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 book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can't unbind." (People)
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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!
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.
I thought Cassandra Campbell did an excellent job in reading the book.
I will not try Piper Kerman again. I don't think she was able to pick out enough of the interesting stuff from her year in a women's prison. A good story teller can always do that.
This book has merit and is enlightening about a world most of us will never know. It is thought provoking but left me feeling sad for a very long time. How does the average citizen do anything about this sad and completely ineffectual system? Many questions...few answers. Perhaps this is the merit of this story that at least it got me thinking about a subculture that I would otherwise barely know existed.
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