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** spoiler alert ** I can't explain it but I have a fascination with books and movies about prisons. One of my favorite movies is "The Shawshank Redemption " and one of my favorite places in San Francisco is Alcatraz. The fact that this book is about prison is what interested me. I think I'm in the majority when I say that it starts out strong but frankly, Piper Kerman is a total idiot. Someone who graduated from Smith College should know that anything involving drugs is illegal. What a waste to go through school only to make a stupid decision about her future and then throw it away. Her account of prison life was interesting but after a while it sounded like she was enjoying herself. Apparently prison has gourmet meals, a hair salon, posh showers and bathrooms, TV and movies. The women she discusses don't sound like heroes and she made sure that her readers know that she was the most popular girl around. I tried to read this all the way to the end but after about 150 pages I couldn't take anymore of her description of herself as blonde and blue eyed. She received thousands of books, gifts and letters from those who "loved her". At the end of the book there is a Q & A session and she tells the interviewer how" horrible " prison life is but she makes it sound like a vacation. The book drags on and on and after a while I just had to.stop.
I must say, I prefer the book to what I've learned about the TV series! It's a lot nicer!
At 24 fucking years old you (Piper) should have know that dealing heroin was a fucking stupid thing to do and I have no sympathy for you. The book was mediocre. I have been told the TV series was much better.
The book was decent. I just found it was missing certain things, like more details and I find her writing style cold.
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.)
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!
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)
I particularly liked the Con-Air sequence. Unimaginably terrifying (and terrible) to be in that situation (commercial flights are already bad enough...).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I found this book quite easy to read and finished it relatively quickly. I enjoyed the writing style. It was not too political and focused on the experiences of the author. The show that it is adapted from has a lot more action (for obvious reasons) yet, I still enjoyed the read and would recommend it to others
The book is quite different from the series, at least Season One of the series, which is the season I have watched thus far.
I cannot recall any of the incidents that took place in the book as having occurred in Season One of the series or any of the incidents that took place in the series as having occurred in the book.
The book could have used a “Cast of Characters,” because so many individual float in and out of the story that it's difficult to remember who is who.
Having said all that, I really liked the book.
Contains some elements from the TV show but mostly different. It was fascinating to read about her experience, though. I almost think I like her better than the Piper in the TV show....
there is no emotion in this novel. No heart felt connection from her to us. She recounts her stay in a way that dulls all the awful parts and doesn't finance the good. The characters she claims to be close to are very one sided, no emotion is really shown from them. Maybe its because they had none but thats doubtful.
May 29 2015.....Just finished this book. I really enjoyed it. An eye opener to the prison system in the U.S. (I found it crazy that she had to wait so long for her trial!) I like the way that she points out the difference that money can make. The war on drugs seems to have made not quite the difference that it was meant to make. This book has given me quite a different perspective to think about. I like that......Hey JMFlaherty, I don't have Netflix, but I can order the series from the library! (Of course you are in New York, and so will probably have a much larger waiting list that I have up here in small town Canada!)
Didn't get around to reading this excellent book til 2014. This was, by far, the best book I read all year. Wish I could get Netflix :(
This was not the hard-hitting book I was expecting. Instead, it reveals one well-to-do woman's experience in a seemingly comfy prison. For the most part, she makes prison sound like a sort of vacation in a bad hostel. I wonder how true/representative her experience is to what others experience...?
Overall it was an easy, mildly entertaining biography.
Interesting book. Not sure about all the hype. Will be interesting to see the TV series.
If you are looking for the hyper-drama of the television series, you will be disappointed by this book. However, I found Orange is the New Black readable (even suspenseful) and worthwhile. It is both more nuanced and more positive than the series. Piper Kerman writes well, although there is a certain abstraction, even aloofness, to her style. Perhaps she has restricted her story to a strictly factual recounting so as not to be reminded of the emotional fallout from her stay in prison. Usually Kerman is honest with herself and the audience about her biases, but very occasionally there is a hint of classism, possibly racism, and a whiff of callousness. As another reviewer commented, it is sometimes a little difficult to follow the story because of the multitude of characters who are introduced and the short amount of time spent on each of them...Kerman is not writing in-depth profiles here. The book I would love to read is how the relatively mild-mannered characters Kerman describes in the book were transmuted into the drama queens of the television series...was there any factual basis for the stories of the individual women in the series, for instance? Was research done in addition to the descriptions provided in Kerman's work? Kerman's book isn't so much a primer or a guidebook to life on the inside as a very general travelogue.