Title: Orange is the New Black
Author: Piper Kerman
Publish Date: April 6, 2010
# of Pages: 298
(**Warning: Possible spoilers!**)
(From Goodreads) With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before.
But that past has caught up with her.
Convicted and sentenced to fifteen 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 people 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. 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, Kerman’s story 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.
Orange is the New Black is a memoir about Piper Kerman’s stay in prison. Popularized by the hit television show on Netflix, this memoir provides the real account of Kerman’s time behind bars.
I’ve been on a great streak lately—I really enjoyed reading this memoir. Kerman did a fantastic job of providing raw insight into the prison system. I’ve seen the Netflix show, so I enjoyed hearing the real story of her prison stay. In short, Netflix’s version of Orange is the New Black is very loosely based off of Kerman’s account. Far-out characters like Crazy Eyes and Pennsatucky are still in the book, but their relationships with Kerman are completely different in real life.
Kerman’s stay behind bars paints a story of a broken prison system, degrading guards, and a process that does little to prepare inmates for their life outside of prison. Kerman makes friends in the most unlikely of places and forms close ties with her bunkies. The other inmates become her family, and they partake in activities one would normally associate with outside life—pedicures, surprise parties, and yoga.
What Kerman relays repeatedly is how little freedom and privacy she actually has. Even in a minimum security prison, her every move is tracked. She’s counted when it’s time to count, her interactions with the outside are monitored, and she’s generally told where to go and what to do. True privacy is found only in one bathroom that has a lock, otherwise, there is no privacy for inmates. They’re subjected to regular pat downs, humiliating “squat and coughs,” and shakedowns at the whim of their guards.
Throughout her prison stay, Kerman has a wonderful fiancé, family, and friends who support her. Between phone calls, mail, and regular visits, she knows she’s loved and has a strong support system on the outside. Additionally, Kerman’s fiancé, Larry, is nothing short of amazing. She’s fortunate, as she often reflect. Her situation is atypical of what inmates typically go home to once they’re released from prison.
This book was worth the read, and the audiobook format was great. The voice actor’s voice closely matched the Piper cast in the Netflix television show, which I enjoyed. Check it out!
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it, and how did you think it compared to the Netflix show?
Buy this book here*, or check it out at your local library.
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