Customer Reviews for

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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

26 out of 34 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

73 out of 102 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 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2014

    Loved, loved, loved this !

    Very entertaining but insightful look into our prison system in the USA. Read it in one night.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    Fantastic

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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2014

    Orange is the new black had many ¿crux¿s¿, one was entering the

    Orange is the new black had many “crux’s”, one was entering the prison and all the emotions that were running through her, but the one that set the book in place was realizing why she had to pay her time, and how to forgive the people that pushed her to be in the situation, “If I could forgive, it meant I was a strong good person who could take responsibility for the path I had chosen for myself, and all the consequences that accompanied that choice. And it gave me the simple but powerful satisfaction of extending a kindness to another person in a tough spot”
    This book was about Piper Kerman and her experience inside a prison because of a drug run she was a part of when her ex girlfriend dragged her along to help her with the job. When Piper left her ex girlfriend, and found a better life for her, the law caught up to her and sent her to a prison to serve her time of 15 months. I really liked this book because she carried good heavy details about the prison life as well as the inmates she shared the prison with. There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about this book. I recommend people  to read this book because, I believe that it teaches people not to judge people  by where they have been or what they may look like, because, we don’t really know who they may be or what their story is truly like and how they have or will overcome their journey.

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  • Posted February 19, 2014

    Piper Kerman in 1998 was a freelance producer in New York. One d

    Piper Kerman in 1998 was a freelance producer in New York. One day two policemen came to her door in the morning. 10 years earlier she drove a car with a briefcase full of drugs. She was convicted of her crime and would serve 11 months in prison. She learns the prison life is not as easy as it seems.  She starts helping new inmates and helping some with schoolwork. She writes about he inmate’s lives and struggles. Surprised when some of the inmates are scared to leave jail because their neighborhoods are so bad. Kerman is forever changed. 
    One of the main themes in the story is that we are all just human.  Even a blond little white girl can go to jail. She had a life before this experience, a loving family, and a boyfriend. We all make mistakes and Pipers was a big mistake but does she regret going into prison and meeting all of those inmates and learning about them. No, its clear in this book she is trying to explain that just because a person in jail does not mean that they are bad people. 
    Some of my likes in this book are that how she told the stories of the other inmates. Really went into detail about the inmates. She was real specific on what happens in prison, like sexual harassment and random strip searches. 
    My dislikes in this book is she really didn’t go into detail about her life and more of her inmates. When I started to read this book I thought it was going to be about what she went through behind bars. 
    You should read this book because it gives you a great perspective on what really goes on behind bars. You will have a different out look on those who get arrested
    My overall rating is a 3.5/5

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  • Posted February 7, 2014

    great reading

    I gave this book a 4 , parts of it was too long and drawn out

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    I liked it

    I have not seen the show on TV but I was curious about the book, that is why I bought it. It was refreshing to hear of someone taking responsibility for their actions and appreciating what the loved ones were going through as a result.

    I would recommend it to others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    Book vs TV Series

    I'm loving the TV series on Netflix, nothing like the dry book. I highly recommend watching it instead of reading it. Its a different perspective seeing the characters come to life. The series is addictive, trust.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013

    Recommended

    Good view of women in a minimal security prison and how they survive. Very revealing in the lack of preparation for release and education within the prison.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2013

    Bland is the new orange

    The author is a tremendous person. The story is phenominal. The writting is some what lackluster. I would recommend any one but people who work corrections to read it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    Great read

    Interested to see how the show compares .

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  • Posted October 28, 2013

    Read the book before you watch

    Read this book right before I read "Wild" - not planned, but interesting that I was attracted to two books written by women who experienced life changing events. "Orange is the New Black" is a fascinating look into a world most women will never experience. Well written, entertaining, and definitely read before watching the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    Very enjoyable

    A much more thoughtful presentation of her year in prison than the TV show which is rather frantic. It is more about the author's journey than the other women who she is incarcerated with. It may change your mind about our penal system - at least for non-violent offenders.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2013

    Good Read

    I enjoyed this book, but it was very disturbing. Our drug laws, and the mandates are not working. Our prisons are a mess. I would have enjoyed finding out how some of the other ladies fared after release.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    Really good read!

    I enjoyed the book and the tv show! Great writing, kept me turning the pages.

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  • Posted October 3, 2013

    I loved the series and thoroughly enjoyed this book

    Great series and a great book although I was a little disappointed by some of the characters who were fleeting in the book but had major roles in the Netflix series. I highly recommend both.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    GREAT BOOK

    I thought the book was very interesting...I'm from the Smith College area, and was curious what Piper had done, and what she experienced while doing her time in jail.

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  • Posted September 21, 2013

    Enlightening View into the FCI for Women

    Ms Kerman takes a concept with gross stereotypes and takes us into the 'real-world' of the FCI. Her story aside, it provides us with a look into the lives and stories of the women serving time alongside Ms Kerman.
    Vastly different, but perhaps more in tune with an actual prison sentence, from the Netflix original series, a must-read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    Cool dude

    I beleve it's awsome like cool.


    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Not what I thought it would be like, but good.

    Piper writes the book much like a diary of her stay in a women's federal prison. She admits to wrongdoings and does not ask for pity. She does point out the downfalls of the prison system - of which there are many! Having some knowledge of the system myself with a family member, she makes some very valid points. A good book for anyone contemplating a life of crime!

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