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

Average Rating 4
( 463 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(173)

4 Star

(135)

3 Star

(76)

2 Star

(35)

1 Star

(44)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

29 out of 39 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

76 out of 107 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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  • 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.

    45 out of 62 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.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2010

    It was OK!

    I'm on the fence. I couldn't believe how many times I had to read that she had blonde hair and blue eye. A full description was given in the beginning so repeating it over and over and over again became too much. After awhile it comes across as if she thinks this makes her superior to the other women. I didn't like that. I continued to read and got through it and it was OK. It did give me the "blonde blue eye" version of life behind bars.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2014

    Federal prison is a College Dorm?

    I was soooo disappointed in this "memoir". If this tale is true, no wonder our prisons are full. Its like one long sleepover...

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2014

    not at all interesting

    not at all interesting

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Ehhhhh is the best i can do for a review

    Well, I haven't watched the show yet, I thought this would be a good introduction.I hope that is not the case because this book was pretty boring. I am prison obsessed and this really wasn't a description of prison life. Precise stories were few and far between. I really expected more. I would say, only buy this book if it is on sale. She isn't a good writer so don't go in hoping for a good story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2013

    If you love the show, skip the book! The book is nothing like th

    If you love the show, skip the book! The book is nothing like the series. Kerman simply uses it as a forum to declare how her "minor" crime should not be punished and to rail against the current state of the US prison system and its treatment of CRIMINALS, who in Kerman's mind have no business being locked up. Skip this one, and enjoy the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

    Too long

    I enjoyed the begining and the end. Could have been written in half the amount of pages. The middle is boring and repetitious.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2013

    I was disappointed as well. It could have been a compelling stor

    I was disappointed as well. It could have been a compelling story; it IS a compelling story but unfortunately there 
    are too many characters who are not developed. The author devotes about 2 pages
    then skips on to someone else. Two chapters later the character is mentioned again w/no
    context. I thought it was very shallow and poorly written. Disappointing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2014

    A little disappointing

    I probably should not have watched the Netflix series before reading this book. After thoroughly enjoying the shows, the book was I uneventful and dry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2014

    Ehhhh

    I thought that the style of writing was fairly good. It was the story itself that I found lacking. It seemed like Pipers stay in federal prison was about as difficult as a 9 year olds first time at sleep away camp. The food sucked, the bed was uncomfortable, and some of the girls didnt like her. That is the extent of Pipers struggles. I would never have guessed that this book was the inspiration for the Netflix series. For the first time in my life I can tell people that the show is better than the book. Someone can fact check me but I think it is safe to say Hell has frozen over! The only reason it received two stars is because the book was well written and because it contained some very intereating statistics about women in the prison system.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014

    Kiss hand three times post 3times look under pillow

    Jew

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2013

    An insightful book.

    As well as giving readers an inside look at womens' prisons and how they are run, this story gives you a glimpse of how a person can side step in life and create a living hell for themselves. Decisions to go straight and work hard while doing time for mistakes will help the person get going in life again on the outside. Piper did a good job of letting the reader feel her emotions throughout.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013

    Shadow

    "Dipsh<_>its"

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2013

    Darkpu Darkpoisip Darkpu Darkpoison

    Claws the ground

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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