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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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  •  
    D. Knight Nashville, TN USA 03-05-14
    D. Knight Nashville, TN USA 03-05-14 Member Since 2011

    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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prisca Ekkens Emeryville, CA 09-01-13
    Prisca Ekkens Emeryville, CA 09-01-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Wow! An Unexpected Eye-Opener"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I watched the television series by the same name which lead me to the book. I couldn't believe it was based on a true story! Piper's story on its own is very intriguing. Reading her book also give insight to how the war on drugs and for-profit prisons have created casualties of drug addicts and the poor. Eventually, most of 2.5 million inmates in US prisons will be released after serving their time. Branded for life and some of their fundamental rights as US citizens revoked, they'll return to a world where the punishment continues with slim to no chance of gaining a foothold in normal society. As a country, I think we can do better when it comes to justice for all.


    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Denver, CO, United States 08-07-13
    Thomas Denver, CO, United States 08-07-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Not bullshit..."
    What made the experience of listening to Orange Is the New Black the most enjoyable?

    The story seems not to be embellished. Seems like the real deal. It does pay off at the end when more details of the co conspirators are given. It is true that the book needs an afterward to explain what happened to Piper and the other inmates.


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    The reading was top notch. It was read with feeling, variation in voices and accents as well.


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

    The books does a great job telling you about the daily routine and politics of living in a women's minimum security prison. The author said that prior to surrendering for prison she read all the books about prison life - but these were books by male ex cons. This book is important as a female perspective for a female institution.


    Any additional comments?

    Piper should join the Navy and then write a book about that. There seem to be a lot of similarities between minimum security prison and being in the navy, ie lots of chicken shit rules. Makes for great bonding and misadventure.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rod Morgan DC 07-25-13
    Rod Morgan DC 07-25-13 Member Since 2004

    Unclejack

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    "Not bad, but the TV show is better"
    Any additional comments?

    Remember that a terrific movie (and a legendary TV show) emerged from a mediocre series of comic novels about doctors in Korea, and accept the fact that Piper Kerman is not as good a writer as the folks who turned her story into a dazzling Netflix series. With that point in mind, you may enjoy hearing a very different set of stories in this autobiographical text.

    Ms. Kerman doesn't have strong narrative skill and evidently got little editing. As a result, stories are sprinkled around with little continuity or development, and characters jump up and down in a fairly random order. One example is the way the incarceration of Martha Stewart is handled - it is foreshadowed and anticipated, only to fall flat when the TV homemaker manages to be assigned a "nicer" place to stay.

    Cassandra Campbell tries to keep the players straight with a few accents, but they are not specific enough and become as much an intrusion as a help; her long stretches in a normal voice are easier to take.

    The best story is not here or on TV - Ms. Kerman now works in public relations on prison reform issues; a true tale of prison rehabilitation.

    And if you do like the book - wait 'til you see the series!

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer T. Do 07-24-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Ehhhh. Not what I expected"
    What did you like best about Orange is the New Black? What did you like least?

    I liked that this was a real story told by someone that actually went through the experience of being in a women's prison. Unfortunately, the book just didn't do anything for me and I found myself bored and my attention drifting to other things while listening to it. This was my first Audible purchase (using a trial membership) and I nearly cancelled it because I assumed that I just didn't have the attention span required to drive and listen to a book at the same time. But the 2nd book I got (Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn) was by far more interesting than this one. I had heard so many great things about the show so I figured the book would also be good. Nope. Just felt like a white girl complaining about what sounded like a pretty cushy jail sentence to me.


    Was Orange is the New Black worth the listening time?

    Maybe for others, but not for me. It started off strong, but then I lost interest pretty quickly. I kept waiting for something exciting/scandalous to happen to Piper in prison, but nada.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tenacious_mrz Denver 07-23-14
    tenacious_mrz Denver 07-23-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Terrible performance by narrator"

    Narrator's accents were horrible, made me want to cringe.
    Shortcomings of the performance aside, I enjoyed the book after binge-watching the TV show and trying to determine which characters and story lines were real vs. created for the TV show. I'd hoped there'd be more commentary on the US justice system made in the book (opposed to the show) and perhaps some call to action by the author - but alas, this is Kerman's memoir based on her experiences whilst in prison not an explicit diatribe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Stoneham, QC, Canada 07-22-14
    Caroline Stoneham, QC, Canada 07-22-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Worth the read, even if you've seen the series!!"

    Piper Kerman writes an honest, realistic and brilliant book about her experience behind bars. Years after having transported a suitcase full of cash for her drug trafficking girlfriend, Piper Kerman's past has caught up wth her and she is sentenced to 15 months in a federal minimal security women's prison. Her journey into the almost outlandish world of incarceration is one of unexpected frienships and unconditional support, both from people on the inside and the outside. As soon as she starts her life as an inmate, she is taken in charge by other inmates who help her naviguate and learn all the rules, regulations, rituals, expectations and limitations of her nwe life. She is also offered psychological support. The everyday life of these women is described with a richness of details that helps the reader relate and empathize. The courage and solidarity of these women is truly awe inspiring. The aspect that strucked me the most is how these non-violent offenders are mostly treated by the personnel they interact with. It is shocking, if not really surprising, to read how many treat them like they don't deserve the least modicum of respect, decency or compassion. The book really raises several questions about how the system and society in general treats inmates and ex-convicts, how little time and energy is spent on rehabilitation and reinsertion. Kerman depiction of the classes she must attend in order to prepare her and her fellow soon-to-be released inmates to reintegrate society would be pure comedy gold if it were not for the fact that these classes are a joke, a very bad joke.

    Kerman doesn't offer false excuses for what happened to her. She made a mistake, a stupid and selfish mistake that ended up hurting so much more people than she ever expected. She doesn't wallow in self-pity, but on the contrary, accept her situation and her responsability with grace and courage.

    The narration by Cassandra Campbell is solid through the whole book. I only would wish for it to be more lively and animated in certain passages. But overall, it's an enjoyable performance.

    If you are looking for racy scenes and violence filled tension, stick with the Netflix series. The book is less sensationlist than this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauraji 07-13-14
    Lauraji 07-13-14 Member Since 2014
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    "My daughter and I both couldn't stop listening"
    What made the experience of listening to Orange is the New Black the most enjoyable?

    The writing is very good, I appreciated the way she described and seemed to love all the characters.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    She changed before our eyes, it seemed. She came into herself. She dealt with a really tough situation and she bonded with the ladies in prison. An honest account.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 07-11-14
    Linda 07-11-14 Member Since 2010
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    "We get it... you're white, your educated..."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    No. I'm thankful an awesome show was at least born from this muckery.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Piper Kerman? Why or why not?

    No. I only read this because I'm a fan of the show.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Cassandra Campbell?

    She did great! Her accents were on point! Very talented!


    Could you see Orange is the New Black being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Lol. Duh!


    Any additional comments?

    I'm glad the writers and show producers only used this as a vague premise. I could do without all the sex action, which I'm thankful the book did not contain.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathrin Greenville SC 07-11-14
    Kathrin Greenville SC 07-11-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Story goes beyond recounting Events"

    Beyond hearing Piper Kerman's own story, it also gives insight to every day life in a low security prison and the people that she encounters in this time. On top of that, the author supplemented the story with statistics and facts about the prison system in general.

    The performance of Cassandra Campbell really brings this story alive.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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