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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 (4333 )
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4.3 (3876 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathrin Greenville SC 07-11-14
    Kathrin Greenville SC 07-11-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
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    Story
    "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

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Aussie Girl 06-24-14
    Aussie Girl 06-24-14 Member Since 2014
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    84
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    "disappointed"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    no, the movie series was much better


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Orange is the New Black?

    the series on netflix


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    it was well written but not as exciting as the netflix series


    Any additional comments?

    I will keep it and try it again

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary C. Mcmillin decatur IL 06-23-14
    Mary C. Mcmillin decatur IL 06-23-14

    miss mary

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    3
    Overall
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    Story
    "Netflix vs book"
    What made the experience of listening to Orange is the New Black the most enjoyable?

    I have to admit... hearing the slang and cursewords... definately made the book interesting... haha


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Piper -- because I heard her full story I liked her best.... second would have to be pops aka RED


    What does Cassandra Campbell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    the differences in pronuciation... her accents brought characters to life


    If you could give Orange is the New Black a new subtitle, what would it be?

    A year to learn my lessons... not sure really... the subtitle made sense to me.


    Any additional comments?

    Netflix..I really like the show but after listening to book... I am a bit up set... I mean it just goes to show you that Media will make Sex a show runner... screw the story in their minds... that is not right. The Story is a good one and I feel that Netflix has made it impossible to really see what happens...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 06-23-14
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 06-23-14 Member Since 2015

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable, but not amazing"

    This was an interesting book and challenged assumptions I had about our prison system and they type of people I'm them, some assumptions I wasn't consciously aware I had until reading this book. Kerman's story is told in an authentic manner, and while she addresses some of her biases, it does not come across in a preach-y manner. I think it's rare to get the insight she offers in a mostly objective manner that is as popularly read as this book is. I don't think I'll bother with the tv show; I don't want to suffer the perversion of the book into something more flashy for tv. I don't think this book is for everyone, but if you're up for a nonfiction tale of our modern day prison system, then by all means, grab this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    colprubin Tel Aviv, Israel 06-22-14
    colprubin Tel Aviv, Israel 06-22-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    "The power of female bonding"
    What did you like best about Orange is the New Black? What did you like least?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Cassandra Campbell’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


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

    Well I guess this question is irrelevant now.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    27
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    4
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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 New York 06-18-14
    Alexandria New York 06-18-14 Member Since 2012

    Alexandria

    HELPFUL VOTES
    65
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    5
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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
    ratings
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    3
    3
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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
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