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
"Fascinating....The true subject of this unforgettable audiobook is female bonding and the ties that even bars can't unbind." (People)
I liked the descriptions of the female inmates and their ability to bond despite very different circumstances. I liked Piper herself who comes off as very low-key and friendly without being a pushover. My main problem with the book is the sense that prison comes off as almost too good and such an easy transition for her.
I haven't heard Campbell before but she's good. Her range of voices -- from Russian-born to Jamaican -- is very impressive. Her reading of Piper herself is just okay, a bit flat. But she compensates by doing such a great job with the rest.
Well I guess this question is irrelevant now.
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.
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.
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.
I'm not good at avoiding spoilers, so I would have a hard time answering that. But I love Larry.
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.
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.
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.
Liked the narration a lot. Was able to distinguish between many characters quite well.
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.
Audible is my "can't live without". I enjoy the other readers recommendations. Keep them coming!
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!
Say something about yourself!
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.
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.
Truly enjoyed the reader, great accents and voices to make the story come to life in a fantastic way.
I liked learning about the prison/corrections system through the experience of Piper Kerman and what her time behind bars was like. I found the cast of characters very interesting and definitely humanized "inmates" for me.
Cassandra Campbell's voice, tone and intonation is IDENTICAL to the one of the actress that portrays her on the series. I had to actually google her to make sure it wasn't the same person. I really enjoyed that neat similarity!
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