Customer Reviews for

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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

28 out of 38 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 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.

    28 out of 38 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.

    23 out of 31 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!

    13 out of 19 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.

    12 out of 16 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!

    10 out of 18 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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  • 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.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2011

    Paying for a youthful indiscretion

    Kerman paints a picture that few of us with ever experience but should be aware of. I was amazed that Danbury had no computers, no decent library, a sub-standard GED program, a nearly non-existent jobs training program and the poorest excuse for a re-entry program. Why bother to incarcerate criminals if they are released with no hope and direction? My heart broke reading her description of her fiancé leaving her after a visit at Danbury and how badly he felt each time. Kerman seemed honest, remorseful and realistic in her portrayal of prison life in a minimum security facility.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2011

    Highly Recommended!!

    This book was very well written and insightful. For anyone that works in the prison system it gives you an idea of how the inmates view the system.
    A must read for anyone working in a prison.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2010

    Interesting Read!

    Piper Kerman gives us an inside look as to what it's like in one of our country's women's prisons, mainly the Danbury correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut. What makes it so interesting is that Piper is such a well educated, affluent person in society who happened to make a couple of poor choices in her youth. She entered prison scared to death, expecting an experience that was far removed from what she actually encountered there. She carved out friendships with other women from all walks of life, and the story of how they helped eachother, as well as other aspects of priosn life, is well worth the time it takes to read this book.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

    Smart and normal perspective

    I loved this book because it was interesting, kept me wanting to read more and offered a great perspective on prison life. I describe this memoir as "smart" and "normal" because Piper is just that -- she's also very relatable and you feel like you're hearing a friend's story. You would think that a book about being in jail would get repetitive or boring, but this book is far from that! Recommend. It's an easy and interesting read!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    Recommend

    The title caught my attention. If you've ever wondered what it would be like in a women's prison, this book will answer your questions. It's crazy to thing that something from so far in someone's past has come back to haunt them. Definitely makes you think twice about even the tiniest actions you do.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Pulls You In!

    The great thing about this book is that it IS told from the point of view of a woman you normally would not think would land herself in prison. I loved hearing about how much her perspective differed from her cellmates and also how adaptable the human being can truly be. The anecdotes were sometimes funny, sometimes enlightening, and sometimes brought on pangs of sadness. This womans' story reminds a person how your life can change in an instant and how the past always ha a way of catching up to you and making you learn from it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Enlightening!

    I found it hard to put this book down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Good read!

    This book highlights the senselessness of a bureaucracy on autopilot and it makes you realize that people are not just a stereotype. It is an easy and interesting read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2014

    It was pretty cool

    Well, as lots of people said the show is little different from the book. But film industry tend to add stuff in to mak the story more interesting. Films are buisness, they honestly dont care about accuracy,, it's about the money and views. And for people that haven' t noticed, this is an honest story written by woman herself. So you can't really compare them two. Film equals fun, book is about different kind of fun. And this book was pretty cool way to see prison's life. Mvies have stereoypes, but this book prooves them wrong. Read if you want to, but dont be disappointed if this was not what you expected. If you choose to read this, I will say this. "Welcome to prison my friends."

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I'm a big fan of the show Orange is the New Black. It wasn't unt

    I'm a big fan of the show Orange is the New Black. It wasn't until halfway through the second season of the Netflix original series that I decided to read the book.

    Orange is the New Black is a memoir. It's a well-written and straightforward account of Piper Kerman's 15 month sentence in federal prison. Though there are similarities between the book and the series on Netflix, they are certainly different. You shouldn't pick up this memoir simply because you enjoyed the series. If that's your only reason for reading this book, you may find yourself disappointed. The show has taken liberties with the story and has more entertainment value whereas the book is simply Kerman's experiences. (I am not saying that one is better than the other, but that they are both good in their own respective mediums.) However, if you're interested in reading about a woman's stay in prison, you might enjoy this memoir.

    You can read all of my reviews on my blog, KDH Reviews.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Glad to have read it

    Saw the first season on netflix and while waiting for the next season I thought i'd read the book. I was very pleasantly surprised. It's hard to put yourself in Piper's shoes but ever so interesting to understand how these women might cope with their situations. It's an eye opening book to a world most of us don't experience aside from TV. thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    Fantastic

    I watched the netflix series first, but the book was amazing. Worth the read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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