Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
by Piper Kerman
Hardcover- N/A

A compelling, often hilarious, and unfailingly compassionate portrait of life inside a women's prison

When Piper Kerman was sent to prison ...

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  "Orange is the New Black" by Ramsayrl (see profile) 07/02/10

I just didn't buy Piper's story. I think she forgot to put in a few facts in her book. There was so much potential for a good book, but she kept focusing on how wonderful, terrific, beautiful, she was...and that completely ruined the book.

 
  "Orange, not my color" by winkx1207 (see profile) 03/14/11

Orange is the New Black was a good and informative read. True story about a person who made mistakes and paid for them. I learned a lot about the Federal prison system. I would recommend to other clubs. Our group had great discussion.

 
  "Not What I Expected." by dlmangold (see profile) 07/25/11

While it was informative to find out what a Federal Prison experience was, I'm not convinced it's that "enjoyable". I dragged on a little too much. Half way thought the book I was hoping something really exciting would happen but it was one boring experience after another.

 
  "Skip it" by rachel0 (see profile) 04/11/12

There's better out there

 
  "Had potential, but tone was too preachy" by celia4120 (see profile) 11/21/13

The plot made for an interesting discussion, but the narration really took away from the book. It didn't leave room for interpretation, and the facts cited seemed forced.

 
  "Good discussion, not good book" by nmfoley (see profile) 11/21/13

I think the point that the author was trying to convey was a good one. I got more out of reading her interview at the end of the book then I did the book. She seemed too focused on herself to really get her point across.

 
  "Poorly written, unconvincing" by colleenberg1 (see profile) 01/21/14

The writing was disjointed, as if it was written by different authors. It also read like a young readers book.

 
  "Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman " by thewanderingjew (see profile) 01/23/14

Piper, a well-educated Smith College graduate, is immature and irresponsible. She is living a life beneath her abilities and her intelligence, making foolish job decisions, falling in with a druggie crowd, exhibiting confusion about her own sexual orientation, and making life-changing, devastating decisions which seriously compromise her future. Although she escapes the life of questionable morality, ends her downward spiral and winds up getting engaged and following a straight and narrow course, her past eventually catches up with her, and she is arrested.
The wheels of justice spin slowly and often without logic. Because of the continuing investigation of the criminal case in which she was prosecuted, she remains free, although found guilty, for ten long years. She is left in limbo, wondering what her fate would ultimately be in terms of the length of her sentence and the prison to which she would be assigned. The love and friendship she found in the intervening years “between the crime and the time”, serve to stand her in good stead when she is finally forced to pay her debt to society. Her friends and family stand by her and offer the support she needs to survive her incarceration.
When, ultimately, she leaves for prison to serve her term after ten years have passed, her crime is long forgotten. She has already reformed her life and is an upstanding citizen. Under those circumstances, to this reader, the prison sentence seemed unfairly imposed. If prison is supposed to rehabilitate through the punishment, then surely watching ten years of your life go by with uncertainty, while you are living an exemplary life, seems long enough to be considered time served. Imposing further time in a prison seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. When incarcerated, all of the new, first time offenders are scared, and were it not for the inmates already there, who provided the “newbies” with the basic information and supplies they needed, the experience would have been even worse. The women protected each other and formed cliques based on their ethnicity and their backgrounds.
Once in prison, Piper seemed to have a pretty charmed life because of her good looks and intelligence. Her educated background served her in good stead and she was able to figure out the rules, written and unwritten, and to help her fellow prisoners, writing letters and papers. When the supervisor of her work detail took undue liberties, she was able, against all odds, to get transferred to another work group. Unfortunately, she was not able to get a furlough to visit her grandmother when she became fatally ill, but on the other hand, she had several visitors on a weekly basis and enough money in her account to provide herself with necessities and make her life as palatable as possible, under such circumstances. She was better able to make the best of an awful situation than most of the prisoners with her because they were poor and uneducated.
The book does point out the injustices of the justice system and the need for reform. However, although the author seems to want you to feel sorry for the conditions in prison, I felt sorrier for the foolish life choices the women made which condemned them in the first place. The book attempts to provide the reader with insight into the demeaning prison culture and a view of the intimidation practiced by some of the more cruel and insensitive guards. Female prisoners were guarded by male and female guards which sometimes made for more discomfort. Piper felt that the function of the prison was to humiliate rather than rejuvenate and restore the victim to society. She also believed t he length of sentences for the crimes committed were indiscriminate and excessive. Employees of the prison system Piper experienced did not always have stellar characters, and many took advantage of the prisoner’s impotence with verbal, if not physical abuse. Sometimes, assignments for work and special privileges were based on the whim of the counselor in charge or the officer in charge of the work group. Prisoners were at the mercy of those in charge.
The system is absolutely unjust. The judge has some leeway in the imposition of a sentence, and often, it is colored by his background, religion and/or mood or his subjective opinion of the defendant. Objectivity is not always in evidence. Prison sentences for particular federal crimes are sometimes mandated with little opportunity for leeway by the judge, but sometimes, the sentence seemed more unjust because the term of the sentence was not uniformly applied to all similar offenders. To avoid the iniquity, it is far better not to commit the crime, not to enter the labyrinthine maze of the penal system at all. The system makes the prisoner powerless and that is not a recipe for success.
The book enlightens the reader about Piper’s crime and the daily life of her time served. It often became tedious with too many details, with diary-like information which slowed the progress and thread of the book, but it seems perfectly suited to be the serialized TV program it became. For me, as a reader, I would have liked to see some of the characters better developed. I would have liked to find out more about how they made out in the world after their release, especially those who had served lengthy sentences.
The book seemed like “chick lit” and, as such, more suited to the twenty to forty age group than to older readers. The music, the language and the experiences are far more familiar to them. It was often repetitive and Piper took to philosophizing and extolling her own accomplishments far too often. The reader of the audio was excellent. If not for her, I doubt that I would have finished the book; there simply wasn’t enough structure or meat in the subject matter for me.

 
  "Orange" by erinhook (see profile) 01/27/14

 
  "Orange is the new black" by June65 (see profile) 01/28/14

I absolutely loved this book an interesting read. Everyone should read this book

 
  "Orange is the new black" by Pinkpaintergirl (see profile) 02/27/14

Found piper uninteresting, unlikable and never finished this book. Bought it for a book club. Would not recommend it. The tv show is much better...this is a first for me.

 
  "" by AmyOgden (see profile) 04/07/14

 
  "Orange is the New Black" by egibson129 (see profile) 04/18/14

I did not expect to like this book, based on what I had read about it. I was pleasantly surprised though, and enjoyed it while reading it. In retrospect, however, I and my book club have doubts about how realistic the book is, whether the author took any liberties with herself and/or the other characters for the sake of a more interesting book. It made for an interesting club discussion.

 
  "Orange is the New Black" by butrflies143 (see profile) 04/28/14

Very interesting insight into the prison system and mandatory minimum sentences. I kept waiting for something dramatic to happen but realized that was not the point of this book. I think Piper\\\'s point was to make clear mandatory minimums hurt more than they help. Locking up non-violent criminals for very long terms with no rehabilitation or training on how to be a productive part of society once released was the point as I understood it.

 
  "" by LouAnnPatricia (see profile) 06/25/14

 
  "drama queen in orange" by Rosel (see profile) 07/03/14

 
  "Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison" by slotori (see profile) 07/03/14

This book allowed a glimpse into prison life; a place that is often mystified for most.

 
  "An Insightful Memoir " by TracyStrassburg7559 (see profile) 08/11/14

The book highlights the strength and resolve of women as they help and lift one another up in difficult times from various socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds and shines a light on the injustice, the war on drugs, and our penal system. The series on Netflix is a gross misrepresentation of the experiences Piper Kerman writes about in her book. The series is sensationalized with sex and violence.
Tracy

 
  "" by malliettjm (see profile) 08/11/14

 
  "Orange is New Black" by Silvercan (see profile) 08/15/14

Having worked in a Maximum security forensic facility, I found her stories to be very manipulated for the public enjoyment. She had money and influence to purchase survival in prison. One big truth was well presented...that we will be held accountable for our crimes eventually. Overall her book was insincere and cheap.

 
  "Well written, OITNB wins our hearts" by MrsFlutterby (see profile) 10/11/14

This book was well-liked by our group and provided a lot of fodder for discussion. Rarely do we get through the majority of questions and still keep talking about it but we sure did. The author does a great job of taking you inside the federal prison system and you feel that you\\\\\\\'re with her during her incarceration. The only thing lacking was development of her realization that she had some culpability in the matter. We would have liked to see that taken further in the book.

 
  "" by mfinan (see profile) 11/19/14

 
  "Orange is the New Black" by Amanda7 (see profile) 01/22/15

Very interesting autobiography of a year in a women's minimum security prison and the prison system. I have not seen the show based on this book, but I understand its nothing like the book other than basic info and character names. My main opinion after reading this, is that the prison system needs an overhaul.

 
  "Orange is the New Black" by Cherypit (see profile) 01/30/15

While it was an eye opener with respect to women in the US prison system, it was poorly written and to be honest a little boring. I was glad it wasn't longer, I just wanted to finish it.

 
  "" by terrisilvers (see profile) 02/06/15

 
  "Orange is the new Balck" by little-sweetums (see profile) 03/16/15

Lively discussion by the group especially about prison conditions in the US. But some of the group felt the character development was lacking.

 
  "Thankfully not as graphic as the show!" by bmorrison36 (see profile) 04/21/15

This book provided an interesting look into the justice system from a privileged girl who got caught working as a drug mule. If you're worried that it will be graphic like the TV show, don't worry. In fact, at times it gets a little slow as the author tells of her daily life behind bars and her relationships with the other inmates. There is great fodder for discussion, though. My group was not impressed with the actual writing, but the subject matter was fascinating.

 
  "Enjoyed the book - an interesting portrayal of prison life" by mabook (see profile) 09/27/15

Our Book Club enjoyed this book. Several members watch the series, too, so much time was spent during our meeting comparing the book with the show. The consensus is that the book was enjoyable and interesting, but it was hard to follow the characters ... the author could have done more to develop this in her writing. The show does a better job of showing the back stories to the characters, but then again the show is a fictionalized account, rather a memoir, so more license could be taken with actual events. We recommend this book.

 
  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/08/17

The book started slow but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It helped that I saw shows on Netflix to have insight on characters.

 
  "Orange is the new black" by D.scarpa (see profile) 05/23/17

Well written, enjoyable, never felt like putting it down.

 
  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 06/22/18

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