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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 (3688 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 07-30-13
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 07-30-13 Member Since 2009

    Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit

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    "Real Housewives of Club Fed"

    I read the other reviews saying this book was weak and not representative of an actual prison experience, yet I listened to someone who insisted that the TV show is so awesome the book had to be too. Unfortunately it turned out to be a mistake - I'm thinking of asking for my credit back. This fairy tale version of prison the author was incarcerated in sounds a lot like juvenile detention - with grandmas baking treats and older women mentoring and protecting new inmates. Almost zero violence, little profanity,hot showers, gyms, almost unlimited visits, books & movies..... seriously - laundering money might well be worth it if this is the only punishment - a year in time out at "Camp" (not kidding - that's what they call it). I'm thinking this book is better suited to those who think those "50 Shades of" books are scandalous & edgy.

    50 of 69 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claire 07-31-13
    Claire 07-31-13
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    "Actually nothing much happens here"
    Would you try another book from Piper Kerman and/or Cassandra Campbell?

    I'd listen to Cassandra, but I think I'd rather not try another book by Piper


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Well, its a biography so unless it was fiction you can't really change the fact that prison is prison


    Did Cassandra Campbell do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Yes, voice inflection and characterizations


    Did Orange Is the New Black inspire you to do anything?

    Nope.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are expecting some action like in the series on Netflix you will be sorely disappointed. I don't really care for this book because it fizzled out in the end. There just wasn't much to talk about once Piper was off to testify and it should have ended before that or after she got home. I'd like to know how she adjusted to life on the outside, but we don't get any of that and I don't think I'd read a whole book about it...so that leaves me at an fork in the road. I think that Piper writes well, but her over effusive love of family and Larry got a little bit silly. She does understand that she is a privileged white chick and that is admirable.

    15 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelfish IL, United States 09-22-14
    Shelfish IL, United States 09-22-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Engaging and Eye Opening"
    Any additional comments?

    This was my first peek into the life lead by people in prison. The story was wonderfully told and very easy to listen to. It's impossible to put down, compelling and eye opening. It really opened my eyes about acceptance and compassion towards others. The author's main character, Piper, never judges or makes excuses. It really made me take a good look at myself. The author did a remarkable job of putting me in that prison with those women. It is a book I will never forget.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TM 08-08-14
    TM 08-08-14

    TJM

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    "Enjoyable - Different from the Show"
    Any additional comments?

    First off, the book is quite a bit different from the Netflix show. It is much less sexual and less comedic (although there are funny bits).

    It was well written and engaging and it was a worthwhile inside look at life in a Federal women's prison.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 08-01-14
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 08-01-14 Member Since 2013

    I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?

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    "Yea, Not so Much"

    This book was pretty boring throughout. Nothing like the series as many other reviewers have pointed out. Piper's self centered style is dry and matter of fact. I found it hard to make it all the way to the end of this book; I kept loosing focus. Not so good.

    5 of 7 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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 06-25-14
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 06-25-14 Member Since 2008

    Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Like a year-long slumber party!"

    I have mixed feelings about the author, but the book held my interest all the way through and the narration was very well done. Thus, I gave it 4 stars over all.

    Lucky for me, I have not yet watched the Netflix TV show by the same name, so I have nothing with which to compare this audiobook or to disappoint me. Besides, TV and movies often "enhance" a book's content to such an extent that it is difficult to compare them in the best of circumstances.

    Some of the things that bothered me are the following. Piper always came across as the spoiled, advantaged, pretty girl. She began whining about the prison conditions from day one, when she missed her fiance and her friends unbearably. For cripes sake, she wasn't even there for 24 hours! And after all, her crimes were only committed to satisfy a need for cheap thrills. Incongruent with her frequent indignance about the unfair treatment and unpleasant conditions in prison were the descriptions of all the fun she had--making cheesecake, having pedis, visiting the lake, making new friends. Even more puzzling was her constant need to pat herself on the back--for making so many friends, having so many visitors, being so well-loved by just about everyone.

    On the other hand, I really did enjoy Piper's story. I was surprised and happy to learn that there was so little violence in a women's prison--is her experience really typical? And it was interesting to get an inside picture of the often mundane day-to-day existence of prison life. I just wish she had added a small bit about life after prison and some follow-ups on her prison girlfriends. Puzzling how the book ended so abruptly. It felt a bit incomplete.

    1 of 1 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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 06-05-14
    Tim United States 06-05-14 Member Since 2011

    My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.

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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?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Lilburn, GA, United States 06-02-14
    Jennifer Lilburn, GA, United States 06-02-14 Member Since 2009

    TzuMom in ATL

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    "Kind of dry, really"

    I have to say I was disappointed with this book. I watched the NetFlix TV series first season and am, admittedly, on the edge of my seat for the second season to start this coming Friday, but this is one of the very few books I have to say I enjoyed the big screen version much better! The story is really quite dry, and really quite mild, considering it's a prison story. I have known people in prison. Granted, the people I have known weren't at Danbury minimum security, so I realize that the violent stories I've heard couldn't compare. But this book practically makes the whole thing out to be like an extended summer camp! (Spoiler alert) When she's transferred briefly to another prison, then it starts to feel a little more realistic, but still much milder than what I expected. When the show says it's "based" on this book, they aren't kidding! It's VERY *loosely* "based" on this book. I often found myself wondering as I was listening how anyone even thought to themselves, "Gee, I bet this would make a great television show!" and then took the time to seek out the proper people to bring that to fruition. I'm glad they did... Because I will continue to watch the show! :) Long story short, if you have seen the show, stick with the show. If you haven't, by all means, check it out! But I would leave the book behind.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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