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Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison | [Piper Kerman]

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison

With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money 10 years ago. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to 15 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 women who disappear "down the rabbit hole" of the American penal system.
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Publisher's Summary

With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money 10 years ago. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to 15 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 women 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, where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated. 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, Orange is the New Black 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.

©2010 Piper Kerman (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Fascinating....The true subject of this unforgettable audiobook is female bonding and the ties that even bars can't unbind." (People)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (4047 )
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  •  
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 03-31-14
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 03-31-14 Member Since 2013

    I spend 90+ minutes a day in my car, Audible makes it enjoyable regardless of what's happening in traffic. My taste varies from endurance fitness to economics and from to combat stories and romance novels.

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    "My favorite book of the year, so far"

    Admittedly, I was looking for something a little edgier when I first picked it up. After walking in on my wife watching the TV series by the same name and overhearing some discussion of lesbian prison sex, I figured this might be a fun and naughty read. I was wrong and I'm so glad. It had none of that. What it had was an honest, sincere ownership for her past transgressions, an accounting for what brought her to that point, an expression of every emotions she had on her trip into, through and out of the federal prison system, and the people who helped her make it through it all. I haven't enjoyed a book this much since The Art of Racing in the Rain. Everything about this book drips sincerity to me and as a result, I followed along with her highs and lows, her daily routine, and the things that helped her get through the day.

    35 of 38 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 04-01-14
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 04-01-14 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "Orange Obsession for me!"

    From the first moment listening to this audio I was HOOKED! A fascinating topic told in a totally engaging way by an amazing narrator I could not stop listening. To make matters worse I "binge watched" the Netfix series at the same time. I was on "Orange Overload". Piper Kerman's experience in a minimum security woman's prison is told with honesty and sensitivity. She did not consider herself a victim and was quite open about what she had done and how she came to understand herself, her crime and her life choices.She describes life in prison, from the basics of survival ie: food, showers, clothing, work assignments, guards, etc to the intimate friendships she made. She describes how through rituals, humor and support they helped each other make life bearable and have some meaning in such a difficult environment. She also describes how the sentence affects the families of women in prison,especially those with children and few resources. The book is quite a bit different than the series which certainly deviates from the story to make it Hollywood friendly. I was happy and sad when it ended. I enjoyed living in Piper's world from the comfort of my own home, during my "Orange Obsessed" week but I was glad to get back to my own life, because I literally couldnt stop listening!

    25 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. J. Kaltenbaugh Pittsburgh, PA 08-06-13
    E. J. Kaltenbaugh Pittsburgh, PA 08-06-13 Member Since 2013
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    "The Book is NOT Like the TV Show (but I liked it)"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I had heard so much about the TV series but I wanted to "read" the book first. I finished the book, then I watched the first episode of the series. Wow! They are nothing alike! I enjoyed the book a lot, although at times it seemed like a bunch of little stories that just ended, with no connection to each other. Overall though, I still enjoyed it. The connections Piper made and the relationships she formed were very interesting and touching.

    The thing I LIKED about the book is that it had a lot of serious social commentary about the American judicial and penal systems. I saw none of that in the TV series. It seemed like they took the basic premise of the book and re-wrote it as a black comedy for TV. If you're looking for comedy you'll probably be disappointed in the book.

    I agree with other readers... I was disappointed that it didn't follow up with her life after prison. I was eager to find out if she kept in touch with any of her prison friends. I guess maybe she's saving that for the sequel? Also, the writing wasn't a masterpiece but the subject matter kept my interest and I was always anxious to hear the next chapter.


    What does Cassandra Campbell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I liked Cassandra's dramatization of the different characters in the book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The part where the guard took Piper to the lake was memorable.


    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly 07-18-13
    Holly 07-18-13
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    "Humorous, Intelligent, and Introspective"
    What did you love best about Orange Is the New Black?

    Orange Is the New Black is an eye opening account of the American prison system. The first person point of view gives the reader an intimate and intelligent look at the institution.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Piper never looses her wry sense of humor. There are laugh out loud moments of interactions with the other inmates. She turns a bad situation into introspective personal revelation. In the end she gains a touching sense of humanity.


    What does Cassandra Campbell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I can absolutely imagine Piper Kerman sounding exactly like Ms. Cambell. Her affectations of characters and attitudes are spot on.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, and I almost did.


    Any additional comments?

    Piper Kerman's memoir brings to light important issues about the American judicial system and the disturbing lack of access to successful rehabilitation for inmates.

    21 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harriet Kill Devil Hills, NC, United States 06-29-14
    Harriet Kill Devil Hills, NC, United States 06-29-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A Total Waste of Time"

    This was a very boring book with no plot. I guess you can call it Piper's diary.
    I had heard that the series was good so I bought the book. This is definitely one time where the book was not better than the series. This was grueling.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer East Hartford, CT, United States 06-04-14
    Amazon Customer East Hartford, CT, United States 06-04-14 Member Since 2012

    I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.

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    "meh"

    A friend strongly recommended this book, describle it as laugh out loud funny. Not really, but it wasn't horrible. The author sends very mixed messages on the topic of drugs, incarceration and being a spoiled rich kid.

    I don't imagine any incarceration to be pleasant, however, I suspect her time would largely be described as easy compared to state facilities.

    The book is a little self serving, but not bad for a deal of the day sale purchase.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Johnnie Walker Blaine, WA 06-23-12
    Johnnie Walker Blaine, WA 06-23-12 Member Since 2014

    Black

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    "Sadly Incomplete"
    Any additional comments?

    Piper had "advantages" going into prison - an incredible support system and a relatively short sentence. However, I am haunted by concern for some of her cell mates - good women who helped Piper through her year and also made her a stronger woman. Without being preachy, the author makes a very strong argument for the waste of money and human resources our prison system has become. Prison is neither a deterrent nor a fitting punishment for many of those incarcerated. For their jailers, it has become the substitute for the industrial jobs that have gone overseas. Everyone loses.

    67 of 81 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 06-05-14
    Tim United States 06-05-14 Member Since 2011

    Putting books on the back burner.

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    "Women's Retreat"

    Piper Kerman's experience of being in prison in "Orange is the New Black" is like going to a women's retreat. Instead of being scare straight, her interpretation of being in prison is so delightful, where I would like to go. Movie nights, cheese cakes, mani pedi, yoga? Where do I sign up? Let's not forget that everyone is your friend and you can eat as much as you want on your birthday.

    I'm being sarcastic, but if you want to scare your rebel teenager on what it's like being lock up, make them watch "Lockup" on MSNBC. Don't give them this book. They would want to go to prison to have a makeover and have a good time. Not really sure if the author really got locked up because she makes jail to be a field of flowers. Why would anyone want to leave?

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RaisinNut PA, USA 10-06-12
    RaisinNut PA, USA 10-06-12 Member Since 2011

    Making the world better one review at a time.

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    "Makes prison seem like fun!"
    Any additional comments?

    After reading this book, *I* want to spend a year in a women's minimum security prison. If you believe Piper Kerman, women's prison is little more than non-stop female bonding, letter writing, creative cooking and having lots of time to exercise. Who wouldn't want to go to prison? Aside from the occasional strip search, it seems like a nice break from the responsibilities of regular life.

    When I purchased this book I was expecting to get a glimpse into a darker and more troubling world than the one Kerman describes. I guess I'll have to wait for the book about a year in a women's *maximum* security prison. I just don't plan on being the one to write it!

    48 of 62 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Haverhill, MA, United States 06-21-14
    William Haverhill, MA, United States 06-21-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Meh."
    Any additional comments?

    I'm a big fan of the Netflix series so I figured I'd pick up the actual book to accompany my viewing experience. I did so fully expected the book to be very different as any sensible person would.
    The performance and storyline were okay, but I have never read a biography where the author was more in love with themselves than this one. After a short initial apology to everyone in her family and circle of friends for what she has put them through in the first few chapters the book, the story then dives head first into an endless cycle of self congratulatory self-love the likes of which I have rarely seen. Every chapter is designed to highlight how absolutely great Piper is, from how blown away the inmates are by how many more gifts and packages she receives than anyone else in the prison because she is so beloved by all, to how many people are amazed that someone as beautiful as she is wound up in prison, to how almost every character tells her how they never thought they would ever meet a friend as amazing as she is in prison, even when she discusses someone else's positive qualities it all boils down to then crying over the fact that Piper was able to see said trait within them....its strictly written to be a nonstop pat on the back from start to finish. Not to mention how she portrays the prison as an endless series of villains....I'm sorry Piper but you DID break the law and you were there to be punished end of story, at no time was it meant to feel like some high end hotel. I'll still watch the show but I've personally found a new level of disgust for the actual real life Piper Kerman.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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