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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 (4494 )
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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.

    52 of 71 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Tucker, GA, United States 07-26-13
    Angela Tucker, GA, United States 07-26-13
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    "Not at ALL like the series"

    I saw the series before I realized it was a book. After knowing there was a book, I excitedly hurried to Audible to download, I couldn't WAIT to start it! While this account of Piper Kerman's experience in a minimum security prison was extremely interesting and enlightening, it was NOTHING like the series. The only similarity between book and series is the fact that the main character's name is Piper. Just about every scene played out in the book never happens in the series and even the parts that match up, don't match up entirely. Even the characters are different, with the exception of Pop (in the book, Red in the series). I can see why though; the book, while very intriguing makes for poor TV drama. I enjoyed both the book and series, but the series was by far much hotter ;)

    25 of 34 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 5 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 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pauline 05-21-14
    Pauline 05-21-14 Member Since 2013
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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.

    4 of 5 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.

    16 of 22 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.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Knight Nashville, TN USA 03-05-14
    D. Knight Nashville, TN USA 03-05-14 Member Since 2012

    romans55

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    "Prison is boring....."
    Any additional comments?

    I almost stopped in the middle of this but decided to press on to the end. Bottom line: All American girl mingles with the common folk in a women's prison. Sorry to say I found this quite dull...as most of prison life probably is and passing the time can be less than interesting. I also did not like her political leanings about the prison system, but she is entitled to her opinion. It just made a book I didn't like even less attractive. I can't believe this is such a big deal. I am not sure what people are laughing at because I saw little humor in the book. Perhaps those who have binge-watched the series might find the book more humorous. I now have no interest in the series.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erica United States 07-22-13
    Erica United States 07-22-13 Member Since 2015

    I am a public speaker and entertainer that lives in The Beautiful Lake of The Ozarks in Missouri.

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    "Is prison as fun as it sounds?"

    I had just finished watching the Netflix series that is based on this book when I started the book. I found the book to be much more mundane than the show, but I wasn't disappointed, actually quite the contrary. I am glad that Piper didn't ruin her relationship with Larry. I am glad she constantly focused on that light at the end of the tunnel. However, I am disappointed with the ending. What happened to her after her release? Has she done anything to improve the prison system? How are the other ladies doing? Has she done anything to help the less fortunate women in their after prison journeys?The book just ended so suddenly. Obviously, it left me wanting more. Thank goodness the show has been picked up for season 2, but I also want more of the real story. I would highly recommend this book and the show. I thought this book would be dark, ugly, and scary but it truly wasn't. This book showed that women embrace one another, love one another, and carry one other no matter where life brings you. If HBOs Oz and a Delta Zeta Chapter had a baby it would be Orange Is The New Black. This is something you don't want to miss. This rarely happens to people like us so this is a great opportunity to pull on the sneakers of the one who drew the short straw and see life through her eyes. Every single one of us that ever drove drunk in college has had at least one thought of what prison would be like. Well, now you will know. Happy Listening!

    33 of 47 people found this review helpful
  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 01-31-15
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 01-31-15 Member Since 2012

    I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)

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    "A different perspective on life in prison"

    I read this book before even being aware that it was also a TV show. I have since watched the show on Netflix. The two are completely and absolutely unrelated. The book is a serious look at the experiences Piper had while in prison, and is billed as a memoire, which it is. The TV show is a dramatization loosely based on the premise of the memoire - a woman going to prison unexpectedly - but that is where the similarity ends. The TV show is billed as a comedy. A dark comedy, probably, but still a comedy.

    It was an interesting look at prison from the point of view of a non-traditional inmate. Did Piper `learn her lesson` ? Maybe, maybe not, but the story had nothing to do with lessons-learned. It was a glimpse into a world that most wealthy, educated and non-drug addicted women don't experience. I quite enjoyed it, and found that I was surprised at some things (how helpful other inmates were, and how race within prison didn't seem to be a big deal in Piper's experience), and not so surprised at others (funding issues for programs in prison).

    Overall it was an interesting "peep behind the curtains" of what goes on behind prison walls - from the point of view of a very non-traditional (and privileged) inmate.

    The narration is good. There isn't any detailed sex or violence and only minimal swearing.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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