enjoying her jobs in the construction and the electrical shop. It didn't really live up to my expectations, and it turned what was a really enjoyable TV series into dull drudge that did nothing with its premise nor treated the characters as individuals. They're just cardboard cut-outs that occasionally come into Piper's line of sight every now and again. Rather than developing them, Kerman just goes straight for the one word label (which is preferably a slur) she can refer to them as so that the audience know just what kind of 'oddballs' they are, because prison is just full of deviants, right? There's no warmth whatsoever in this novel. Occasionally Piper makes an amusing observation about prison life, but the rest of the biography is delivered in such a myopic and unsympathetic fashion that I really struggled to understand just how such a fun TV series could come from such a boring biography that had no right to be anywhere near as dull as it was. 2/5. (This review is also available on my blog: http://nessasky.wordpress.com/2013/11...)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    I really wanted to give this a better review, because I love it on Netflix. Maybe I would have liked it better if I hadn't seen the show first. Basically, I felt like this story lacked depth, was repetitive and quite often felt phoney. I was annoyed by the constant reminders that Piper's blue eyes and blonde hair made her life pretty easy, and that her inclusion with the "popular" crowd (aka: Pop's friends) got her lots of perks. Characters were underdeveloped and there was no real flow. Oh, and d I really wanted to give this a better review, because I love it on Netflix. Maybe I would have liked it better if I hadn't seen the show first. Basically, I felt like this story lacked depth, was repetitive and quite often felt phoney. I was annoyed by the constant reminders that Piper's blue eyes and blonde hair made her life pretty easy, and that her inclusion with the "popular" crowd (aka: Pop's friends) got her lots of perks. Characters were underdeveloped and there was no real flow. Oh, and don't get me started on unrealistic dialogue. I feel like this review is more of an endorsement for the show than anything. What Netflix has done is take a very mediocre framework and build something utterly fantastic on it. I'm sure they're paying Piper Kerman dearly for the rights to her story, but I feel like she should be paying them.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    So, I read the reviews and people in the "dislike" camp are right. It's a memoir, so it's about her experience. The author's well off and a WASP and she had it relatively easy in prison what with all the letters, books and visits she received from family and friends. There are no major conclusions about the sociology of her experience nor are there calls to action on ways for people to address any of the many things prison does not do for society. But I repeat, it is a memoir. What we get is a l So, I read the reviews and people in the "dislike" camp are right. It's a memoir, so it's about her experience. The author's well off and a WASP and she had it relatively easy in prison what with all the letters, books and visits she received from family and friends. There are no major conclusions about the sociology of her experience nor are there calls to action on ways for people to address any of the many things prison does not do for society. But I repeat, it is a memoir. What we get is a look at what prison did to a healthy, sane woman, written in a clear, grammatically correct and engaging, storytelling style. We get the psychological journey and it is enough to make me never want to go to jail, because even though she exited unscathed when compared to other prisoners, she still had a horrid experience. It is up to the reader to flex those mental muscles, to practice a little empathy and draw the connections to the question of "what if Piper were one of the other ones?" For example, the author describes the experience of exiting the prison system: The lack of communication of what she could expect, the return-to-society "training" she was required to take, the description of having to give away all her things and leave dressed in one set of clothes that weren't even hers, with nothing in her pocket but the $28.50* she'd earned in prison work. She was crazed, became paranoid and scared because she was being released in a city thousands of miles from her family. And she was an educated woman who had someone coming to pick her up. She told her story. It is my job to make connections to the appropriateness of jail and other forms of revenge and punishment that are socially acceptable in our civilization. To educate myself about programs written about in Shorris's Riches for the Poor and The Art of Freedom. It is my job to reflect. I liked this book. I think it is important because as an educated woman, I can relate. I can see myself in her shoes. And that is the power of this book- to get people who wouldn't think that it could ever happen to them to see that it has happened to people like them. And maybe getting me to see myself in those shoes will get me to reflect how we as a society punish law breaking. *I made that number up.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    It's not often that I outright dislike a book, but I disliked this one. Intensely. With a passion. I feel a little bad about that, as a good friend recommended it for our book club, but I'm guessing I had a surly face when I showed up to discuss it that evening. In terms of the writing, my main gripe is that nothing happens. "How is that possible?" you ask. "This privileged, blonde, Smith graduate went to jail!" Yes. This is true. And I have no idea how it's possible that nothing happens, but thi It's not often that I outright dislike a book, but I disliked this one. Intensely. With a passion. I feel a little bad about that, as a good friend recommended it for our book club, but I'm guessing I had a surly face when I showed up to discuss it that evening. In terms of the writing, my main gripe is that nothing happens. "How is that possible?" you ask. "This privileged, blonde, Smith graduate went to jail!" Yes. This is true. And I have no idea how it's possible that nothing happens, but this also is true. It's like she got out of jail, realized she could sell a book about her experiences, and cobbled together some random stories to form a semblance of a book. There's no real flow or direction. Even worse than the writing, though, is the fact that there's no character development. Piper doesn't seem to learn from her experience or grow as a person. She basically tells us over and over again how much everyone likes her in jail. Oh, and she's pretty. So pretty! Everyone tells her so! She's such a shallow person, and while it can be great fun to read a book where the characters are completely unlikeable, I couldn't get past my distaste in this case.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I totally picked up this book because I love the show on Netflix and wanted to read about the real deal. This is one of my favorite shows and it's funny because I could pick out some of the real people in the book that are in the show. Obviously the real names are not given. Piper talks about the stupid, stupid drug stuff she got into with Nora. I mean moving drugs and money for a drug lord, come on. And then 10 years later, she gets caught and taken to jail! Just when you think you turned your I totally picked up this book because I love the show on Netflix and wanted to read about the real deal. This is one of my favorite shows and it's funny because I could pick out some of the real people in the book that are in the show. Obviously the real names are not given. Piper talks about the stupid, stupid drug stuff she got into with Nora. I mean moving drugs and money for a drug lord, come on. And then 10 years later, she gets caught and taken to jail! Just when you think you turned your life around, um, NOT! And then when they tell her she is going to trial and then to prison, it takes 6 years to get to the trial. I would have went nuts every day of those 6 years! Piper talks about life in prison and about the friends she actually made there. I really enjoyed reading about this because it make it a little nicer having friends. As Nina headed down the hill to the FCI, I felt a real sense of loss. She was the first real friend I had made, and I wouldn't have any contact with her at all. Prison is so much about the people who are missing from your life and who fill your imagination. Some of the women who had sisters or cousins down the hill in the high-security prison. One day while walking back to work after lunch, I glimpsed Nina through the back gate of the FCI and went crazy jumping up and down and waving. She saw me and waved too. The truck that patrolled the prison perimeter screeched to a halt between us. "Cut that shit out!" came sharply from the guard inside. Piper really did have a job in the electrical area and people came and went from jobs, from the prison. It seemed like every time she made a good friend, they were off to to somewhere else. I grew powerfully attached to Natalie in just a short time--she was very kind to me. and I could tell that being her bunkie conferred on me an odd credibility among other prisoners. But despite, or because of, the fact that we lived in the closest of quarters, I knew virtually nothing about her--just that she was from Jamaica and that she had two children, a daughter and a young son. That was really it. When I asked Natalie whether she had started her time down the hill in the FCI, she just shook her head. "No, bunkie, back in the day things were a little different. I went down there for a little while--an' it was nothin' nice." That was all I was going to get. It was clear that where Natalie was concerned, personal subjects were off limits, and I had to respect that. Piper had a lot of people visiting her in the jail, unlike in the tv series. Larry, her fiance came all of the time. But she had friends and family coming all of the time. She was getting letters and tons of BOOKS in the mail. Yes, books! What would we do without our books! =) I did enjoy this book a lot. The author also does an interview at the back of the book and she has a lot of references to different things concerning women in jail. I'm going to look into some of them! MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

  9. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Two hundred women, no phones, no washing machines, no hair dryers--it was like Lord of the Flies on estrogen. Piper Kerman screwed up. She fell in love. One thing led to another and the next thing she knew, she traveled the world as an international drug traffickers. Whoops. Ten years later, that drug ring was busted and her name was brought to attention. So, it would be fair to say she screwed up colossally. Despite the offence being a decade old, the current law forces all those who are invo Two hundred women, no phones, no washing machines, no hair dryers--it was like Lord of the Flies on estrogen. Piper Kerman screwed up. She fell in love. One thing led to another and the next thing she knew, she traveled the world as an international drug traffickers. Whoops. Ten years later, that drug ring was busted and her name was brought to attention. So, it would be fair to say she screwed up colossally. Despite the offence being a decade old, the current law forces all those who are involved with drugs are pursued to the fullest extent of the law. And so she goes to prison for fifteen months, with her family and fiance waving sadly from the sidelines. (Note: fiance isn't the one who got her into trafficking) I knew that I would have to be brave. Not foolhardy, not in love with risk and danger, not making ridiculous exhibitions of myself to prove that I wasn't terrified--really genuinely brave. This book did have a bit of a Mary-Sue-ness to Piper. Her innocence and goodness is over-emphasized and her drug involvement glossed over. She does make herself out to be the end-all-be-all hero (but it was not nearly as bad as Wild ). However, she does own up to her mistakes and the zany, funny and heartbreaking side characters certainly made up for any of the Mary-Sueing. The injustices she suffered (i.e. some of the male guards taking liberties with the pat-downs), the conditions of the women's prison (i.e. sickening black mold in the GED classroom) and the complete lack of everything normal (i.e. being given "fresh" underclothes that were very, very obviously used and unwashed) were deplorable and (of course) made this book riveting - and heartbreaking. Every human being makes mistakes and does things they’re not proud of. They can be everyday, or they can be catastrophic. And the unfortunate truth of being human is that we all have moments of indifference to other people’s suffering. The 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge - A book from a celebrity book club Blog | Instagram | Twitter

  10. 5 out of 5

    PhobicPrerogative

    The details in this book were impressive, but it got tiring eventually. I suppose she had to stretch out everything that happened that year into those pages. There were also a lot of women mentioned, and my head was spinning, trying to keep track of them. Although well-written, the one thing I honestly didn't like about this memoir is that the author came off as a bit smug, like she was better than the other prisoners. There was a "Mary Sue" impression I got of her, the woman who got along with ev The details in this book were impressive, but it got tiring eventually. I suppose she had to stretch out everything that happened that year into those pages. There were also a lot of women mentioned, and my head was spinning, trying to keep track of them. Although well-written, the one thing I honestly didn't like about this memoir is that the author came off as a bit smug, like she was better than the other prisoners. There was a "Mary Sue" impression I got of her, the woman who got along with everybody, the woman everybody thought of as the All-American girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. Unintentionally, she came off as a Saviour to her fellow inmates. Some parts of the story were frustrating: her friends and family were amazing through it all. Really? There wasn't one person who was angry with her? There wasn't one person in that network of friends who called her stupid for her stupid youthful decisions? It made that part of her life so unreal that I didn't care much about reading anything involving Larry or her family. I admit I skipped the last few chapters when she was about to be released because it was a repetition of the same thing. The ending was quite disappointing. Questions were left unanswered; did she keep in touch with the friends she made while in prison? Or those who she left behind (such as Pop) and those who were released before and after her? All those women she said were her dearest friends? It would have been nice for us to know what happened AFTER her release. For example, Pom-Pom had sent a distressing letter to one of the inmates about having a hard time adjusting post-release - did Piper reach out to her? More so, how did Piper adjust to being in the world after prison? One chapter would have sufficed including those bits that readers were curious about, but all we got was a "Piper Kerman is a Vice President, etc" blurb, and it wasn't enough.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    This book was remarkably enjoyable to read. The writing is light and breezy, and it’s very well written, though not beautifully written; it’s a very straightforward account. Even though the author was so much more privileged than a typical women inmate, I got a good feel for not only her experiences but those of the even more unfortunate inmates. I learned a lot about life on the inside. One main thing is if you’re a nice person and you treat others well and you’re open to relationships with other This book was remarkably enjoyable to read. The writing is light and breezy, and it’s very well written, though not beautifully written; it’s a very straightforward account. Even though the author was so much more privileged than a typical women inmate, I got a good feel for not only her experiences but those of the even more unfortunate inmates. I learned a lot about life on the inside. One main thing is if you’re a nice person and you treat others well and you’re open to relationships with others, you will find community anywhere. I was very touched so many times. The American prison system is so absurd. This author did not belong in prison. The situation is almost laughable. Give people such as her many hours of community service. Well, she got a book out of it. But for the many other women who also pose no real threat to society who are written about in this book, there are other, better options. The number of people is prison is ridiculous, as is the percentage of Americans who’ve been incarcerated. Humans are humans everywhere so it did not surprise me to see all the personality types, lifestyles, ways of coping, etc. match life outside to that of people in the prison, not to mention the various insane ways of doing or not doing things. Absurd rules and situations abounded. I’d forgotten that Martha Stewart did not get her wish to be in Danbury so I kept wondering if she’d show up. One thing I found most amazing/disgusting is how laundry detergent is dispensed to Danbury women’s camp inmates for free, and menstrual supplies are present in abundance, enough so that they’re multiuse, but everything else, including soap, toothpaste, and other such things have to be bought in the commissary, with either prison earnings (for many women) or money sent from the outside. Also, the amount it costs to keep each prisoner incarcerated is ridiculous. For most violent offenders and a few others, that’s where they need to be. For all others, there are many other better options, for treatment/rehabilitation and/or punishment. I would not survive, I don’t think. But I love seeing (in all the prison books I’ve read) how the new normal of being incarnated simply becomes people’s new lifestyles, and full lives are lived by the majority of prisoners. They might not be as satisfying and are certainly more restricted than most, but people adapt beautifully, for the most part. The author is atypical, though not unique, re her level of education, her high socioeconomic status, her tremousdous amount of support from her fiancée and family and friends, having a love of reading and books, and having many, many books sent to her, having a tremendous amount of support from the outside, and having a relatively short sentence. She acknowledges all this, and makes clear she’s luckier than most. If she hadn’t continually professed these facts, I’d have had an incredibly hard time reading this book. But I appreciated the author’s honesty about herself and I was touched when she came to see the harm she did to others when she committed her crime, and because she was giving and has empathy for others and made the best of her situation, she comes across to me as very likeable, even though in the outside world I don’t think she’s “my kind” of person. Some thoughts as I read: We must do away with these silly mandatory federal minimum sentences. It’s ridiculous to be incarcerated for a this kind of crime committed a decade earlier and when the person self-surrenders. What a waste, for everybody. There is a shockingly poor standard of living but not as bad as for some not in prison, and the women definitely tweaked the system. No psychiatric care and awful medical care, and the vast majority of the women get released so unprepared to succeed. Lousy food. At one point when I was an omnivore I might have survived. They did have (inedible) tvp for the vegetarians and a sort of salad bar. I think in minimum security women’s prisons more of the staff should be women, and the men should be better screened!! Absurd minimum wage, given that inmates have to buy their own basic items, especially for those without a diploma/GED, 14¢ an hour, and the commissary prices are extremely inflated. The account has funny parts galore, due to the ludicrousness of the situations of those connected to "the camp" in Danbury. The last chapter, titled It Can Always Get Worse, and other parts, especially parts at the end and beginning, really touched me. Very readable and interesting and hard to put down. Our system needs a big overhaul in my opinion. 4 ½ stars

  12. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    I have never watched Orange is the New Black, but a few GR reviews had me curious about the book that formed the basis for the show. I listened to the audio. It would be easy to be fairly negative about this book: -As a white university educated upper middle class woman, Piper is completely unrepresentative of the general prison population -- for example, while other women worry about where they are going to live when they get released, Piper's fiancé is buying an apartment in Brooklyn. -She comes I have never watched Orange is the New Black, but a few GR reviews had me curious about the book that formed the basis for the show. I listened to the audio. It would be easy to be fairly negative about this book: -As a white university educated upper middle class woman, Piper is completely unrepresentative of the general prison population -- for example, while other women worry about where they are going to live when they get released, Piper's fiancé is buying an apartment in Brooklyn. -She comes across as a bit of a Pollyanna -- always figuring out how to do the right thing and be helpful to other people. -She makes prison life sound pretty good -- a place to make good friends with a bunch of women making the best out of a bad situation. But, still, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Piper's story: -She recognizes her privileged position, and does a good job of focusing on the more difficult circumstances of other inmates -- and in reality it's likely this position of privilege that has allowed her to write the book and bring attention to some the issues she raises about senseless lengthy incarceration for non violent crimes. -It's hard not to like Piper -- she isn't prissy -- she just zeroes in on a culture in which women helped her and she found ways to reciprocate -She completely humanizes the other women -- they come from many different backgrounds and have a big range of issues -- but most of them are people in a bad situation craving connection -- she also recognizes that she is in minimum security which doesn't include women incarcerated for violent offences and is not representative of the prison experience for all female inmates. Anyways, I'm glad I listened to it. I gather the show is completely different, but I may have to give it a try... A note on the audio: the narrator has a great voice and good pacing, and I loved how she reproduced the accents of Piper's fellow inmates.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book really bugged me. It was recommended to me by a someone whose opinion I respect, so I was sort of surprised she was such an advocate for this book. But this professor also uses True Notebooks by Mark Salzman in her class, and that book kind of bugs me too, for rather the same reason--in Salzman's book I was somewhat struck by the fact that many of the people who committed crimes spoke/wrote of their crimes as something that happened *to* them, rather than actions they took. It was a ve This book really bugged me. It was recommended to me by a someone whose opinion I respect, so I was sort of surprised she was such an advocate for this book. But this professor also uses True Notebooks by Mark Salzman in her class, and that book kind of bugs me too, for rather the same reason--in Salzman's book I was somewhat struck by the fact that many of the people who committed crimes spoke/wrote of their crimes as something that happened *to* them, rather than actions they took. It was a very odd way of discussing/thinking of their actions that I personally found really off-putting. And I had the same reaction to Kerman's book. Speaking of distancing--that's another thing that bothered me about this book--it's all surface. She does a lot of telling, but not a lot of showing, and it has a distancing effect. She says she feels something, but she rarely seems to describe her actions or behavior in a way that would show or even stem from that feeling, and thus it was hard to tell whether she actually felt that way or not. While she speaks often of her shame, I don't actually *feel* or *see* this shame in action. She says she feels badly for putting her family through pain, but I never see her talking or writing to any of her family members in any way that indicates regret or sorrow. She doesn't seem to act any differently to any of them when she was a 20-year-old or when she was in her mid-30s. She almost never mentions the accomplice (or how she feels about the accomplice) she blames for introducing her to a life of crime, but then at the end of the book, she suddenly expresses near-homicidal rage at this accomplice, and the effect is jarring. If Kerman was soooo angry at this accomplice, why not mention that throughout the book, rather than suddenly at the end say "I wanted to kill her"? That kind of anger seems like it might take up a lot more mental and emotional energy than Kerman shows it doing throughout the book. Again, Kerman's attitude toward this accomplice also angered me. It's not like Kerman was forced against her will to participate in several years of criminal activity. She was a very willing participant. And she benefited financially from the experience quite nicely. But she places ALL the blame on the accomplice and never once actually admits "You know what? I did this. No one MADE me. I chose to." The same problem occurs when Kerman tries to express her admiration and affection for her friends in jail. She never adequately shows the women as the inspiring, dignified, role models Kerman took them as. She just says "Wow, this person was really amazing to me" but does not quote the woman saying or show the woman doing anything that is really... amazing. One could say "I guess you had to be there" but isn't making her reader feel like she/he IS there part of the writer's job? Finally, I guess the main failing of the book AS a book, to me, is that there seems to be no change in Kerman at all. She seems to think pretty highly of herself throughout the entire book. She never seems to feel--or, to put it more kindly, perhaps, never manages to convey--true regret or sorrow, not for what she did to her fiance or family, and most importantly, not for what she did to herself. She starts off the book as a spoiled, shallow young girl and ends the book a spoiled, shallow woman. And maybe only fiction is supposed to have some sort of arc of change in the main character, but why am I reading a book about someone who doesn't really change at all, over the course of 20 years, really? What's the point?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alaine

    Wow. Did the makers of the show hone in on this book as a raw idea, then flesh it out to make the show? Because the show is freakin' GENIUS and...let's just say I am not picking up on genius from the book. It begins early on, when Piper lets us know that she wasted all those years in an elite university majoring in theater without any actual life goals in mind. And she doesn't seem embarrassed about this at all. She goes through prison acting like a whiny, spoiled, entitled, rich brat. And then Wow. Did the makers of the show hone in on this book as a raw idea, then flesh it out to make the show? Because the show is freakin' GENIUS and...let's just say I am not picking up on genius from the book. It begins early on, when Piper lets us know that she wasted all those years in an elite university majoring in theater without any actual life goals in mind. And she doesn't seem embarrassed about this at all. She goes through prison acting like a whiny, spoiled, entitled, rich brat. And then she writes a book, which has no soul. All those years in an elite university (that she never tires of mentioning) and she can't write. This book is so very devoid of personality that it feels like it was written by someone totally unattached to the situation rather than by the person who lived it. Watch the show. Get the library book if you must. Don't pay money for this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    There are so many things I liked about this book! In 2004, Piper Kerman spent a year in a women's prison for a decade-old drug offense. Her memoir is thoughtful, enlightening and, at times, humorous. I'm not surprised it was adapted into a successful TV series on Netflix -- it's a perfect fish-out-of-water story. Piper -- who is a white, upper-middle class college graduate from Boston -- is upfront about how stupid she was in her early 20s. In 1993, Piper was hanging out with a woman, Nora, who b There are so many things I liked about this book! In 2004, Piper Kerman spent a year in a women's prison for a decade-old drug offense. Her memoir is thoughtful, enlightening and, at times, humorous. I'm not surprised it was adapted into a successful TV series on Netflix -- it's a perfect fish-out-of-water story. Piper -- who is a white, upper-middle class college graduate from Boston -- is upfront about how stupid she was in her early 20s. In 1993, Piper was hanging out with a woman, Nora, who bragged that she was working for a West African drug dealer. Nora's job was to fly to various countries to help smuggle drugs and money, and she invited Piper to Indonesia to "keep her company." At first it was a bacchanalia in Bali: "days and nights of sunbathing, drinking, and dancing all hours." However, Piper was eventually asked to help pick up money wires at banks, and then to fly to Brussels carrying a suitcase of drug money. "For four months of my life, I traveled constantly with Nora, occasionally touching down in the States for a few days. We lived a life of relentless tension, yet it was also often crushingly boring. I had little to do, other than keep Nora company while she dealt with her 'mules.' I would roam the streets of strange cities all alone. I felt disconnected from the world even as I was seeing it, a person without a person or place. This was not the adventure I craved. I was lying to my family about every aspect of my life and growing sick and tired of my adopted drug 'family.'" Eventually Piper was able to separate herself from Nora and settled in San Francisco, where she met her future husband, Larry. Piper says she didn't tell anyone about her crime experience; she was ashamed of it and thought it was all behind her. Five years later, she and Larry had moved to New York and were settling in to new jobs when two police officers showed up at her apartment and informed her that she had been charged with drug smuggling and money laundering. Thus began her "long, torturous expedition through the labyrinth of the U.S. criminal justice system." Because Piper had been named as a co-conspirator in a massive court case that involved an African drug kingpin, it took years to reach a settlement. Finally, Piper was sentenced to 15 months in prison, and in February 2004 she self-surrendered at the women's prison in Danbury, Connecticut. "I had only the most tenuous idea of what might happen next, but I knew that I would have to be brave. Not foolhardy, not in love with risk and danger, not making ridiculous exhibitions of myself to prove that I wasn't terrified -- really, genuinely brave. Brave enough to be quiet when quiet was called for, brave enough to observe before flinging myself into something, brave enough to not abandon my true self when someone else wanted to seduce or force me in a direction I didn't want to go, brave enough to stand my ground quietly." Slowly, Piper learns the rules and routine of prison life. This is the most fascinating part of the book because not much is written about women in prison -- most stories are told from the man's point of view. Before surrendering, Piper had read some books about how to survive prison, but even those were all written for men. One of the first things Piper noticed is how the inmates were grouped into "tribes," based mostly on race. "When a new person arrived, their tribe -- white, black, Latino or the few and far between 'others' -- would immediately make note of their situation, get them settled, and steer them through their arrival. If you fell into that 'other' category -- Native American, Asian, Middle Eastern -- then you got a patchwork welcome committee of the kindest and most compassionate women from the dominant tribes." Piper joked that living in a women's dormitory in college helped prepare her for prison life, because navigating the gossip, rules and social customs was critical to getting along. Piper made some friends and mostly steered clear of troublemakers. The memoir is critical of America's prisons, pointing out the serious flaws in our criminal justice system. Piper's attorney had warned her that the hardest thing about prison would be following all of the "chickenshit rules enforced by chickenshit people." And that advice was proven true over and over again. Piper described inappropriate behavior by male guards toward female prisoners, but said that if an inmate complains, she gets sent to solitary confinement until the issue gets sorted out, which could takes days or even weeks. Meanwhile, the inmate is essentially being punished for being a whistleblower, so Piper said inmates were reluctant to complain, and some guards would take advantage of that. "It is hard to conceive of any relationship between two adults in America being less equal than that of prisoner and prison guard. The formal relationship, enforced by the institution, is that one person's word means everything and the other's means almost nothing; one person can command the other to do just about anything, and refusal can result in total physical restraint. That fact is like a slap in the face. Even in relation to the people who are anointed with power in the outside world -- cops, elected officials, soldiers -- we have rights within our interactions. We have a right to speak to power, though we may not exercise it. But when you step behind the walls of a prison as an inmate, you lose that right. It evaporates, and it's terrifying." Another criticism Piper has is how the so-called war on drugs has bloated America's prisons, yet there are hardly any helpful re-entry programs for inmates who are returning to the outside world. Housing an inmate is expensive, and Piper noted that many people would have been better off and more productive doing community service, such as working with drug addicts, than wasting time in prison: "But our current criminal justice system has no provision for restorative justice, in which an offender confronts the damage they have done and tries to make it right to the people they have harmed. (I was lucky to get there on my own, with the help of the women I met.) Instead, our system of 'corrections' is about arm's-length revenge and retribution, all day and all night. Then its overseers wonder why people leave prison more broken than when they went in." Piper's 15 months slowly tick by, and one of her coping strategies is to take up running and yoga. She would run several miles each day and do stretches when she was stressed out. Just when she had a good groove going and her release was only a few months away, she got the bad news that she had to go to Chicago to testify in a trial against another drug dealer. Piper was angry because she didn't even know the guy on trial, and the prison conditions in Chicago were horrible. For the first time during her incarceration, she called Larry and begged him to get her out of there. Suddenly, Danbury didn't seem so bad. Luckily she survived her stay in Chicago and was finally released. The bio on the bookjacket says Piper is now a vice-president for a communications firm that works with nonprofit organizations. Good for her. If you couldn't tell from all the quotes I included, I loved this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the criminal justice system, or anyone who loves a good memoir.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    First, let me fully admit, that it is my own fault that I thought this was going to be a good book. I failed to pay attention to the title, which essentially screams Sex in the City meets Prison. Instead, I read the subtitle, My Year in a Women's Prison, and imagined that it was an entirely different book - one of substance. I also failed to notice that the cover endorsement quote is from the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Lastly, I work with prisoners, so I am particularly sensitive to inaccurate p First, let me fully admit, that it is my own fault that I thought this was going to be a good book. I failed to pay attention to the title, which essentially screams Sex in the City meets Prison. Instead, I read the subtitle, My Year in a Women's Prison, and imagined that it was an entirely different book - one of substance. I also failed to notice that the cover endorsement quote is from the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Lastly, I work with prisoners, so I am particularly sensitive to inaccurate portrayals of how great they have it and how easy their lives are while hardworking taxpayers are paying for their easy living. What I thought this book was going to be was a memoir by a typical prisoner that would explore the challenges of the criminal justice system through a compelling personal story, not one whose fiance had a website coordinating which friends sent her which books and whose commissary account was always topped off. This book reeked of white, middle class privilege, which the author acknowledges fleetingly. There are glimmers where the author mentions issues like the challenges of reentry or the arbitrariness of rule enforcement in prison, but she utterly fails to take those opportunities to delve deeper, resulting in a candy coated beach read. The author has every right to write about her experience, but it is personally painful to know that this book is out there and that readers will come away thinking that federal prison is a bunch of women decorating the common room for Christmas and finding a way to have lovely Thanksgiving meals together. Who ever thought a book about prison could ever be characterized as a beach read!? I recommend Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett if you are interested in a memoir that addresses real criminal justice reform issues.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is a 2010 Spiegel & Grau publication. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have at least heard of the smash Netflix original series- “Orange is the New Black”. This is the book upon which the series is based. I admit I have have not seen one single episode of television series. I have seen some ads for the show, and based on that I figured it probably wasn't my cup of tea. It looked too silly for my taste. But, while browsing the Overdrive lib Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is a 2010 Spiegel & Grau publication. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have at least heard of the smash Netflix original series- “Orange is the New Black”. This is the book upon which the series is based. I admit I have have not seen one single episode of television series. I have seen some ads for the show, and based on that I figured it probably wasn't my cup of tea. It looked too silly for my taste. But, while browsing the Overdrive library I came across the book and thought “Why not?' Well, the book was nothing like I thought it would be. I as actually taken aback a little bit by it's stark honesty and while it does have some pretty funny moments in it, I was most impressed at Piper's growth as a human being and her courage, taking something from a bad situation and learning life lessons from it. An eye opener, a cautionary tale, interesting and fascinating, this book is not what I was expecting and I am glad I decided to check it out. Recommended to those who enjoy true crime, memoirs and TV tie in books. 4 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    As we always hear, conflict is the essence of interesting drama. I think that's the biggest problem I had with this story-- the author (and publisher) assume that the mere fact that a well educated white girl from a wealthy family will be going to prison is enough drama to float the entire book. They're wrong, but not by much. Kerman's story is rather interesting in the first few chapters, but the crime and arrest lose about 90% of their immediacy because of the crazy ten year delay between them. As we always hear, conflict is the essence of interesting drama. I think that's the biggest problem I had with this story-- the author (and publisher) assume that the mere fact that a well educated white girl from a wealthy family will be going to prison is enough drama to float the entire book. They're wrong, but not by much. Kerman's story is rather interesting in the first few chapters, but the crime and arrest lose about 90% of their immediacy because of the crazy ten year delay between them. Once the arrest and trial phase start, we see that she's gotten a small sentence because of her private lawyer. We see that her fiance, friends, and family all support her to the Nth degree during the entire sentence. We see that she pretty much has enough money during her incarceration to get whatever she wants, that she pretty much gets along with everyone, and never really has any major issues or conflicts during the entire year. Of course, this is pretty much the opposite experience that a vast majority of inmates have in America's prison system. Maybe it would have been more interesting if she'd spent more time really digging and documenting this sort of thing-- even though she occasionally throws in a random prison statistics factoid, and even though she mentions some pretty horrible treatment, it just doesn't seem to really amount to all that much between her Yoga sessions and jogging anecdotes. Without any drama, the book turns into something of a "I did this, and then I did this" sort of story, which had me checking my figurative watch about halfway through. All in all, it deserves the two star "it was OK" rating-- worth reading, but definitely not something that rocked my world. ***** Just as an aside, I continue to be baffled by GOODREADS users who complain about "foul language" in books. For crying out loud, are we children? This is a story about LIFE IN PRISON. People swear in the real world, and I'm guessing they swear in prison. Get a grip.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    So, that was interesting. Not exactly the adjective I would expect to apply to a prison memoir. I rather enjoyed my time listening to this audio, which made Danbury sound like a bit of a sorority. Very unexpected. The author told her version of her story, which ironically often felt light and breezy, giving me the sense that a lot was left out. While telling her story though, she brought up many issues and flaws in our justice system, focusing on the lack of restorative justice, sentencing inequa So, that was interesting. Not exactly the adjective I would expect to apply to a prison memoir. I rather enjoyed my time listening to this audio, which made Danbury sound like a bit of a sorority. Very unexpected. The author told her version of her story, which ironically often felt light and breezy, giving me the sense that a lot was left out. While telling her story though, she brought up many issues and flaws in our justice system, focusing on the lack of restorative justice, sentencing inequality, and poor programming designed to assist prisoners with reentering the world. She did well with humanizing the prisoners and emphasizing the power of human connection. The book, however, ended abruptly and without any epilogue or follow up information regarding those with whom she connected. 3 stars I should add that the narrator was excellent at accents and personification. This added much to the story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    Some people go into therapy, some become artists, others follow a spiritual path to find their true selves. Piper Kerman went to jail instead. Convicted of being a drug courier, a youthful folly she got into when she was enamored of the woman who got her involved with this, she was arrested 10 years after the incident and had to serve over a year in prison. However, she emerged a changed woman: she saw how she had wounded so many people by her recklessness and self-centeredness, saw what drugs h Some people go into therapy, some become artists, others follow a spiritual path to find their true selves. Piper Kerman went to jail instead. Convicted of being a drug courier, a youthful folly she got into when she was enamored of the woman who got her involved with this, she was arrested 10 years after the incident and had to serve over a year in prison. However, she emerged a changed woman: she saw how she had wounded so many people by her recklessness and self-centeredness, saw what drugs had done to women she met in prison, realized that her so-called aloofness and independence was a sham and that connections with others were lifesaving. She was even able to get past her anger at the woman who had betrayed her and to end up forgiving her, as she took responsibility for her own culpability. Above all, this amazing book shows how we humans have the incredible capacity to adapt to extreme situations and often learn valuable lessons in the process.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    So, I haven’t watched the show yet, but I’ve heard so much good stuff about it that I think I got my hopes up way too high for the book. Maybe 2 stars was a little harsh, because I did think it was well written and I found the subject matter interesting. However, I just didn’t like the narrator and had a hard time relating to her (despite her being small, blonde, blue-eyed, educated, runner, etc.). I think she was trying so hard not to sound whiny and condescending that she came across as whiny So, I haven’t watched the show yet, but I’ve heard so much good stuff about it that I think I got my hopes up way too high for the book. Maybe 2 stars was a little harsh, because I did think it was well written and I found the subject matter interesting. However, I just didn’t like the narrator and had a hard time relating to her (despite her being small, blonde, blue-eyed, educated, runner, etc.). I think she was trying so hard not to sound whiny and condescending that she came across as whiny and condescending. The repeated “I can’t believe that someone that looks like you would be in prison” got really old. I mean, she’s not the first white girl to go to jail. And the over-emphasis on how much she loves her husband and how truly amazing he is kinda made me want to vomit (and become rather skeptical) after the millionth time. Anyway, I do think she did a good job showing the deficiencies of the federal prison system without really working a political agenda. I’m curious to see how they turned it into a show…is it funny (because the book’s not)?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    This is a rare book that I didn't like yet it was a good book club selection. Why you ask? Because it sparked a lot of good discussion. I've never seen the show but several friends raved about how wonderful it was, so when I read this book I kept waiting for it to get good and it never happened. Let's dig in...Piper wanted an adventure and her girlfriend point blank told her (up front!) she was in the drug business. Piper didn't flinch at this. Okay, for someone who didn't even dabble in drugs, This is a rare book that I didn't like yet it was a good book club selection. Why you ask? Because it sparked a lot of good discussion. I've never seen the show but several friends raved about how wonderful it was, so when I read this book I kept waiting for it to get good and it never happened. Let's dig in...Piper wanted an adventure and her girlfriend point blank told her (up front!) she was in the drug business. Piper didn't flinch at this. Okay, for someone who didn't even dabble in drugs, seems odd she didn't question that at all. Then, while they are vacationing somewhere, Nora dares Piper to jump off a cliff and says she'll do it too. Piper jumps and Nora tells her she wouldn't have done it if Piper hadn't. Piper comments she should have known at that point not to trust Nora. Um...really Piper? That was the defining moment for you? And after Piper travels around with Nora and her crew essentially sponging off of them for months she is surprised when Nora wants her to be a drug mule. Frankly I'm surprised it took them that long to ask her to pull her weight. When Piper's past catches up with her, she has to tell her boyfriend, family, friends and his family about her secret past. I imagine this was extremely tough for her but it seems very unrealistic that EVERY SINGLE PERSON she told basically said "Well, you were young. People make mistakes, it's okay, we are here for you." Really? No one said they were disappointed in her? Not one person? Maybe I'm shocked because I know my family would not be quite so supportive, but she apparently has the most amazing, dedicated, loving friends/family ever. She is also lucky she had money to hire a good lawyer because her sentence of one year was very short for what she plead guilty for. Onto to her time in prison. I was expecting Piper to develop deep friendships with fellow inmates and learn about fellow inmates lives (this was based on comments I'd heard about the show). I was expecting corruption among the staff, drugs being smuggled in, fighting among the inmates, leaning about how being in prison affected Piper's relationship with her fiance. Maybe I've watched too many tv shows dramatizing prison because I was disappointed that the only time things became heated was over...prepare yourself...salad. No joke. Corruption is mentioned as things she heard had happened but none of it is in this book. In fact, for the most past, the prison staff seemed pretty professional and the inmates got along very well. Apparently it's a rule in prison that you only discuss how much time you are doing, not your crime. Some people may mention what they are in for, but there was not a lot of back story relating to her fellow inmates. In fact, there were a lot of side characters that came and went and it was difficult to keep track of them. Not that it mattered much. Everyone pretty much liked Piper. People tended to hang out with their racial groups but Piper was so cool she could hang with all of them. People were so nice they even greeted her on her first day with little supply gifts. Really, the whole building reminded me of my freshman door. They decorated for the holidays, did yoga daily (DAILY!) and Piper ran miles and miles around the track outside (DAILY!). She even had time to complain about the nice woodland creatures that she saw on the track. She had a job, but it was unclear what the hours were (seemed like she still had a lot of free time to do yoga and run). Her family kept her account stocked so she could buy stuff in the commissary and friends and family sent a constant stream of books (she actually complained she received the same newspaper or magazine twice). She had visitors every week during visitor hours. I realize her prison experience was atypical but it was also pretty boring to read. You may be wondering about Larry? That saint was there every week and there was ZERO TENSION between them. They stayed loyal to each other, no drama. In terms of Piper taking accountability for her crime, yes she plead guilt but I never got the sense she really felt responsible. She mentions one time in the book that she never thought about people actually taking the drugs and getting addicted. She kept saying "10 year old crime" as if it mattered she hadn't been doing anything illegal the last 10 years. Yes, that's true that she wasn't a career criminal but she definitely broke the law and got off on an extremely light sentence. And when she is finally put in a tougher federal facility for a month before testifying (and then being released), she sees Nora and wants to know why she snitched on her. Oh-and in case you didn't catch it, she's blond, pretty, smart and went to Smith. It's mentioned repeatedly throughout the book. The editor should have done a better job with those constant reminders. Finally, I would have loved one more chapter at the end to see how acclimating back to normal life was. Grade: 1/5

  23. 5 out of 5

    Malia

    Having watched some of OITNB without succumbing to its apparent lure, I was skeptical about the book this popular series is based on, added to that, I tend to shy away from non-fiction. However, I come away from it feeling glad to have taken the plunge. Kerman comes across as flawed but thoughtful, and her insight into the prison system here in the US was fascinating and disturbing at once. She tells of her time in prison for a long past offense of her youth, but also of the crimes of many of he Having watched some of OITNB without succumbing to its apparent lure, I was skeptical about the book this popular series is based on, added to that, I tend to shy away from non-fiction. However, I come away from it feeling glad to have taken the plunge. Kerman comes across as flawed but thoughtful, and her insight into the prison system here in the US was fascinating and disturbing at once. She tells of her time in prison for a long past offense of her youth, but also of the crimes of many of her fellow inmates, many of which, as I see it, do not fit the punishment. To be imprisoned for years for actions that may be illegal, but do not cause harm to others, feels harsh, particularly when it means families are broken up, children go without seeing their mothers, etc. I liked the way Kerman conveyed the stories of some of her fellow inmates and friends, which served to damped her undeniably privileged persona upon entering the prison. She also doesn't create drama for the sake of the story, which I appreciated, and the story she tells is far more believable than what is shown in the TV series (though maybe I'm wrong... hopefully not!) I also like the real Piper Kerman much better than the fictionalized one on the show. In any case, I am glad I read this book and would absolutely recommend it to anyone skeptical about dipping their toes into the non-fiction pool, or who is interested in learning more about the US prison system for women. Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tylah Marie

    This was so boring my gosh. Probably because I've already watched the TV show so I definitely had higher expectations but ugh... this took me 8 months to read that's how boring it was. Sigh.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Estelle

    This book really took me by surprise. I honestly thought I wouldn't like it and was ready to give up on it after a few pages, but then, it just suddenly caught my attention and quickly I just couldn't stop listening to it (I highly recommend getting this on audiobook! Memoirs always feel more intimate and true when the author him/herself is reading it to you). "Orange is the New Black" made me laugh, made me cry, most of all it made me feel and think. While the TV series is entertaining, I never This book really took me by surprise. I honestly thought I wouldn't like it and was ready to give up on it after a few pages, but then, it just suddenly caught my attention and quickly I just couldn't stop listening to it (I highly recommend getting this on audiobook! Memoirs always feel more intimate and true when the author him/herself is reading it to you). "Orange is the New Black" made me laugh, made me cry, most of all it made me feel and think. While the TV series is entertaining, I never quite connected with it the way I connected with the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Flannery

    I was hesitant to read this and, in fact, had it on my Kindle for months before I got around to reading it, because I'd heard it wasn't so great. But when I did finally read it, I regretted waiting so long. One of the main criticisms of this book is that Piper never seems apologetic for her crimes. I don't agree with that at all. For one, by the time she went to prison, it's nearly two decades since her crime. Secondly, I wondered throughout the entire book, what is the point of this sentence? I I was hesitant to read this and, in fact, had it on my Kindle for months before I got around to reading it, because I'd heard it wasn't so great. But when I did finally read it, I regretted waiting so long. One of the main criticisms of this book is that Piper never seems apologetic for her crimes. I don't agree with that at all. For one, by the time she went to prison, it's nearly two decades since her crime. Secondly, I wondered throughout the entire book, what is the point of this sentence? It's bizarre to read this and realize the stretch of time between the crime (late 80's), the arrest (1998), and the sentence (2004-2005). She's done her apologizing, over and over, by the time this book was written. She speaks often of her regret for how something that seemed so small-- a reckless young adult bored with middle-class life who gets wrapped up in something exciting before she realizes how deep she is-- has torpedoed not only her life but the lives of her family, her friends, her future husband. She speaks of how unfairly she treated her beloved grandmother by doing something that had her in prison instead of at her deathbed when she died. I didn't see a remorseless princess, I saw a woman who had run out of ways to say "I'm sorry." As for the story itself, no, it's not a gritty look into America's prisons. But it's an interesting study, nonetheless, in learning and adapting to unwritten rules and navigating sticky social hierarchies. As someone who watches way too much Lockup and has read some harder stuff about what goes on, it was refreshing to see that it's not all Shawshank in there.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I feel like I've been reading this book for ages. God, it was so boring. Maybe if I read this book before I watched the show I would have given it a higher rating but regardless, it wouldn't have been much higher because it wasn't a good book. First of all, I did not like Piper. God, she was so irritating and boring. Honestly, all I heard was "wah wah wah I'm in prison but I'm really stoic and I'm perfect and everyone loves me and I get my way because I'm beautiful and blonde and blue-eyed and e I feel like I've been reading this book for ages. God, it was so boring. Maybe if I read this book before I watched the show I would have given it a higher rating but regardless, it wouldn't have been much higher because it wasn't a good book. First of all, I did not like Piper. God, she was so irritating and boring. Honestly, all I heard was "wah wah wah I'm in prison but I'm really stoic and I'm perfect and everyone loves me and I get my way because I'm beautiful and blonde and blue-eyed and everyone loves me and oh that poor "Spanish Mami" gets no letters or visitors but back to me - I get loads of letters and books and visits because everyone loves me but I can't get a radio wah wah wah but everyone still loves me and oh, did I mention EVERYONE loves me!!!" So fair enough, I would complain if I was in prison too but I just couldn't stand her. Maybe it's just the way she wrote herself but her inner monologue was so annoying. She was so self-centred and all she wrote about was herself. When Piper kept to herself the book was so boring. The other characters made the book more interesting but as I already said, Piper didn't really put a lot about other people in there. I realise it's a book about her and her experience in prison but it needed more. The series is much much better. Another thing that disappointed me was the lack of sex and relationships between the girls. I rarely ever read smutty books but I was expecting more sex and relationships in the book. I wouldn't recommend this book. The TV series is very very loosely based on this book. I was expecting it to be more like the series and so I was disappointed. This book had a very very slow pace and when I finished it I was delighted that I was finally done. The writing just didn't grab me and I skimmed a lot. The writing just did not appeal to me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ngan

    I agree with Piper Kerman that women's prisons are not written about as much as men's prisons and that prison in general is a horrible place and shows how prison truly fails to rehabilitate. I liked that Piper Kerman shed some light on how it is within women's prison walls--tight inside rules, terrible governance, dirty showers. I liked her list of resources at the end. What I didn't like about this memoir was how judgmental and superior the author is to her situation. She barely takes responsib I agree with Piper Kerman that women's prisons are not written about as much as men's prisons and that prison in general is a horrible place and shows how prison truly fails to rehabilitate. I liked that Piper Kerman shed some light on how it is within women's prison walls--tight inside rules, terrible governance, dirty showers. I liked her list of resources at the end. What I didn't like about this memoir was how judgmental and superior the author is to her situation. She barely takes responsibility for how her role as a drug mule adds to the cycle of drug distribution and addiction by the very women who land in prison next to her. (Instead, she keeps blaming the government, which, though an accurate charge, is one she uses to divest herself of personal responsibility.) I'll give her credit for acknowledging her role in a couple of sentences, but then she turns around and says people still end up making bad choices in prison (unlike her, of course). Judgment, much? It's prison, there really aren't many choices and as she herself has described, there isn't much in the way of rehabilitating programs. Sadly, not everyone is privileged and has their loving families send them boxes of books and commissary money. I applaud her for shedding light on the issue of women in prison. But that's about it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bark

    3 1/2 stars Listening Length: 11 hours and 14 minutes Version: Unabridged Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell Imagine doing something criminally dumb as an impetuous twenty-something, getting away with it and having it come back to haunt you just when you’ve got it all together? That’s what happened to Piper Kerman. Piper was a young, adventurous college graduate who fell into a lesbian affair with a slightly older woman who was making her money in the drug trade. Piper q 3 1/2 stars Listening Length: 11 hours and 14 minutes Version: Unabridged Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell Imagine doing something criminally dumb as an impetuous twenty-something, getting away with it and having it come back to haunt you just when you’ve got it all together? That’s what happened to Piper Kerman. Piper was a young, adventurous college graduate who fell into a lesbian affair with a slightly older woman who was making her money in the drug trade. Piper quickly realized she was in over her head after Nora asks her to do a job. She does it but breaks it off with Nora soon after. Several years later she has fallen deeply in love with a great guy named Larry and has a respectable job. And that’s when the FBI come knocking. The title, Orange is the New Black, makes it sound like some sort of chick lit novel which it isn’t. This is Piper’s firsthand account of her relatively short (a little over a year) stay in a minimum security prison. It was nothing at all what I was expecting when I picked up this audio. Basically it is clean (with some F-bombs thrown in) and trauma-free; there one almost scuffle and a little pee-pee episode but that’s about as graphic as it gets. Clearly I’ve watched too many scared straight documentaries and sleazy horror films because I was expecting something much rougher. She mentions a few things that were slightly disturbing but they always happen around her, never directly to her. Maybe she was just lucky or maybe she blocked out the ugly stuff? I’ll never know but do have to wonder. Though Piper’s freedom is gone, she never seems in real danger and is almost always surrounded by friendly, nice people who help each other out. The food and surroundings are less than ideal but she gets in killer shape, reads books, has loads of visitors and learns some handyman skills. Not too shabby, if it’s all true. There are a lot of people that come in and out of Piper’s life during her stay and I would've liked to get to know at least a few of them on a deeper level (especially Delicious) but instead Piper focuses more on the details and drudgery of her day to day life inside the prison and her minor epiphanies and thoughts. But what the hell, it is her book. It wasn't boring; don’t get me wrong, it just could have been so much better. I never felt an emotional connection to Piper or the many women in the story which is a shame. She mentions time and again how easy she has it on the outside compared to these women (and she does) and I had to wonder how she was able to fit in so seamlessly. Almost everyone seemed to like her and it didn’t seem realistic that she wouldn’t have more of a struggle considering the culture/personality clash. I did like the fact that Piper wasn't a “poor me” type. If she had been this book would've been a DNF early on. But she knows she screwed up and that it’s no one’s fault but her own. She has to pay the consequences leaving behind her supportive family, friends and fiance and doesn't whine about her situation; instead she makes the best of it and takes notes of many of the injustices inside the prison system. Narrator Cassandra Campbell reads capably. I liked the sound of her voice which was soothing and likable as Piper and many of the other young women but when she’s voicing some of the gruffer and/or older folks, or those with accents, she doesn't always fully succeed. Many of them sound too young or too sweet and not at all like the rough and tumble people many of them surely were. But I can live with that because mainly this is Piper’s story. If you’re at all interested in life inside a minimum security prison you should check this out. The routines, the character interaction and the complex relationships that develop inside the prison were fascinating and parts of it were even funny. I only wish Piper (or perhaps a co-author) had been able to imbue her recollection with the emotion that would have made it memorable.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lane

    I'll Steer Clear of Orange Jumpsuits, Please Prison fascinates and horrifies me. My favorite TV show is Prison Break, so I thought I'd give Orange is the New Black show a try. While the TV show wasn't for me, I'm glad I read this memoir about an upper-middle-class woman who goes to prison for a year. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at a book reading/signing at a women's prison, and she is lovely in real life. Piper Kerman's real-life story chronicling her year in prison is insightful and I'll Steer Clear of Orange Jumpsuits, Please Prison fascinates and horrifies me. My favorite TV show is Prison Break, so I thought I'd give Orange is the New Black show a try. While the TV show wasn't for me, I'm glad I read this memoir about an upper-middle-class woman who goes to prison for a year. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at a book reading/signing at a women's prison, and she is lovely in real life. Piper Kerman's real-life story chronicling her year in prison is insightful and thought-provoking. At times the writing impressed me, like this vivid description: Miss Sanchez had long Frito-chip fingernails painted Barbie pink. There are interesting insights into prison life. Prison is quite literally a ghetto in the most classic sense of the word, a place where the US government not puts not only the dangerous but also the inconvenient--people who are mentally ill, people who are addicts, people who are poor and uneducated and unskilled. Meanwhile, the ghetto in the outside world is a prison as well, and a much more difficult one to escape from. In fact, there is basically a revolving door between our urban and rural ghettos and the formal ghetto of our prison system. My favorite "character" is the Russian wife of a mobster, Pop. Pop is the head cook, and gives invaluable advice to Piper. This story makes the reader inevitably wonder how she would handle imprisonment. I resonated with Piper helping an inmate write a paper. I also would try to fit exercise into my daily routine to stay sane. But really, it's hard to imagine how awful imprisonment would be. The groping from male guards infuriated me: Other male COs were brazen, like the short, red-faced young bigmouth who asked me loudly and repeatedly, "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?" while he fondled my ass and I gritted my teeth. There was absolutely no payoff for filing a complaint. A female prisoner who alleges sexual misconduct on the part of a guard is invariably locked in the SHU in "protective custody", losing her housing assignment, program actives, work assignment, and a host of other prison privileges, not to mention the comfort of her routine and friends. I like how prison statistics (like one out of 100 adults are locked up in the US) are told factually without a preachy tone. I'm also glad Piper mentioned feeling remorse for trafficking drugs--the very drugs that may have been used by her fellow inmates as part of their crimes. I can get behind the decriminalization of drugs for personal use, but I disagree with the notion that drug dealers are never violent. Overall, a good read, and I'm impressed Piper is giving back by teaching writing to prisoners.

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