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Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison [Paperback]

Piper Kerman
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 8 2011
NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
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.
 
Praise for Orange Is the New Black
 
“Fascinating . . . The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can’t unbind.”People (four stars)
 
“I loved this book. It’s a story rich with humor, pathos, and redemption. What I did not expect from this memoir was the affection, compassion, and even reverence that Piper Kerman demonstrates for all the women she encountered while she was locked away in jail. I will never forget it.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
 
“This book is impossible to put down because [Kerman] could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Moving . . . transcends the memoir genre’s usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you.”USA Today
 
“It’s a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one—both for the reader and for Kerman.”—Newsweek.com
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

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Review

“Fascinating . . . The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can’t unbind.”People (four stars)
 
“I loved this book. It’s a story rich with humor, pathos, and redemption. What I did not expect from this memoir was the affection, compassion, and even reverence that Piper Kerman demonstrates for all the women she encountered while she was locked away in jail. I will never forget it.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
 
“This book is impossible to put down because [Kerman] could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Moving . . . transcends the memoir genre’s usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you.”USA Today
 
“It’s a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one—both for the reader and for Kerman.”—Newsweek.com

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Piper's account of her year spent in prison was thought provoking and peaked my interest in following up with learning more about the incarceration system in the US. Although a memoir, the book's focus is actually more on the absurd and tragic consequences of mandatory minimum sentencing and the complete disregard for human life created by the prison complex, rather than one person's story.

Her experience focuses on a minimum security prison, where it appears that incarceration is largely useless, punitive and creates complex social challenges, as there is no consideration to rehabilitation and support. The criticism of the book I have read largely revolve around her being a privileged person - white, middle class, educated etc. - that is what it is. She repeatedly addresses her privilege in the book, recognizing in situation after situation her privilege and what that affords her (i.e. excellent representation in court, a job after release etc.).

Ultimately, the book is one that asks the question - what is the purpose of incarceration (in non-violent, lesser charges cases)? How is the system that we have created humane and what are the consequences not only for those imprisoned, but their families, communities and society as a whole?

Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real-life look inside a women's prison Oct. 10 2013
By JMar88
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating account of real events in a women's prison. It is well-written and was hard to put down. The various personalites are vividly described! I loved it, and some family members who have Netflix are loving the series, too!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book! Oct. 2 2013
By Maggie
Format:Paperback
I LOVED this book! Because it is a true story, I couldn't stop reading it. Well written, easy read and some pretty hilarious bits too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-read version of the book May 10 2014
By Bren9898 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book and love books-on-tape so I bought this audio CD. The narration is great, although it takes many hours (11+) to get through the story. I listen to it in bed at nighttime and on lazy weekend mornings. I haven't seen the Netflix program so, if you have, I don't know if you'll like this book version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy amazing Feb. 5 2014
By Reanne
Verified Purchase
So realistic and straightforward. I could feel all her emotions and kept wondering what would happen next. This is a book for all women; it teaches about strength, accountability and digging deep within yourself.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay... May 16 2011
Format:Hardcover
This is not my kind of book but my book club chose it so I decided to give it a try. A few chapters in I was tempted to stop reading - I didn't like the author and wasn't particularly empathetic to her ending up in prison. Nonetheless, I'm glad I persevered until the end. While I didn't love it, I did get more into the story as it developed. I found the descriptions of the other prisoners and their interactions interesting and it did give me some idea of life behind bars in a minimum security prison. The author's experience is not typical of the women in prison - she had lots of support from the 'outside' as well as a job waiting for her. It's a somewhat entertaining read - but I wouldn't rush to recommend it to my friends.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not my favourite memoir Aug. 27 2013
By Lynne Frappier TOP 500 REVIEWER
I wanted to like this ... but it fell a little flat. I picked it up after having finished watching the netflix series and hoped for a bit of clarification on what was truth and what was embellished fiction. I found that the writing of the book was a little disjointed, Piper Kerman would start describing a situation, then throw in the name of another inmate, share a short anecdote about that person, and then go off on another tangent about something else. That bothered me. I think Kerman wanted to focus more on what is wrong with the system and how to better help inmates rather than her actual story; but the draw to reading the book really is in the fact that a upper-middle class white girl ended up in jail for a year. I appreciated how honest Kerman was but thought that the book could have been about 100 pages shorter.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Orange is the New Black June 12 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I liked this book and found that prison life is very difficult.. I am looking forward to seeing the TV version.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. Came in time and in great condition
Everything I hoped for. Great read. Came in time and in great condition.
Published 4 days ago by Nicole Tardieu
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My favourite nook and now TV show.
Published 6 days ago by Elaine Franco
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into the community within the prison system as ...
Great insight into the community within the prison system as well as the mistreatment of prisoners. No wonder some of them go nuts!
Published 8 days ago by Ashley Atkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived in a timely fashion...transaction was fast and smooth..
Published 9 days ago by NADENE KOOTOO
1.0 out of 5 stars a very boring read.
a very boring read....could not follow Piper's thread of being 'here and there' and she made herself seem so stoic ad unemotionable
Published 18 days ago by jennifer R bell
4.0 out of 5 stars I love the show
I enjoyed the book but I shouldn't have read it before watching season 2. I was able to predict some things
Published 1 month ago by krista basha
5.0 out of 5 stars Prison Life
I enjoyed reading about life in a women's prison. I thought Piper Kerman depicted the accuracy of prison life very well. The emotional range was interesting and valid. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lea
3.0 out of 5 stars No Comparison to Netflix Show
I did enjoy this book. However if you are looking for something as exciting and sexually charged as the Netflix show, based on this novel, you will be greatly disappointed. Read more
Published 2 months ago by zen4ever
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
A must read re the justice system (though in US), the life in a prison, and the people that work there
Published 3 months ago by Donnita Deen
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written!
An uplifting tale of finding friends and support in the most unlikely of places, prison. She mentions the negative but dwells on the positive, including the tireless support from... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andrée Chartier
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