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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 (2261 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Claire Granite Bay, CA, United States 07-31-13
    Claire Granite Bay, CA, United States 07-31-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    14 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 06-25-14
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 06-25-14 Member Since 2008
    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 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Amazon Customer East Hartford, CT, United States 06-04-14
    Amazon Customer East Hartford, CT, United States 06-04-14 Member Since 2010

    Not a writer, a writer wannabe, editor, lit maj, or pretend literary critic. Just an avid reader/listener. My ratings are opinion only.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pauline englewood, CO, United States 05-21-14
    Pauline englewood, CO, United States 05-21-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring"
    What would have made Orange is the New Black better?

    I had higher expectations of a funny and racy story (based on the TV show) and I thought that the book would have more stories beyond what they would show on TV but man was this book boring. Nothing really stood out and the story was lacking.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Piper Kerman again?

    Probably not.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The reader was clear and didn't really smack their lips when they talked like other readers. Too bad the story was boring.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    lack of fulfillment. fell like I wasted a few hours on this.


    Any additional comments?

    Like I said, it you love the cheeky and crude laughs from the TV show, don't read the book. Keep watching the show because it is more entertaining. If you want to know the real story, then read the book. I personally just did not like it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DeeJay gardnerville, NV, United States 02-15-14
    DeeJay gardnerville, NV, United States 02-15-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Too many characters, not enough remorse."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Prisoners may enjoy this book.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Piper Kerman again?

    No


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration was good.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The only redeeming quality is that writter found some remorse from her actions. She never fully expressed the damage and turmoil her actions caused others, let alone the cost to American taxpayers.


    Any additional comments?

    It was difficult to warm up to this book. With 25+ characters lacking adequate personality or background, the only person one could relate to was Piper Kerman. Although she testifies of her miserable experiences in prison, it sounds more like CLUBFED to me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Richmond, TX, United States 09-09-13
    Susan Richmond, TX, United States 09-09-13 Member Since 2011

    This is my granddaughter's picture! She is my love.

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    "Prison isn't so bad"

    This was a pretty good story, but I think I expected more darkness and being frightened. Actually, I wasn't frightened for Piper and I think she met some nice people. Funny being in prison, she actually met friends for life. They cooked, they had parties, they cried and laughed. This makes prison seem friendly.
    One part of this story that angered me about this story is she committed a crime that was minor in the world of crime. Ten years later she accepted a plea bargain to avoid a long prison term. That is one of the problems of our court system; the prosecutors are determined to convict people and would do anything including threats of 20 years for trial or 18 months for a plea.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mediamaverick Seattle, WA 08-08-13
    Mediamaverick Seattle, WA 08-08-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved the book and performance"
    Would you listen to Orange Is the New Black again? Why?

    Prompted to listen after watching series on Netflix. Needless to say they bear only slight resemblance to one another but both excellent. What I took away most from this memoir was the humanity of those incarcerated and the utter failure that is the U.S. prison system.

    Well worth listening to. Campbell's narration adds another layer of nuance and empathy as the prisoners' stories unfold. Overall a moving and thought-provoking experience.


    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    marion Euless, TX, United States 08-04-13
    marion Euless, TX, United States 08-04-13 Member Since 2010

    raen5171

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hmmmm"
    What did you like best about Orange Is the New Black? What did you like least?

    The story is very interesting, the background of how she ended up in prison. I felt that where there should have been more story it just stopped and started something else, some what disjointed


    Would you recommend Orange Is the New Black to your friends? Why or why not?

    Probably


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

    Yes


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheila Saline, MI, United States 07-27-13
    Sheila Saline, MI, United States 07-27-13 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A worthwhile autobio, don't expect the TV series."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Orange Is the New Black to be better than the print version?

    I don't have an opinion on this. I have not read the print version.


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

    When the fellow inmate was talking to Piper about God and how that made her think differently about herself and why she was in prison.


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

    She did really well with the accents and intonations. Probably the only authentic Boston accent ever recorded in an audiobook. It was a very challenging book for accents (Russian, Hispanic, Black etc.)


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

    The process of her trial! It was ten years from the time she was involved in the criminal activity and when she finally went to prison. It was also interesting how the inmates did not talk to each other about why they were in prison with each other.


    Any additional comments?

    I watched a couple of episodes of the Netflix show and saw the book. This is completely different from the show, but in a good way. The author is articulate, insightful and compassionate. She has an amazing circle of friends, family members and of course, Larry. She comes to terms with how her involvement in the criminal group was not a victimless crime, even though she was not directly involved in the drug transactions. The show makes it seem like rich white girl gets sent to prison with a bunch of tough, abrasive non-rich, mostly non-white inmates, but the story in the book is not about that; it is more inward looking and compassionate. It is the story one would want to tell about one's self and one's loved ones, well written and detailed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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