Review: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Title: Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison
Author: Piper Kerman
Rating: 4 Stars
Where to buy: Amazon | BN

From The Cover

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.

If you’re looking for the book tie-in to the Netflix series, this isn’t the book. This is Piper Kerman’s actual memoir on which Jenji Kohan based the characters in the series. This in no way diminishes the enjoyment of the story, however, it’s important to note that this book is only tangentially related to the television show.

Piper Kerman does a great job of bringing you into the world of a minimum-security women’s prison. The women she interacts with are well drawn and it is easy to see the dehumanizing aspects of the prison system in America. At the same time, Kerman does an effective job of educating the reader on the nature of women’s prison and debunking myths about incarceration.

Overall, this is a satisfying read with good pacing and engaging characters. Definitely worth the read.

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