Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4
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(36)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

25 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

An interesting memoir of life behind bars

I've been curious about this book for a few months, since stumbling across it one day at the bookstore. I'm definitely glad I finally read it; it's a great story and an interesting look at women's prisons from the view of someone who spent some time in one. Orange is th...
I've been curious about this book for a few months, since stumbling across it one day at the bookstore. I'm definitely glad I finally read it; it's a great story and an interesting look at women's prisons from the view of someone who spent some time in one. Orange is the New Black is the story of Piper Kerman, who is sentenced to 15 months in a federal minimum-security prison for a 10-year old drug offense -- carrying a suitcase of drug money for an ex-girlfriend.

Piper isn't exactly someone I was prepared to feel a lot of sympathy towards; she was in a position of privilege (relative to her fellow inmates), having had access to a great lawyer, the support of family and friends, etc. But I ended the book thinking that her story is a great (and important) example of the absurdity of the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing, and so many of the other problems with our criminal justice system. I liked the honesty of her storytelling, and that she was able to portray so well the humanity, friendships, and humor of the women she encountered behind bars. The stories of pedicures, special dinners, birthday surprises, welcoming parties, etc. brought an entirely deeper level of understanding of the women that were imprisoned along with her. Factual research strewn throughout the book's pages also takes this from simply being a memoir of Kerman's stay in Danbury to a source for information on policies and realities of the federal detention system. As someone with an outsider's point of view as well as an insider's view, Piper is able to show the reader just how broken the system is and how little it prepares women for life on the outside.

Definitely a recommended read for anyone who is interested in criminal justice and prisons, but also an interesting book in general for anyone else.

posted by crazylilcuban on February 7, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

70 out of 98 people found this review helpful.

What a disappointment!!

I was so disappointed with this book, I couldn't even finish it. Kerman took absolutely no responsibility for what she did. She offered no explanations besides, wow it's exciting to get involved with a lesbian lover and drug smuggling ring right after college. Um- no it...
I was so disappointed with this book, I couldn't even finish it. Kerman took absolutely no responsibility for what she did. She offered no explanations besides, wow it's exciting to get involved with a lesbian lover and drug smuggling ring right after college. Um- no it's not. She glosses over her involvement, implied she did nothing wrong, and acted like it's so easy to get away from that life. Just hop on a plane to San Fran and get a new boyfriend! I thought it would get better once her prison sentence started, but I was wrong. There was nothing interesting here. Kerman comes across as an elitist snob who taught the prisoners how to read! She saved them with her college education! Listening to her moan about the indignities of prison was more than I could bear, especially when it seemed like she was going to detail Martha Stewart's stay there. That was enough for me.

posted by 1420737 on June 7, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    What a disappointment!!

    I was so disappointed with this book, I couldn't even finish it. Kerman took absolutely no responsibility for what she did. She offered no explanations besides, wow it's exciting to get involved with a lesbian lover and drug smuggling ring right after college. Um- no it's not. She glosses over her involvement, implied she did nothing wrong, and acted like it's so easy to get away from that life. Just hop on a plane to San Fran and get a new boyfriend! I thought it would get better once her prison sentence started, but I was wrong. There was nothing interesting here. Kerman comes across as an elitist snob who taught the prisoners how to read! She saved them with her college education! Listening to her moan about the indignities of prison was more than I could bear, especially when it seemed like she was going to detail Martha Stewart's stay there. That was enough for me.

    70 out of 98 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2010

    Not Exciting at all

    The book was OK, but i feel anyone that has been in a white collar prison could have written it. I kept waiting for something "prison like" to happen to her. She made it sound like everyone was so nice, helpful supportive, they even gave parties. I want to go there!! EVERY member of her family was supportive of her too. Nothing negative was said. EVER. The gaurds yelled but were generally nice. She got a transfer of jobs from the head CO when another CO said something mean to her. Come on, its prison!! I felt the story was boring, and i continued to wait for something interesting to happen to her and it never did. Disappointing read.

    41 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2011

    Not what I thought it was going to be

    The author really builds up a terrifying, fear-for-your life-behind-bars story when it seems like the worst that happened was she had her feelings hurt. I've watched documentaries on life in women's prison that were truly terrifying (watch the first episode of the A&E show "Beyond Scared Straight" to see what I was expecting). This book reiterates the cushy life of a Federal prison I had already pictured - nothing out of the ordinary that this author suggests. The author also never owns up to deserving this sentence and had the full support of friends and family. She was embarrassed by all the support she received, which I found insulting considering the number of women who have no one! By the middle of the book, I found the author to come across as superior and unhumbled by her situation, constantly referring to her New York lifestyle of wine and expensive dinners, so I stopped reading.

    40 out of 53 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2011

    no good

    this book is a rip off. the lady is a drug smuggler and gets sent to jail.

    she's in jail the same time martha stewart is being sentenced so I guess she

    got the idea that she could use this fact to write a book and make a buck.

    NOT WORTH READING I WANT MY MONEY BACK

    37 out of 68 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    boring

    save your money

    27 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An interesting memoir of life behind bars

    I've been curious about this book for a few months, since stumbling across it one day at the bookstore. I'm definitely glad I finally read it; it's a great story and an interesting look at women's prisons from the view of someone who spent some time in one. Orange is the New Black is the story of Piper Kerman, who is sentenced to 15 months in a federal minimum-security prison for a 10-year old drug offense -- carrying a suitcase of drug money for an ex-girlfriend.

    Piper isn't exactly someone I was prepared to feel a lot of sympathy towards; she was in a position of privilege (relative to her fellow inmates), having had access to a great lawyer, the support of family and friends, etc. But I ended the book thinking that her story is a great (and important) example of the absurdity of the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing, and so many of the other problems with our criminal justice system. I liked the honesty of her storytelling, and that she was able to portray so well the humanity, friendships, and humor of the women she encountered behind bars. The stories of pedicures, special dinners, birthday surprises, welcoming parties, etc. brought an entirely deeper level of understanding of the women that were imprisoned along with her. Factual research strewn throughout the book's pages also takes this from simply being a memoir of Kerman's stay in Danbury to a source for information on policies and realities of the federal detention system. As someone with an outsider's point of view as well as an insider's view, Piper is able to show the reader just how broken the system is and how little it prepares women for life on the outside.

    Definitely a recommended read for anyone who is interested in criminal justice and prisons, but also an interesting book in general for anyone else.

    25 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    I would put this as #1 on my list of books to read in prison.

    After watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix, I had to read the book. Reading Pipers story, in her own words was pretty intense. It was interesting to see how she tried to fit in, but still stay disconnected at first. It was heartwarming to see her friendship with her roommate blossom. I felt for her family on the outside, especially Larry. He showed what a great guy he was all through the ordeal.

    I would recommend this book to anyone, and also the series on Netflix. It is well done.

    20 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

    Kerman Makes A Women's Federal Security Prison Relatable

    I am almost done with this book and have really enjoyed, telling a lot of my friends and coworkers about it too. That's a mark of an interesting story and great narrator, I think. Kerman, as a white, college educated women in her early thirties, speaks in a voice I can relate to, but with incredible sympathy and clarity. Her respect for her fellow prisoners is evident, and in many ways this is more a story about them and the prison system at large than about one woman. The only critique I have is the editing- details, points, or narratives are often repeated throughout chapters, almost as if someone different edited each one without knowing what was already explained at another point in the book. That said, this is well worth a read!

    12 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2012

    An insider's view to prison life-honest and realistic.

    I enjoyed this book and the author's honesty. I have a couple of friends in jail or prison and so much of what they have shared with me is very similar to what Piper Kerman says of her experience. Great insight into a world many don't experience. Also a good look at our justice system.

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Minus stars

    Oh please. She goes to camp cupcake and thinks she suffers? She should have gone to a real jail and done real time. Poor baby. Waste of money.

    9 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    This Show!!!!

    Netflix has inspired me to read the book.. oh my gosh I'm a fan!

    9 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2013

    Eh it was okay

    The book was okay...it kind of dragged after awhile. She is a good writer..she captured how she really felt. I did watch the series as well, which made me buy the book. I don't normally watch a show or a movie before reading the book..but i was so addicted to the show and then I found out it was based on a memoir. So curiousity struck...and personally it was disappointing. The show was enticing, fun, and dramatic...the book had its moments. Granted not everything is how it really is in the book but I just thought that this was pretty far from the book. It was quite shocking at how different it was, just my opinion.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    Entertaining

    The characters in this book are well described and very interesting. They are what kept the pages turning. An interesting and valuable view of our criminal justice system.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2011

    Interestng read!!

    I really enjoyed this book. It really shows that our system is broken and needs a complete over haul.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2010

    What a wonderful excursion through an idiotic penal system.

    Piper Kerman's experiences were clearly documented in this eye-opening dissertation of Danbury Federal Prison. I laughed and, yes sometimes I cried, following her time in an obsolete, ineffective penal system here in the US. This is well written and I would be honored someday to have the opportunity to meet "Kermit" and Larry7. Ms. Kerman, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Bill Barry, New Hampshire

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Ok

    Was expecting a lil more drama but overall a good read

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2010

    Great Summer Read - Nothing cupcake about it.

    Overall, the content was very enlightening. Because this was a true story, you were quickly absorbed into the life of a young woman who clearly had no direction and was led into the bowels of the drug scene. What was particularly astonishing was the life inside prison which created a heirarchy to the daily lives of these women.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2013

    Meh

    She babbles and whines a bit. I skipped pages upon pages. While she had some valid points on preparing prisoners for re-entry to the real world, she has trouble grasping that her actions no matter how minor and long ago still have ramifications despite how unpleasant she finds those consequences to be. I would like to point out her enabling of other prisoners. She had the oprtunity to teach but instead enabled by cheating for and doing the work for others.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2013

    There are two Orange is the New Black. This book is one...

    ...the TV show is the other. The Kerman book is interesting, but not as well written as the TV series. Kerman's book is all about Kerman. While she talks about how much her fellow prisoners came to mean to her, they never mean much to us. She doesn't develop their characters, skips rapidly from one to the other. Jenji Kohan's series was fiction, so she had much more latitude to make her characters interesting and eccentric. She combined some of Kerman's characters, modified some, totally created others. There is no one faintly similar to PornStache in the book, for example. The characters had much more depth than in the book. But, fiction is fiction, nonfiction is limited by its facts. The book is a fast read, and a look into a world most of us cannot imagine. Read it, but don't expect to get to know Crazy Eyes, or anyone else.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2013

    Don't waste your time on a woman who spent her time in prison in

    Don't waste your time on a woman who spent her time in prison in the same one Martha Stewart did. Although I'm sure it difficult to be locked up, she shouldn't have committed the crime in the first place. I don't believe this is an accurate account of what really happens in prison.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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