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

Average Rating 4
( 457 )
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5 Star

(169)

4 Star

(134)

3 Star

(75)

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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  • 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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  • Posted April 1, 2014

    Disappointing. Her 'ideal' prison experience seems unrealistic.

    Disappointing. Her 'ideal' prison experience seems unrealistic. The only fight she had was over lettuce at the prison salad bar. Come on, really??
    I thought Kerman could have used the opportunity to focus on how many prisoners are much less fortunate than herself. She did sprinkle a few lines about how other women would probably return to their criminal lives because they had nothing else to fall back on. I just thought the book was too much about Piper Kerman, and I think Piper Kerman really likes talking about Piper Kerman. The result is a book about an upper middle class white woman who gets caught doing something illegal. She never seems to be truly regretful. She never seems humbled by the experience- in fact she spends most of her time in prison running laps and doing yoga. Is this punishment??
    Facts about the prison system, statistics and other true bits of info would have gone a long way here.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    Dont waste your money

    The book had was boring. The character took no responsibility for how she ended up there. Not sure how it became a best seller. Anyone could have done a better job and she got paid to write this.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    disappointed, bored

    Nothing happens. I waited, read the entire book . So let down..

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014

    Boring. I heard great reviews about the the Netflix series so t

    Boring. I heard great reviews about the the Netflix series so thought I would read the book. I don't plan on finishing it. She made it sound like her experience was a sorority house adventure. Done and done.

    3 out of 3 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 January 1, 2014

    Waste of money

    I expected this to be like the Netflix series. It is very watered down and boring.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2013

    Dont waste your money on this one.

    Too many underdeveloped characters. Boring and repetitious. I have no idea why anyone would think this book could have made a good tv show. I imagine it would have had to be "spiced" up a lot to make it interesting. I coild not wait until it ended.....

    3 out of 4 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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  • Posted August 6, 2014

    This book was a huge disappointment. It was so boring to me. I

    This book was a huge disappointment. It was so boring to me. I don't know why the prison Kerman was in was so lenient. It read as if she was in a college dorm. Yet she complained about what the prison lacked. Seriously? Prison is suppose to be a punishment. Kerman thinks it's suppose to be an educational rehabilitation institution. I got news for you, Kerman. You have to pay for that. We don't want our tax money to be wasted on criminals giving them freebies.. You did your crime. You did your time...................GET OVER IT !!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    Don't waste your time!

    This book was boring. I was not impressed w/this at all. I had to force myself to finish it, it was that bad! I would NOT recommend this book to anyone!

    2 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 June 25, 2014

    Grow up, Piper

    Piper spends a lot of time whining and comlainimg while declaring she takes responsibility for her crimes. She whines that prison garb doesn't fit her, the soles of her shoes are too thin, that the food is not to her liking, on and on. Worse she sneers at the guards--if they enforce the rules they are showing no compassion oe are mean. If they don't go by the rules they are lazy. She complains they show no respect for the inmates while she makes fun of their looks and calls them Dirty Pigs.

    She highly resents being transported to another prison in handcuffs and ankle restraints--evidently forgetting she is one of the many convicted felons being guarded by just a couple guards. She is outraged that armed uniformed marshalls storm a known drug house because small children were there. Obviousy the cops should have knocked politely and explained they were there to arrest the dealers.

    Clearly she missed the special treatment she got at the five-star hotels when she was transporting all that drug money all around the world.

    Grow uo and accept you were happy to do the crime--so do the time without complainimg. And then you can move on because you're acting like a self-responsible person.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2014

    sorry I spent $5.99.

    I was waiting for this book to get better but alas.........it did not. I can count the number of books I started and didn't finish on one hand and this is one of them. She made prison sound like a country club. Blah, blah,blah, "everone was so nice and supportive" blah,blah,blah. Who cares?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2014

    Illogical Conclusions

    This convicted criminal refuses to take any kind of personal responsibility for her intentional violation of the law. She spends a lot of time blaming the government for her own foolishness; the system is at fault according to her twisted logic. She should accept the fact that she alone made the wrong choices that led to her deserved incarceration. Delivering illegal drugs is wrong, and she was the one who may have endangered other people because of her selfish act. I say skip this nonsensical book, which attempts to excuse all kinds of crime.

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    FOR PEOPLE WHO'VE WATCHED THE SHOW FIRST

    If you have watched the show first (as I did), the book is not like the show (or at least not like season 1 of the show). While the show spent a lot time developing the characters around Piper (the main character) the book did not. The book only focused on Piper which to me made the story a little lame. She did mention other inmates, but you really didn't get to meet the other inmates like she show. It wasn't the worst thing I ever read, but I was expecting it to be similar to the show, and I was pretty turned off that it wasn't.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2014

    Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of the series

    I admit that I read this book after binge watching the series on netflix, and am glad I did. I found piper unlikable in the show, but grew to appreciate her perspective and especially the deeper detail on other inmates stories through the book. A book I'm glad I purchased - both cathartic and inspirational.




    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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