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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 (2343 )
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4.3 (2131 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Marsha Tierra Verde, FL, United States 06-21-14
    Marsha Tierra Verde, FL, United States 06-21-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Different, but great insight"
    What did you love best about Orange is the New Black?

    Well, I kind of loved that it was not a TV show about outlandish lesbian sex fiends. The sex on the show is pretty over the top, both in its desperation and in its execution. (And I'm a lesbian with a perfectly normal sex drive.) The book was much clearer about the longing for human contact - both emotional and physical, but not necessarily or primarily sexual. The very realism of the book drew me in.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Her insights into the needs and fulfillment that most of us, at least most of us reading this book in our mainstream society, take for granted every day. Her descriptions of the loss of power she felt were sometimes overwhelming in their simplicity.


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    The reader was great. She had just the right touch of upper class accent in her voice to be absolutely believable reading in the first person. A touch of "ah" sound in any short "a" words and so on. Fluent, clear. Good reader.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I'm not good at avoiding spoilers, so I would have a hard time answering that. But I love Larry.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ROBIN SODDY DAISY, TN, United States 06-19-14
    ROBIN SODDY DAISY, TN, United States 06-19-14 Member Since 2012
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    "I didn't expect to like it..."

    I've never seen the show, and I hear it is very different from the book, but I really really enjoyed this (based on truth) story. It's interesting, and entertaining. I enjoyed the characters , and I was never bored.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexandria Milton New York 06-18-14
    Alexandria Milton New York 06-18-14 Member Since 2012

    Alexandria

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    "Good memoir on a woman's prison life"

    I was conflicted on how to rate this memoir. It moves quickly and it is about a a subject matter people rarely hear about, providing a look inside a womens prison and into the how the war on drugs affects women. It is not fabulous writing, but its quick, to-the-point pace makes up for it. Cassandra Campbell's narration was intensely irritating at first, but it improves as other characters are introduced and Campbell has a chance to prove herself with the accents, which she does well, assigning different and distinct voices to each of the women so that they come alive.

    The author is hyper aware of her privileged status as an upper class white woman in the prison context, and she makes an effort to integrate a lower-class, minority perspective into her writing. But since the cards are not stacked so fiercely against her as they are against most of her fellow inmates, she can do little in this respect except offer empathy. There are several dialogue scenes between Piper and authority figures in the book, where it is more or less revealed that the drug laws in place are not intended for nice upperclass white people like herself, and she is repeatedly told that she doesn't belong there. This is irritating from a policy perspective, because it implies that the other less privileged women in the prison ARE supposed to be there, despite having similar convictions for drug-related crimes. Though she is undoubtedly writing from a place of privilege, it is to Piper's credit that she does try to shed light on the absurdity of drug policy and its motivations and highlight how devastating the war on drugs is for less privileged women, and how the prison system in the US makes the situation worse.

    It is worth the credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AM 06-18-14
    AM 06-18-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Good book .. different from the show"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The only reason I gave it a 4 overall instead of a 5 was that I thought, at times, the story was a little disjointed. She'd be in the middle of a funny anecdote and then would suddenly segway into a completely unrelated topic. Also felt like some aspects were forced too much--i.e. constantly reminding us that she was the girl with the books. We get it.

    But I don't want to take away from the story. It was a good book, interesting, and an easy read. Would recommend it for sure.


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    Liked the narration a lot. Was able to distinguish between many characters quite well.


    Any additional comments?

    Similar enough to the tv show that you're familiar with the background, but still different so that you can enjoy both independent of each other.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol D. Florida 06-14-14
    Carol D. Florida 06-14-14 Member Since 2007

    Audible is my "can't live without". I enjoy the other readers recommendations. Keep them coming!

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    "Well written. Worth a credit."

    Very interesting look at what goes on behind the walls of a women's prison. I suggest you read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions as to the author and the justice system. There is much to be learned!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rick PURLEAR, NC, United States 06-12-14
    rick PURLEAR, NC, United States 06-12-14 Member Since 2011

    In the process of beginning a new chapter of my life and strengthening connections with my daughter.

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    "A Social Commentary"

    In these days of 'for profit' prisons; in an America that incarcerates a higher percentage of it's citizens than any country in the world. This story is illustrative of the huge waste in resources, and potential that a lock 'em up attitude produces.
    Though the author was a productive citizen with only a tangential role in a drug transaction that was ten years in the past, the "war on drugs" knows no mercy and Piper is sentenced to fifteen months in a women's prison. Once inside the true measure of the waste of human energy and talent that filling cells entails is shown. This isn't the nightmare scenarios of rape and torment depicted in class B movies but it is prison. The guards can be petty, the cliques are make it an adult middle school at times and the isolation from their life and loved ones is difficult.
    The author makes the best of her time; catching up on her reading, getting into the best shape of her life, and learning to do electrical work. She adjusts, makes friends and tries to have more in her life than counting down the days while avoiding deeper connections. Though she has a bisexual past and it was a relationship with the wrong woman that led her to commit the crime that put her in prison she maintains her commitment to her fiance. She remains silent about her sapphic past and doesn't succumb to the "gay for the stay" ethos that is prevalent among many of the other inmates.
    Quite a few of the other reviewers seemed to be upset at the abrupt ending of the book and the lack of closure concerning her relationships with the women she met inside. I didn't find this at all disconcerting; after all this disconcerting considering that the subtitle of the book was 'My Year Inside A women's Prison. Plus given Piper's background and current situation I doubt there will be much, if any contact between her and the people she knew on the inside; what she shared with the women she met inside was more of a situational closeness than enduring friendship.
    I found it an interesting glimpse into a world that is often dramatized or sensationalized. As in many things the reality is both better and worse than is depicted in creative media. The narrator Cassandra Campbell does an excellent job with the material of Kerman's life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lizabeth Steinhart Los Angeles 06-11-14
    Lizabeth Steinhart Los Angeles 06-11-14 Member Since 2012

    Lizzie

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    "Extremely well narrated, engagingnarrative."
    Would you listen to Orange is the New Black again? Why?

    This is an incredibly enjoyable audiobook. Cassandra Campbell does a great job of portraying Piper as the out-of-place wasp, yet imbuing the character with patience, wonder and empathy. The story is an illuminating tale of life in a minimum security women's prison, and I am looking forward to finding out what Piper's main take aways are at the end of her experience.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Book Girl New York 06-07-14
    Book Girl New York 06-07-14
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    "Great book and a captivating reader"
    If you could sum up Orange is the New Black in three words, what would they be?

    Truly enjoyed the reader, great accents and voices to make the story come to life in a fantastic way.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 06-05-14
    Tim United States 06-05-14 Member Since 2010

    Not a mainstream reader.

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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?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Lilburn, GA, United States 06-02-14
    Jennifer Lilburn, GA, United States 06-02-14 Member Since 2005

    Apple Girl in ATL

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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