Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review - Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Product Description

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

When Piper Kerman was sent to prison for a ten-year-old crime, she barely resembled the reckless young woman she’d been when, shortly after graduating Smith College, she’d committed the misdeeds that would eventually catch up with her.Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, she was suddenly forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking.

Kerman spent thirteen months in prison, eleven of them at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, where she met a surprising and varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances. In Orange Is the New Black, Kerman tells the story of those long months locked up in a place with its own codes of behavior and arbitrary hierarchies, where a practical joke is as common as an unprovoked fight, and where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated.

Revealing, moving, and enraging, Orange Is the New Black offers a unique perspective on the criminal justice system, the reasons we send so many people to prison, and what happens to them when they’re there

My Thoughts: Prior to reading this, I steeled myself against what I thought was to come: prison brutality, rape scenes and violence. What I got was a memoir full of love and friendships, lessons given and lessons learned.

Piper's family was extremely supportive of her while she was incarcerated. Her fiance, Larry, made weekly visits to see her. She was very fortunate to have a loving support system outside of the prison's walls. Inside the prison's walls, having a support system proved to be as nurturing and as strong as her own family's.

Right away she was taken under the protective wings of other prisoners. They helped her ease into life at the prison, showing her the ropes.....things that she needed to do and things that she should never do. She formed strong bonds with these women, some of whom she found rough on the outside and gentle on the inside.

She temporarily gets sent to Chicago and is subjected to an entirely different prison environment. She misses her friends and her life at Danbury, but she ends up making the best of a bad situation....even when she encounters a couple of "friends" that were involved with her crime a decade ago.

I was amazed at Piper's strength and character. I was ecstatic when she was able to switch from her electrician's job to painting and construction, which allowed her to partake in painting picnic tables down by a lake. She was so happy to see the water and the boats that she cried. We never realize how much we take for granted every single day.

This is a touching and sometimes hilarious story that I highly recommend. I'm so glad that I read it and will certainly be telling others about it.

Photobucket Very Good!

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523387
About the Author Piper Kerman is vice president of a Washington, D.C.–based communications firm that works with foundations and nonprofits. A graduate of Smith College, she lives in Brooklyn.


Stephanie said...

I am surprised that she'd be imprisoned for a 10-year-old drug offense. Isn't there a statute of limitations? This does sound like an interesting book. Thanks for reviewing it!

Judi said...

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serendipity_viv said...

I don't think I have ever read any books set in prison. I am glad it wasn't too harsh. It definitely sounds worth a read.

The Bumbles said...

Thanks for introducing me to this Missy - I enjoy NF and memoirs so I will add this to my To Read list on Goodreads. Very interesting subject matter.


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