Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black

My Year in A Women's Prison

Book - 2011
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When the author was sent to prison for a ten-year-old crime, she barely resembled the reckless young woman she had been when she committed the misdeeds that would eventually catch up with her. Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, she was suddenly forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking. She spent thirteen months in prison, eleven of them at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, where she met a surprising and varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances. 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. Here she tells the story of those long months locked up in a place with its own codes of behavior and arbitrary hierarchies, where a practical joke is as common as an unprovoked fight, and where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated. This is a look into the lives of women in prison; why we lock so many away and what happens to them when they are there.
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2011.
Edition: 2011 Spiegel & Grau trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9780385523394
Characteristics: 327 pages ; 21 cm


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Dec 07, 2017

The book was decent. I just found it was missing certain things, like more details and I find her writing style cold.

Aug 07, 2017

After watching the phenomenal show, I had to go back to the source material, Piper Kerman's synonymous memoir. It's markedly different from the series, more serious but not boring or hard-faced. The show takes from the reality described here but sometimes smudges the details, dispersing events to whichever prisoner it suits best. The show-to-book comparisons aside, this novel is incredibly honest or so it feels to me as a reader. I believe every word, like a confession between close friends. What gets me most about ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK is how Kerman crafts each sentence with painstaking precision. She uses beautiful evocative language to describe a dark and dim scenario. She never stutters, always choosing the perfect word to explain. You feel like you're there. Just like the Netflix streaming series, I'm absorbed. (Please note that, although centered on a women's prison, the book and the series will and do appeal to men. Don't feel pushed out. The show isn't here to spout gender rules.) For any reader who wants their eyes pulled open and their hair blown back, I recommend this articulate memoir and scathing expose' of the American prison system ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. (And certainly don't forget about the series.)

Jul 04, 2016

I greatly enjoyed this book! I watched the show and was curious how it compared so I read the book. Although very different, I loved the book even more as it felt more real. I definitely recommend it to anyone, especially if you love the show!

Jun 07, 2016

Since I fell in love with the series on Netflix I wanted to read the book to more fully understand the whole story. The series stays true to the book only to a certain extent. The book is rich with detail and describes Piper's entire journey. I loved how much she was willing to admit, and how well she describes everyone. She was brutally honest and it was refreshing to read. A must read if you love the series! (Plus it's fun to go back and rewatch to see what they incorporated from the book and in what ways)

Jun 01, 2016

I particularly liked the Con-Air sequence. Unimaginably terrifying (and terrible) to be in that situation (commercial flights are already bad enough...).

Apr 07, 2016

Having enjoyed the TV series - Orange is the new Black –I checked out the book which I thought would be a minor adjunct to the series, only to discover that it was a wondrous entity itself. It is a very thought provoking story of a Smith College graduate sentenced to prison in America's overzealous war on drugs. It is so sad to read a first person account of the miserable cruel and sadistic behavior of the correctional officers.

She points out that with only 5% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the world’s imprisoned people. The abject depravity of the system of police, courts and prisons leads to the daily tally of murder and misery that we see in the news.
It is wonderful that Piper Kerman was able to remain unbroken and achieve fame in revealing the horrors of her incarceration.

Chapel_Hill_KatieJ Jan 22, 2016

Piper Kerman begins her memoir by describing the flight she took where she smuggled drug money across borders. She discusses how she was intrigued by her jet-setting girlfriend, and was ultimately drawn into the drug trade. She goes to Federal prison for this crime a decade later. At first she believes her case is unusual, but she begins to relate to the other prisoners. There are a few political statements about the effects of the War on Drugs, the inconsistencies in sentencing, and the unequal conditions of different prisons. Mostly Kerman describes her life in prison with some humor and a lot of self-reflection.

Oct 27, 2015

This isn't a fiction book, so don't expect it to match events in the TV series -- although you can see how some of the characters (e.g., Pops, Pornstach) evolved. More of an inside look at different flavours of the federal prison system in the US, and what incarceration does to -- but certainly not for -- the inmates. Well worth the read.

Oct 16, 2015

Most readers would likely read this story after seeing the TV series of the same name and might expect to learn about more salacious and violent acts. This is not the case at all. Nevertheless it is well-worth reading for an understanding of what life really is like for incarcerated women, to learn about real friendships based upon shared losses and to consider exactly what it is that society wants to accomplish by imprisonment. Kerman and most of the other women were jailed for non-violent drug crimes, part of the “War on Drugs.” While admitting to her lapse into crime and taking full responsibility for her actions, she questions the propriety of jail time for these women, given that demand for drugs makes the supply inevitable and highly profitable.
I highly recommend reading this for all the strata of society, law enforcement, law makers and especially the young and vulnerable who may not like the laws on the books but must learn the hard lesson of taking personal account for one’s actions.

Sep 17, 2015

Terrific story about how one woman got caught up in the wrong end of the law by her own carelessness, and how she became an advocate for prison reform in the process. There are too many books about life in men's prisons but relatively few about what it is like for females behind bars. The long wait for a trial does make a mockery of the concept of a speedy trial, even if the author did get a plea bargain for her testimony against others. The title itself speaks volumes about how insane the incarceration system has become in America.

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Aug 07, 2017

"No one who worked in 'corrections' appeared to give any thought to the purpose of our being there, any more than a warehouse clerk would consider the meaning of a can of tomatoes, or try to help those tomatoes understand what the hell they were doing on the shelf."

Aug 07, 2017

"Stoicism sure comes in handy when they take away your underpants."

Aug 07, 2017

"I shushed her and patted the blond curls she was so proud of, and inside I grieved angrily over the insanity of locking up children, and then returning them to neighborhoods that were more desperate and dangerous than jails."

Oct 27, 2015

Great institutions have leaders who are proud of what they do, and who engage with everyone who makes up those institutions, so each person understands their role. But our jailers are generally granted near-total anonymity, like the cartoon executioner who wears a hood to conceal his identity. What is the point, what is the reason, to lock people away for years, when it seems to mean so very little, even to the jailers who hold the key? How can a prisoner understand their punishment to have been worthwhile to anyone, when it's dealt in a way so offhand and indifferent? [pg 293]


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Jul 14, 2014

ErinMWilson thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jun 05, 2014

rima_gabrielle thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Nov 26, 2013

DellaV thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 17 and 99


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Jul 27, 2016

Piper goes into jail for crimes that was 10 years ago. She speaks of her and the inmates experiences in the prison.


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