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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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  •  
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 03-31-14
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 03-31-14 Member Since 2011

    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.

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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.

    26 of 26 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.


    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 04-01-14
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 04-01-14 Member Since 2005

    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!

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly Spartanburg, SC, United States 07-18-13
    Holly Spartanburg, SC, United States 07-18-13 Member Since 2010
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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.

    19 of 20 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.

    63 of 75 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Markham, ON, Canada 08-27-13
    Laura Markham, ON, Canada 08-27-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Interesting book. A learning experience."

    I liked this book.

    It is autobiographical, therefore the plot doesn't have the same flow as fiction. There is no rise and fall of Protagonists vs. Antagonists. No 'all is lost' moment at the end of Act II and then a 'hero conquers all' third Act.

    It is simply a narrative - with less drama - told in the first person, of one person's struggle to retain normality and sanity in ridiculously curious circumstances.

    To me it was a cross between a documentary and a diary. It has all the personal hallmarks of a secret diary. An internal dialogue, thoughts, feelings. It also had the descriptive elements of a documentary.

    I really enjoyed the Netflix TV series. I enjoyed this maybe a little less - it has less drama. But it was truly eye-opening.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erica United States 07-22-13
    Erica United States 07-22-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Is prison as fun as it sounds?"

    I had just finished watching the Netflix series that is based on this book when I started the book. I found the book to be much more mundane than the show, but I wasn't disappointed, actually quite the contrary. I am glad that Piper didn't ruin her relationship with Larry. I am glad she constantly focused on that light at the end of the tunnel. However, I am disappointed with the ending. What happened to her after her release? Has she done anything to improve the prison system? How are the other ladies doing? Has she done anything to help the less fortunate women in their after prison journeys?The book just ended so suddenly. Obviously, it left me wanting more. Thank goodness the show has been picked up for season 2, but I also want more of the real story. I would highly recommend this book and the show. I thought this book would be dark, ugly, and scary but it truly wasn't. This book showed that women embrace one another, love one another, and carry one other no matter where life brings you. If HBOs Oz and a Delta Zeta Chapter had a baby it would be Orange Is The New Black. This is something you don't want to miss. This rarely happens to people like us so this is a great opportunity to pull on the sneakers of the one who drew the short straw and see life through her eyes. Every single one of us that ever drove drunk in college has had at least one thought of what prison would be like. Well, now you will know. Happy Listening!

    32 of 41 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!

    44 of 57 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 ;)

    21 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 07-30-13
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 07-30-13 Member Since 2009

    Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit

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    "Real Housewives of Club Fed"

    I read the other reviews saying this book was weak and not representative of an actual prison experience, yet I listened to someone who insisted that the TV show is so awesome the book had to be too. Unfortunately it turned out to be a mistake - I'm thinking of asking for my credit back. This fairy tale version of prison the author was incarcerated in sounds a lot like juvenile detention - with grandmas baking treats and older women mentoring and protecting new inmates. Almost zero violence, little profanity,hot showers, gyms, almost unlimited visits, books & movies..... seriously - laundering money might well be worth it if this is the only punishment - a year in time out at "Camp" (not kidding - that's what they call it). I'm thinking this book is better suited to those who think those "50 Shades of" books are scandalous & edgy.

    45 of 63 people found this review helpful
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