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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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  •  
    Dea Win 09-01-14
    Dea Win 09-01-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Fascinating Story so Much BETTER THAN THE SHOW!"
    What did you love best about Orange is the New Black?

    I tried to watch "Orange is the New Black" and could not get into it. I could not relate to the character or the cast of misfits. The book brought the character to life and brought about real issues in the penal system. I think I will try to tune in to the show now.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George 08-31-14
    George 08-31-14
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    "Revelation"

    I liked this book and listened to it almost straight through. Couldn't resist the parallel between Piper Kerman in this book and Cheryl Strayed (Wild) as both overcame adversity and told the story about it...then profited from a book. The story appealed to me because she admitted her guilt and recovered from it--with the help of the other inmates at Danbury. Now, where is that TV show?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Taylor Rockville, MD United States 07-26-14
    Jane Taylor Rockville, MD United States 07-26-14 Member Since 2014

    jesuva

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    "Interesting story"

    it was an interesting look into a year in women's prison, and full of thoughtful observations and female bonding. That said, I can't say that I found the narrator/author to be a very likeable person by the end. True that she did her crimes as a very young person, and justice was not swift in her case. She admitted responsibility and had some sort of epiphany about the cost of drug trafficking on society but seemed to miss the point of incarceration. If people like her (educated, affluent, creative, driven) don't find it important to respect the laws of the society that has afforded them so much privilege, how else can the rest of society stay safe from them? Incarceration is primarily to punish the offender for putting the rest of us at risk from Nigerian drug lords and organized crime and God knows what else, and to limit the amount of damage that she and her friends in prison can do to us and our kids in the future. Rehabilitation is a useful goal, but not the point, ultimately.

    I am glad she grew up and found success, but personally disturbed by the sense of superiority and wounded pride that infuses this narrative. That said, my daughter met her at a Smith alumnus event and found her charming, so who can say?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caty 07-25-14
    Caty 07-25-14 Member Since 2015

    Profoundly grateful for Audible books on my commutes and for my workouts!

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    "Less Exciting, but More Insightful than the Show"

    I bought this book because I love the television show. I stored up a credit and was excited to use it on this book. Although the lesbian drama is pretty much non-existent (something surprising given the nature of the Netflix original), this book did not disappoint.

    Instead of a constant barrage of drama, Piper uses her time in prison to reflect on important lessons. She writes about the lessons she's learned about responsibility and maturity while doing her time. She writes about the shortcomings of a prison system that is cold, harsh, and uninterested in rehabilitation. She is open and honest in an account of how she was responsible (however indirectly) for the suffering of others, such as her fellow inmates.

    In short, if you are looking for a fantasy novel packed with lesbian drama and people getting beat with "Slocks", this is not the book for you. If you are interested in the life of a woman who gets something real out of her time in prison, then I strongly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 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
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    tenacious_mrz Denver 07-23-14
    tenacious_mrz Denver 07-23-14
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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
  •  
    Kathrin Greenville SC 07-11-14
    Kathrin Greenville SC 07-11-14
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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.

    1 of 2 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

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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 2 people found this review helpful
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