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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

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  •  
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 03-31-14
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 03-31-14 Member Since 2013

    I spend 90+ minutes a day in my car, Audible makes it enjoyable regardless of what's happening in traffic. My taste varies from endurance fitness to economics and from to combat stories and romance novels.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My favorite book of the year, so far"

    Admittedly, I was looking for something a little edgier when I first picked it up. After walking in on my wife watching the TV series by the same name and overhearing some discussion of lesbian prison sex, I figured this might be a fun and naughty read. I was wrong and I'm so glad. It had none of that. What it had was an honest, sincere ownership for her past transgressions, an accounting for what brought her to that point, an expression of every emotions she had on her trip into, through and out of the federal prison system, and the people who helped her make it through it all. I haven't enjoyed a book this much since The Art of Racing in the Rain. Everything about this book drips sincerity to me and as a result, I followed along with her highs and lows, her daily routine, and the things that helped her get through the day.

    41 of 44 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 04-01-14
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 04-01-14 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "Orange Obsession for me!"

    From the first moment listening to this audio I was HOOKED! A fascinating topic told in a totally engaging way by an amazing narrator I could not stop listening. To make matters worse I "binge watched" the Netfix series at the same time. I was on "Orange Overload". Piper Kerman's experience in a minimum security woman's prison is told with honesty and sensitivity. She did not consider herself a victim and was quite open about what she had done and how she came to understand herself, her crime and her life choices.She describes life in prison, from the basics of survival ie: food, showers, clothing, work assignments, guards, etc to the intimate friendships she made. She describes how through rituals, humor and support they helped each other make life bearable and have some meaning in such a difficult environment. She also describes how the sentence affects the families of women in prison,especially those with children and few resources. The book is quite a bit different than the series which certainly deviates from the story to make it Hollywood friendly. I was happy and sad when it ended. I enjoyed living in Piper's world from the comfort of my own home, during my "Orange Obsessed" week but I was glad to get back to my own life, because I literally couldnt stop listening!

    27 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. J. Kaltenbaugh Pittsburgh, PA 08-06-13
    E. J. Kaltenbaugh Pittsburgh, PA 08-06-13 Member Since 2013
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    "The Book is NOT Like the TV Show (but I liked it)"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I had heard so much about the TV series but I wanted to "read" the book first. I finished the book, then I watched the first episode of the series. Wow! They are nothing alike! I enjoyed the book a lot, although at times it seemed like a bunch of little stories that just ended, with no connection to each other. Overall though, I still enjoyed it. The connections Piper made and the relationships she formed were very interesting and touching.

    The thing I LIKED about the book is that it had a lot of serious social commentary about the American judicial and penal systems. I saw none of that in the TV series. It seemed like they took the basic premise of the book and re-wrote it as a black comedy for TV. If you're looking for comedy you'll probably be disappointed in the book.

    I agree with other readers... I was disappointed that it didn't follow up with her life after prison. I was eager to find out if she kept in touch with any of her prison friends. I guess maybe she's saving that for the sequel? Also, the writing wasn't a masterpiece but the subject matter kept my interest and I was always anxious to hear the next chapter.


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

    I liked Cassandra's dramatization of the different characters in the book.


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

    The part where the guard took Piper to the lake was memorable.


    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly 07-18-13
    Holly 07-18-13
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    "Humorous, Intelligent, and Introspective"
    What did you love best about Orange Is the New Black?

    Orange Is the New Black is an eye opening account of the American prison system. The first person point of view gives the reader an intimate and intelligent look at the institution.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Piper never looses her wry sense of humor. There are laugh out loud moments of interactions with the other inmates. She turns a bad situation into introspective personal revelation. In the end she gains a touching sense of humanity.


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

    I can absolutely imagine Piper Kerman sounding exactly like Ms. Cambell. Her affectations of characters and attitudes are spot on.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, and I almost did.


    Any additional comments?

    Piper Kerman's memoir brings to light important issues about the American judicial system and the disturbing lack of access to successful rehabilitation for inmates.

    21 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Johnnie Walker Blaine, WA 06-23-12
    Johnnie Walker Blaine, WA 06-23-12 Listener Since 2003

    Black

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    "Sadly Incomplete"
    Any additional comments?

    Piper had "advantages" going into prison - an incredible support system and a relatively short sentence. However, I am haunted by concern for some of her cell mates - good women who helped Piper through her year and also made her a stronger woman. Without being preachy, the author makes a very strong argument for the waste of money and human resources our prison system has become. Prison is neither a deterrent nor a fitting punishment for many of those incarcerated. For their jailers, it has become the substitute for the industrial jobs that have gone overseas. Everyone loses.

    68 of 82 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tara Saunders Madison, PA, United States 04-23-14
    Tara Saunders Madison, PA, United States 04-23-14 Member Since 2012

    i love to listen!

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    "Just watch the show!"
    What disappointed you about Orange is the New Black?

    The TV show is so much better! If you are going to listen to the book just don't watch the show first. Then it will probably be ok.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RaisinNut PA, USA 10-06-12
    RaisinNut PA, USA 10-06-12 Member Since 2011

    Making the world better one review at a time.

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    "Makes prison seem like fun!"
    Any additional comments?

    After reading this book, *I* want to spend a year in a women's minimum security prison. If you believe Piper Kerman, women's prison is little more than non-stop female bonding, letter writing, creative cooking and having lots of time to exercise. Who wouldn't want to go to prison? Aside from the occasional strip search, it seems like a nice break from the responsibilities of regular life.

    When I purchased this book I was expecting to get a glimpse into a darker and more troubling world than the one Kerman describes. I guess I'll have to wait for the book about a year in a women's *maximum* security prison. I just don't plan on being the one to write it!

    49 of 63 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl 03-14-14
    Carl 03-14-14
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    "What happens when a WASP goes to prison"
    What disappointed you about Orange is the New Black?

    While there are mentions of punishments and happens, the author never actually tells any alarming stories. Some of the characters she starts to develop, but never really are fully developed. Some of the narrative makes me so tired of the authors whining I want to slap her. Her biggest worry about being in federal prison is how to get people on her visit list.


    If you’ve listened to books by Piper Kerman before, how does this one compare?

    N/A


    What character would you cut from Orange is the New Black?

    The existing characters need more development and she mentions friends (almost as an acknowledgement), but their relation to the story (other than a visit) is not relevant.


    Any additional comments?

    The only redeeming value of this book is to highlight why nonviolent offenders should not be sent to prison and the illogical rationale for sending some of these individuals to prison. Unfortunately, this book is too full of statistics that are pulled to support the story line. You would think that would be good, but the reason is so clearly to fill in the story that it takes away from the narrative. Awful.

    She did some stupid stuff, she should not have gone to prison. But her real crime is writing this horrible book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Manitowoc, WI, United States 09-12-13
    Mary Manitowoc, WI, United States 09-12-13 Member Since 2015
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    "not interesting!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    She spent a few months in prison, made friends and had a basically uneventful experience.


    What could Piper Kerman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    She would of had to put some fiction in it.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    it didn't


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Tucker, GA, United States 07-26-13
    Angela Tucker, GA, United States 07-26-13
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    "Not at ALL like the series"

    I saw the series before I realized it was a book. After knowing there was a book, I excitedly hurried to Audible to download, I couldn't WAIT to start it! While this account of Piper Kerman's experience in a minimum security prison was extremely interesting and enlightening, it was NOTHING like the series. The only similarity between book and series is the fact that the main character's name is Piper. Just about every scene played out in the book never happens in the series and even the parts that match up, don't match up entirely. Even the characters are different, with the exception of Pop (in the book, Red in the series). I can see why though; the book, while very intriguing makes for poor TV drama. I enjoyed both the book and series, but the series was by far much hotter ;)

    25 of 34 people found this review helpful

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