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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

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  •  
    Kimberly SAN DIEGO, CA, United States 12-05-13
    Kimberly SAN DIEGO, CA, United States 12-05-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Loved It"
    What made the experience of listening to Orange is the New Black the most enjoyable?

    interesting story and narrator's voice fits well with the content


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Orange is the New Black?

    When Nina left and Piper realized she was forming real friendships in jail


    Which character – as performed by Cassandra Campbell – was your favorite?

    Piper


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl United States 11-24-13
    Carl United States 11-24-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Don't Expect This To Be the Series on Netflix"

    At times interesting, but not nearly as captivating as the Netflix Series. The series is terrific, but the book is only OK. The narration by Ms. Campbell is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SJ tybee island, GA, United States 11-21-13
    SJ tybee island, GA, United States 11-21-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Good story"
    Any additional comments?

    It was interesting. The main character is annoying as it seems she views herself as a real rebel, street wise person; instead she seems to be an over indulged, spoiled brat with an uptown education. And although she occasionally takes responsibility, she also seems to blame the system for being too hard on people who do crimes like hers. I found her unlikeable in many ways but it was a good story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Lake Havasu City, AZ, United States 11-19-13
    Debbie Lake Havasu City, AZ, United States 11-19-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Excellent!"

    I debated for months about getting this book because of some of the reviews saying it portrayed prison life as "fun" - I couldn't disagree more. The author was very honest about being afraid of most everyone constantly, learning what could get you in trouble with other inmates, the lack of edible food (except what could be stolen from the kitchen & cooked in one communal microwave without getting caught), strip searches after every visitation, the lack of privacy & any comforts. Some things could be purchased from commissary for about 100 times the actual cost, if you had money. Working could pass the time at 14 cents/hour, otherwise there's no freedom to do anything. I can't imagine living that way for even a month.

    The author was very honest about how she ended up in a federal prison & even if you don't think you could be lured into a situation like that, no one really knows, especially in your 20's, - and the fact that she was arrested 10 years later is very scary, after she got her life on track & thought she'd avoided any serious consequences for her poor decisions. I thought this book was very eye-opening about life in a federal prison. The excellent narration added to the experience.

    I for one appreciate my life even more, just being able to go to the refrigerator any time I want to grab a snack, to shower when I want, dress in my own clean clothes, sleep in a bed between the sheets instead of on top of the sheet, and to watch TV whenever I want. Well worth the credit!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Vancouver, BC, Canada 11-18-13
    Julie Vancouver, BC, Canada 11-18-13 Member Since 2013

    I'm a writer and a yoga teacher with a Masters in English Literature.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating and Entertaining"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely, I think it's a great read for anyone. It seems like women might particularly like it because it holds such a diversity of women's stories within it. Kerman manages to offer these stories totally without judgement. It's a fun read, but also educational.


    What other book might you compare Orange is the New Black to and why?

    I don't think I can compare it with anything. Who has written a memoir about being in a women's prison? More women's stories need to get told, and Kerman does it well!


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

    I'm not sure, since I didn't read the book and enjoy so much listening while I walk my dog or commute. Her voice sounded very authentic and relatable, and the feeling was almost like listening to a best friend tell her stories over a glass of wine.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    I may be mixing it up with the TV show which I also love, but in general just the range of experiences women can have and end up in prison. That it's not necessarily a terrible dark void place, but that you can make a life, get used to an experience and be in it with a community of other people you may never have thought to spend time with. That women can be allies in all kinds of situations.


    Any additional comments?

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It made me think I should read more memoirs!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tina Ozark, MO, United States 11-13-13
    Tina Ozark, MO, United States 11-13-13
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    "The audio was masterfull!"
    What did you love best about Orange is the New Black?

    The audio was great. I really loved the reader


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Left me not wondering about what happens next to the rich girl


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    Her inflections were great and she really made me feel like I was listening to Piper. She was really great.


    If you could give Orange is the New Black a new subtitle, what would it be?

    A rich girl breaks the law


    Any additional comments?

    The whole book was just a long love letter to her boyfriend and family. It is a story about a rich girl who knowingly breaks the law and then used her pen to write about not only her love for her fiance but a litany of complaints about the judicial system. Her complaints fell on these deaf ears because she is a felon. A felon who chose to perform her crime(s). There was really nothing interesting that happened to her, while she only told us of all the good she did for others in prison. She was an angel in jail. Just so long as she can keep ON telling her boyfriend what an angel she was in prison - she has a reason to write this pretty boring book. I made it all the way through though. #phew

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Montgomery, AL, United States 11-04-13
    Dan Montgomery, AL, United States 11-04-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Not comparable to Netflix show"
    Would you recommend Orange Is the New Black to your friends? Why or why not?

    If you are listening to it because you like the Netflix show than you might be somewhat bored. They obviously hyped up almost every story line in the Netflix show so the book is very mundane by comparison. It is well written and somewhat interesting but it got somewhat repetitive after a while.


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    The reading performance is very good.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara A. Drescher CA United States 11-03-13
    Barbara A. Drescher CA United States 11-03-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Well-written, but lacking in real insight"
    Would you try another book from Piper Kerman and/or Cassandra Campbell?

    Not likely from Piper Kerman, but yes to Cassandra Campbell.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Piper Kerman again?

    If she wrote some fiction, I might be interested, but I have no interest in a memoir by her.


    Which character – as performed by Cassandra Campbell – was your favorite?

    It's tough to choose. Campbell did some great voices. I guess Pop was the best.


    Do you think Orange Is the New Black needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. Its story has a beginning, middle, and end. The characters are not very well fleshed-out, so nobody would be interested in what happened to them afterward. There's just nothing to follow up on.


    Any additional comments?

    First, let me say that fans of the Netflix series will be disappointed if they expect the story to be anything at all like the show. This is a memoir, not dramatic fiction. Many of the characters bear a passing resemblance to people described in the book and there are a few details which transferred nicely (e.g., the pudding from Desert Storm), but the story of Piper Chapman barely resembles Piper Kerman's.

    I was disappointed in the book for two reasons. First, I had hoped that Kerman would tell the other women's stories. She doesn't. In most cases, we don't even know why they are incarcerated and aren't given enough information about appearance to visualize them. She talks about these women as if they were close friends, but there isn't enough detail for readers to get to know these people or to care about them.

    Second, which is probably tied to the first point, the book is rather self-indulgent, without revealing much about Kerman that makes us care about her. She has nothing but praise for the people she likes and loves, which is unrealistic and makes those people seem flat. She says that takes responsibility for what she did, but complains so much about mandatory minimum sentences that it almost negates the remorse. I will give her this: at one point late in the book she does talk about seeing the effects of drugs on the live's of so many others (fellow inmates) and appears to be sincere in her regret.

    Kerman's complaints of prison life are sometimes offensive in the sense that she seems to expect prison to be more like a vacation. Although I understand that reform should be an objective and I was appalled to read about how little the system did to prepare these women for release, there are many complaints about daily life which come off as whiny and seemingly ignore the fact that prison is not supposed to be pleasant.

    All of that said, it's a fairly short read with a few interesting insights if you can get through all of the less-than-believable, "Oh, everyone was so great" stuff without vomiting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mindy Boynton Beach, FL, United States 10-27-13
    Mindy Boynton Beach, FL, United States 10-27-13 Member Since 2013
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    15
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    "Amazing peek into the penal system"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, it was fascinating. I can see why they turned it into a television series.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Knowing it was based on a true story.


    Have you listened to any of Cassandra Campbell’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erica oceanside, CA, United States 10-22-13
    Erica oceanside, CA, United States 10-22-13
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    "Great Narrator! Interesting insight"
    What made the experience of listening to Orange Is the New Black the most enjoyable?

    the narrator and her flawless depiction of all the accents.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    pop, the russian mob wife in charge of the kitchen. she's runs the place in so many ways and makes her time worth something of value to her. she's strong and has authority in a place where that doesnt exist for the women.


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    amazing. i have had to stop listening to good books because of the narrator. but she delivered it perfectly.


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

    yes and no. it wasnt a gripping story, or nearly as interesting as the show, no cliff hangers. But a well documented book depicting life as it is. Although its hard to keep all the characters straight


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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