Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women's Prison by Piper KermanOrange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women's Prison by Piper Kerman

Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women's Prison

byPiper Kerman

Paperback | March 8, 2011

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With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.
Praise for Orange Is the New Black
“Fascinating . . . The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can’t unbind.”People (four stars)
“I loved this book. It’s a story rich with humor, pathos, and redemption. What I did not expect from this memoir was the affection, compassion, and even reverence that Piper Kerman demonstrates for all the women she encountered while she was locked away in jail. I will never forget it.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“This book is impossible to put down because [Kerman] could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter.”Los Angeles Times
“Moving . . . transcends the memoir genre’s usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you.”USA Today
“It’s a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one—both for the reader and for Kerman.”Newsweek
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
Piper Kerman is vice president of a Washington, D.C.–based communications firm that works with foundations and nonprofits. A graduate of Smith College, she lives in Brooklyn.
Title:Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women's PrisonFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:352 pages, 8 × 5.19 × 0.75 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.19 × 0.75 inPublished:March 8, 2011Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385523394

ISBN - 13:9780385523394


Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just OK I think we're all a little overcritical having the TV show to compare it to. On its own, the book is still a fascinating account and a VERY quick read.
Date published: 2018-08-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Skip it I really did not enjoy this book. I read it long before the TV show came about and found it a whiny tail by a girl who couldn't take the blame for her actions. I don't understand why people rave about it, and why it's on so many must read lists. The show follows the book for the first season and then goes off on it's own, makes sense since it isn't a very big book. Even the show has gotten a bit out of control recently.
Date published: 2018-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from fast and interesting read Great book, couldnt put this book down. #plumreviews
Date published: 2018-06-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting book title Very well written book. as i surprise they make the TV series on Netflix.
Date published: 2018-06-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The TV show ruined the book It may have been a good book if I hadn’t been expecting to see something closer to “orange is the new black” TV show. Because thats what there both called. So if your looking to see something close to the show this isnt even a little bit. All thats really the same is Piper’s back story. There’s no her and Alex or “crazy eyes” or anything. I read books really fast, i can usually read 2 a day, this one took me 2 days to read because it was so boring!
Date published: 2018-05-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from pretty good read, not as good as the show the show is super entertaining and laugh out loud hilarious so i expected the book to be similar. though it is nowhere near as addicting as the show, the book is quite a solid read and enjoyable.
Date published: 2018-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Everyone knows that most times reading the book is going to be different then either the movie or tv show. This book is no different. I just wish i read the book before as i found myself skipping pages cause the book was not told the same exciting way the tv showed. But it was a good read
Date published: 2018-02-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Memoir The book was interesting. I think it is a good read if you are into biographies and the prison system. I preferred watching the show than reading the book.
Date published: 2018-01-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from No I can never get behind a memoir where really all the author did was vacation in someone else's life. And then use that to sell books. Gross
Date published: 2018-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from awesome this book is amazing I love how it the story is based on real life facts
Date published: 2017-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read Good read based on real life experience.
Date published: 2017-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great story I liked how the book covered some of the issues of inequality that would lead a lot of disadvantaged people to prison and the injustice of the criminal justice system. While it really doesn't probe these issues as well as other books, I really liked that it was easy to read and accessible. I hope that it might be a book that would teach someone who would not normally pick up a book about social justice something they hadn't thought of before..
Date published: 2017-11-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting... I'm not going to lie, it took me months to get through this book. That being said, I think it was worth the read. Piper delves into how she survived prison and talks about various issues plaguing the US prison system. It's a lot different than the Netflix series, so be warned that there are a lot less lesbian sex scenes and political statements than in the show. Overall, good read! #plumreview
Date published: 2017-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interested I have recently purchased this book after watching the netflix series over and over cannot wait to read the book that inspired it all
Date published: 2017-09-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth the read Very different from the Netflix series, but well worth the read anyways. The story is only about Piper's perception, while the television series explores other characters background stories. The television series took things that did happen in the book, but they embellished it and added drama. Still an excellent story with a great message, while enlightening us about the American prison system.
Date published: 2017-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved the book! Different from the series, though there are similarities, but still a very interesting read. And very informative about the women's prison through the eyes of a regular inmate. Loved how she described the 3 sleeping dorms and the guards rules vs inmate rules, not to mention some how some prison things are overlooked and others reinforced depending on who it is on either end. A definite MUST read. Everyone has a story and she gives a voice to several who are behind bars.
Date published: 2017-08-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worth the time Different from the series on netflix but well worth the time to read.
Date published: 2017-07-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from pretty good pretty good book. the show is better
Date published: 2017-05-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from FASCINATING Was interesting to hear about the inner workings of the prison and the different social aspects, as well. I thought the book was very well written and intriguing.
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very different from the show I watched the show before I decided to read the book for book club. It was a lot dryer, I didn't realize the show was so sensationalized. If you are planning to read this and haven't seen the show it will be a light read with mild drama. If you have seen the show and are now planning to read the book you will be disappointed, it isn't even a third as dramatic.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from a different read I read this book for a sociology class in university, not sure what to expect..definitely glad I read this before the series came out and not the other way around.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from No thanks. Like a lot of people, the tv series had me wanting to read the book. I didn't expect it to be exactly the same but I was hoping it'd be as enjoyable. It wasn't. It took me so long because it was just the worst. It wasn't written very well and the main character was entitled and annoying. Like, get over yourself. Complete waste of time.
Date published: 2017-03-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Highschool Read? Although a good read it has taken me FOREVER to get through this book. I think it is a great book that should be incorporated in High School classes as a "must read" as it shows how small crimes can still effect you years later. Over all I found the book dry, boring, and not very descriptive. (Other then the shower scene of Piper describing the state of the showers in the facility - EW!) I would still recommend the book but would warn people that it will take a while to get through!
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not as engaging as Netflix series Yes this book forms the basis of the world of Whitfield that we know and love from Netflix. However, it doesn't have the depth or the emotion that the series does. Many details from the series to the book are changed, so if you're a die-hard OITNB fan, you will be disappointed.
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from love loved it Love prison movies. Totally enjoyed the book, better than the movie.
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from thumbs down This book did not even live up to the TV show it's based on - perhaps I should have read it before and not after starting the series.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So much better than the show! I may be among the few that loved this book so much more than the show. The show has so much drama and outrageous antics. I wanted to know the true story, because the show couldn't possibly be anywhere near the truth. This book did not disappoint.
Date published: 2017-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great memoir I'm glad I read this book!
Date published: 2017-01-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting but not overly exciting I really enjoyed learning about the other people she met and more about the inner workings of prisons, but I found Piper to be a bit dull. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not my favourite #plumreview I didn't enjoy the characters or story as much as I had anticipated.
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book MUCH better than the series and worth a read regardless of whether you are a fan. Funny, introspective and fascinating. I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from love this such an amazing read and amazing show!!
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from the best such an amazing read and amazing show!!
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different This is not the book I was expecting after watching the series on Netflix. Took me a while to get through it.
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great book but not like the show This book is not overt drama like the Netflix series however it is an interesting look at the U.S prison system and worth a read #PlumReview
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Show Own the book, show really brings it to life
Date published: 2016-12-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Good little memoir, the show takes it to a whole new level but it was nice to read the real stories and perspectives
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dont watch the show first. I think what ruined this book for me was watching the show first. They obviously add a lot to the show to keep it interesting for multiple seasons. The book definitely doesn't have as much drama they you would expect if you have seen the show. If you haven't already watched the show... read the book first!
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Book, Very different From Show! I suggest reading this book before watching the show! There are many characters that are portrayed differently or are new, dramatic characters that have been added in the show. The book definitely has drama, but not as malicious. I really like how Piper talks about the prison system in the USA surrounding unnecessary incarceration of those with petty drug crimes. She suggests that there needs to be a lot more emphasis on therapeutic and community integration programs, to which I agree. However, there are some parts of the book that just seemed almost TOO positive. She gives a really interesting perspective of jail as a white, upper-middle class prisoner with lots of support.
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Ugh I watched the first two seasons of the show, and couldn't stand the Piper character because of how full of herself she was. After reading the book, I realized Taylor Schilling played the part perfectly, actually making her more likeable than the book did. I wanted to like her but just couldn't. I found the real Piper to be so insufferable at points - i.e. page 223 when she literally believes she broke the Red Sox curse. You'd think that would be a joke, but i TRULY believe she would think that. ugh. I wanted to read a book about what prison is actually like, and found out that if you get sent to Danbury, it won't be that bad at all. So that's good news. Just watch the show instead!!!
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth a read I found it really intriguing and grounded.
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read I quite enjoyed this book. After reading I thought I watch it on Netflix and found that it was impossible as the two were so different.
Date published: 2016-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it BEFORE you watch it! Good book but I wish I'd read it before watching it. I spent so much time comparing the 2, the depth of the narrative was almost lost. I love that someone so unexpected could share an experience like Piper's.
Date published: 2015-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but incomplete This is probably the first time I will say this, but the TV show is better then the book. I understand that the book is closer to the truth and that the TV show is different to draw in audience. But I think what really makes the difference is the fact that there should have been an extra chapter. One where you get to find a little bit more about the other characters and what happened to them, like pop(red), big boo, yoga Janet or even pensatucky.
Date published: 2015-07-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Similar but not I wasn't quite sure what to expect, basing it off of the show. I do prefer the TV series but did enjoy the book
Date published: 2015-06-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Orange is the New Black Everyone is raving about the Netflix tv series Orange is the New Black and friends kept telling me that I have to start watching it. So I finally gave in and said that I would, but I needed to read the book first. Everyone's first reaction was "There is a book?" Yes there is a book. So instead of basing a review on comparing the tv show to the book I needed to do the opposite. After finishing the book I then watched the 2 seasons of the show in just a few sittings. While the tv show is solely for entertainment purposes the book is fact, and I enjoy that much more. Not saying I didn't enjoy the tv show, I just find it quite far fetched to what prison is actually like (although I can't say for sure having never been there.) I really enjoyed Piper's story of having to fess up to a crime that she committed nearly 10 years ago and reading about how she dealt and coped with her ordeal. I found the "characters" she encountered while in prison quite entertaining and liked seeing prison through her eyes - from someone who you wouldn't think would land them self in prison. Was it a memoir that tugged at my heart strings and left me wanting more? No, not at all. While I did enjoy the read it wasn't one that I probably would have read without encouragement. I felt like the ending was a little rushed and just abruptly ended and I would have liked to seen an afterward of where she is now
Date published: 2015-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing and eye opening! I loved "Orange is the new black" book and television show, however both are quiet different. The TV show is more theatrical, where the book really gives you the true scope of what it must have been like for Piper in prison. As I have never experienced incarceration, I had never truly understood the conditions of prison and what it must be like for all those people to live behind bars. It speaks to the issues prisons in the US have. Lack of rehabilitation programs, the scary power dynamics, and the true people living behind.
Date published: 2015-03-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not explicit like the show. After flying through the first season of the show I had several months to wait until the second season was released, so I thought I'd read the book. From the start it is evident that the show is VERY loosely based on Piper's real account, yet I couldn't help but read it in Taylor Schilling's voice. I found the real Piper to be more likeable than her fictional self. It was also very evident by the way this book was written that she took much more away from her experience then she had anticipated. It was amusing how Piper studied what prison was like before she self surrendered, thinking that she was preparing herself. She went in readying herself for a long and lonely year of keeping to herself and not trusting anyone. Only to learn that things were much different than she thought they'd be. It turned out that the women she met and shared a life with would help her to turn this negative situation into something positive that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. I was pleasantly surprised that the book wasn't as nearly explicit as I expected after watching the show. This was a wise choice on the authors part because I think had it been so, it would have taken away from the point of the book. That being said I am still a fan of the show and as I read along noticed the different inmates and stories that would influence the plot lines. I give Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, 3 stars. I thought it was well written and kept my attention. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the show and also to people who enjoy reading about strong women.
Date published: 2015-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Orange Is the New Political Statement I will start by saying that I really did like this book and I love the show that it has spawned. On the surface, OITNB is the wonderfully told story of one woman's graceful navigation of prison and it's complex workings. Piper's story and the stories of her fellow inmates are a tremendous reminder that everybody makes mistakes but that doesn't necessarily mean that we are all bad people. Deeper down though, the book tends to become a bit preachy about how terrible it is to have your human rights taken away from you while you are in prison, how the rampant racism and how the blatant dickheadedness of the guards is really unfair to people that have broken the law. There are a few statistics thrown into the mix and the result is something that is equal parts whiney criminal, politics and heartbreaking tales of women separated from their families. All in all this book begs its reader to answer this question: Have any of these women truly learned anything from their mistakes?
Date published: 2014-12-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An entertaining memoir. While markedly different than the Netflix series that this memoir inspired, Orange is the New Black is an entertaining read that delves into the gritty reality of prison life, and the prison system. If you're a fan of the TV series, this book provides an interesting look at the real life prisoners that inspired the characters of the show, and a little extra detail on some of the scenes you've seen on the show. Overall, Kerman's writing is engaging, accessible, insightful, and just plain interesting.
Date published: 2014-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic Rich girl goes to prison drama I devoured this book last year with the buzz of the Netflix series. You will notice glaring discrepancies amongst both. This book is hilarious, showing the different female characters that are in a low security, all female prison. Hierarchies, friendship, love, strength are all present in this memoir written by Piper Kerman.
Date published: 2014-11-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth Reading I just finished reading Orange is the New Black. I got a used copy of it and wouldn?t recommend buying it new, but if you can get a used copy or borrow a copy from a library, it?s an interesting fast read. One thing for sure, the show has taken some dramatic liberties with the story, but you?ll recognize some of the characters that are mentioned to a mostly lesser extent. Not sure how I would have felt about the book if I hadn?t seen the series first. I agree with a lot of reviewers, as much as it IS an interesting book, the series, with its dramatic liberties IS better than the book, way more captivating, but the book is still worth the read.
Date published: 2014-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Orange is the new black Very good, eye opener.
Date published: 2014-09-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Orange is the new black Very good, eye opener.
Date published: 2014-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than the show I just finished reading "Orange is the new Black" and I liked it much better than the show. The book dispenses of all the high drama and really delves into Piper's emotional experience, her connection to her fellow inmates, and the disfunctionality of the US prison system. Where the show is entertainment, the book is both compelling nonfiction & a call to action.
Date published: 2014-08-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from B O R I N G I thought I would love this book! Just the opposite....No matter what book I am reading I always try to finish it even when it is boring but this was beyond ....I was skipping pages because I was so bored with halfway through and couldn't take anymore...a lot of writing about nothing its what I read...I would not recommend this book!
Date published: 2014-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Divorce your mind from tv... Not the TV series in any way other than the title, yet entertaining and thought provoking. A quick and good read.
Date published: 2014-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Insightful People say the book is always better than the movie. In this case the book and TV show are very different. It is clear that for purposes of television, the Netflix series is much more dramatic and much of it has been fictionalized. If you are expecting the book to be "as exciting" as the show then you will be disappointed. However, the book itself is a fabulous read and it really gives insight into what life in a female prison is really like, without the antics of Hollywood. The memoir was very well written and was a very interesting read. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the show or in the prison system. I finished it in a few hours, it was hard to put down.
Date published: 2014-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shona Loved this book.
Date published: 2014-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a good one I read it because everyone I knew was watched ng the show but I couldn't find time. I thought it would help me be part of the club, but now I'm on team book-is-better-than-tv :-
Date published: 2014-07-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I expected I must say---I read through this book quickly because it was very interesting! However, I didn't understand the hype. Many people have watched the show on Netflix and said it was amazing, so I was looking forward to reading the book first. I would still recommend this book though.
Date published: 2014-07-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The one time the adaptation is better than the novel. The novel is intriguing in terms of the storyline but it lacks depth. I feel as though the novel simply grazes the surface and is superficial at best. I wanted more from this self-reflection on prision life. While Piper's experiences are interesting there is no intelligence behind them. The writing was that of a novice. If you are looking for a light easy read this is the book for you. But be aware there is no sense of self within the writing. Having watched numerous documentaries on life in prision; primarly withiin the world of women prisions, I wanted more from the the mindset and hardships. Prision life is anything but easy and while at times many individuals have acted in such a way that prision is nessessary, for many there is no justice behind their sentencing. I have only begun to watch the television adaptatin but thus far I am more intrigued with the adaptation of the memoir as oppose to the novel.
Date published: 2014-07-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting read Fascinating subject matter and poignant characterization but the tone and organization still feel unfinished.
Date published: 2014-06-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Orange is the new black Was alright. Got a bit better at the end.
Date published: 2014-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! Good read...get an insider's perspective. If you think the television series is too crude, the book is not at all.
Date published: 2014-05-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Honest Account of Life in Prison In 1993, Piper Kerman had just graduated from college when she fell for the wrong girl: Nora was an older woman who was involved in an international drug smuggling ring. Piper started following her girlfriend in her frequent trips, and one day Nora asked her to smuggle a suitcase full of money from the United States to Belgium. When her baggage was almost lost in transit, Piper realized she was in way over her head, and she escaped and settled in San Francisco. Her short criminal past was behind her, and she was going to build a new life. She started a relationship with a new boyfriend, Larry Smith, and after a while they decided to move to New York. Five years later, two Customs agents showed up at her door: she was indicted for money laundering and drug trafficking. In 2004, after years of legal proceedings, she was sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison, 13 months with good behavior. Orange is the New Black tells her story behind bars in a minimum-security facility in Danbury, CT. Piper Kerman writes honestly about her experience as an inmate. She tells the reader about her fears and loneliness at the beginning of her sentence. In movies or on TV, prison is always depicted as a very violent place, but that's not what the author has experienced. In fact, women show a surprising solidarity in prison, and Piper Kerman makes many friends during her 13-month incarceration. Sometimes it is a little hard keeping track of all the people mentioned in the book, as inmates arrive in prison, are released or are transferred somewhere else all the time. In the end, this book allows the author to denounce the failing of the prison system in the US. For example, it costs between $20,000 to $50,000 per year to keep one inmate in prison, and most of the prisoners are non-violent offenders who could do community service instead. Piper Kerman also points out that reinsertion programs are almost non-existent for people who come out of prison. Most prisoners are not as lucky as her when they are released. She had a boyfriend, an apartment and a job waiting for her, but most former inmates don't have any of that, and that's why recidivism is so high. Orange is the New Black was a really interesting read, and I learnt a lot about prison. In addition, I really admire Piper Kerman for staying positive during this awful experience and for her activism since her release. Please go to my blog, Cecile Sune - Bookobsessed, if you would like to read more reviews or discover fun facts about books and authors.
Date published: 2014-04-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Orange is the new black This book took me by surprise, I expected raunchier material, more fights and lesbianism, and what I got was philosophy on the way women support each other behind bars. It was a great read, though quick, and I would recommend the read. I have now moved onto the Netflix version =P can't get enough!
Date published: 2014-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title is a wee bit of a mistery. Well worth the read.
Date published: 2014-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Orange is the new black Great book! Loved it from start to finish
Date published: 2014-03-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Series is Way Better Finished reading the book and started watching the series because I did enjoy the book somewhat. I am not sure if the author left out a lot in the book or that the series just went crazy with the story line. In all honesty I did prefer the first season it was more interesting and more exciting I kept waiting for the next episode, while I did not have that eager feeling for each new chapter.
Date published: 2014-02-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Started good The book started good then turned pretty boring and became more about the system and less about time spent in side . I recommend just watching the show its way better.
Date published: 2014-02-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring This was not well-written and not very interesting.
Date published: 2014-02-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Orange is the New Black Interesting account of a young female inmate. My book club tells me that the book lacks the spice that the TV series portrays.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An inside look This was an interesting and candid inside look at the female prison system. Ultimately it is more about the relationships Piper forms with her fellow inmates than it is the drama of what actually transpires. In fact, a surprising criticism is the almost total lack of drama. The book plodded along, and while interesting, the plot (if you can have a "plot" in a memoir) doesn't ebb and flow toward any big event. My biggest takeaway from the book was Piper's narrative on how the prison system does little (ok, nothing in her view) to prepare prisoners for re-intergration with the outside world. This is starkly portrayed and entirely dismaying. In sum, I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to watching its reincarnation Hollywood-style for netflix.
Date published: 2014-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Orange is the New Black This book shpould be mandatory reading for high school students!!!  Excellent!
Date published: 2013-12-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting bio When I heard Netflix was turning a memoir into an original series for their viewers I was intrigued. Orange is the New Black is the story of Piper Kerman, who served just a year in a women’s minimum-security prison. Being the nerdy person I am, I refused to start watching the series until I read the book, despite the shining endorsement a friend gave the former. Kerman’s story is about how she was young and looking for adventure and got caught up with the wrong crowd. She dated a woman who was involved with a drug dealer and Kerman helped her girlfriend move money across Europe. Kerman quickly tired of that life and moved away. She ended up dating a man and moving to New York when the feds show up years later and arrest her for drug trafficking. Eventually, she’s sentenced to 15 months in a women’s prison.  Kerman’s experience is interesting as she interacts with women of all walks of life. She also learns valuable life lessons while in there, like realizing that her actions still impacted the lives of those who were drug addicts or had family involved in drugs, even if she wasn’t doing drugs moving drugs herself. Kerman tends to get repetitive when she talks about her family and her fiancé. She continuously talks about how her actions impacted them and how grateful and impressed she was with their unconditional love and support.  It was a very easy read, for a biography. I found I was able to breeze through the book and enjoyed her look into what happened in the prison system and her glimpse into the women who were incarcerated with her. She does an excellent job of making her fellow prisoners sympathetic. You want them to get out of jail and succeed, but Kerman paints the picture that the United States Department of Correction does not prepare the women properly. Now that I’m done the book, I can finally watch the show. I spoke with my friend about what was happening in the show and from what she told me, I think the show might deviate quite a bit from the book. But that won’t stop me from wanting to see Piper Kerman’s story come to life through the TV.
Date published: 2013-11-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Ok story I'm reading this, and only finished it, for my book club. The concept is good, the situation lends itself to a really good story, but the writing is quite poor in that it is superficial and disjointed which is a let down considering this is about this woman's life and a first time imprisonment. Lots of opportunity for emotion, imagery, interesting characters and story lines, but none of that really happens. She writes about a situation and tells you how mad she was, but there is no emotion in her writing that would lead the reader to that emotion. I'm not sure I would recommend this to anybody. I guess the upside is that it is a quick, simple, fluff read.
Date published: 2013-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Throughly enjoyed this read For someone that doesn't usually read biographies, I couldn't put this book down. I was (like most people) intrigued by the story as I saw the preview on Netflix. Although this is the more realistic read, I could do without some of the over-the-top dramatizations on the show...however, I understand the need to be appealing to all audiences. The book is clearly the 'clean' version.
Date published: 2013-10-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and well written This is a very well written and engaging book. It pulls you in right at the first page and holds your interest throughout most of the book. It did drag in some spots and was repetitive in others. What struck me was it seemed the author didn't think her crime was serious enough to result in doing time. She repeatedly tucked in little comments about small time crimes, unfair mandatory sentencing and blaming others for her decisions. The fact of the matter is, she smuggled drug money and that is a crime. The only part of the book that made me think she really understood how serious her crime was is this statement: "what made me finally recognize the indifferent cruelty of my own past actions wasn't the constraint put on me by the government, nor the fact that I could not be with the man I loved. It was sitting and talking and working with and knowing the people who suffered because of what people like me had done." I'm glad she learned something from being in prison and seeing the damage "people like her" have done and continue to do to other people. Hopefully other people who have been sent to prison will learn from their mistakes also. The author also mentioned several times that the prison did not offer the opportunity for inmates to learn transferable skills- skills to take with them when they leave prison and need to survive on the outside. However, I feel she contradicts herself when she makes this statement because much of the book is about the work and the classes she took part in while in prison. Construction, electrical, plumbing, GED, cooking, cleaning, job fairs, business classes, dog training- all of these programs offer transferable skills. I liked that she listed many organizations that exist to help families in need and to help inmates who are re-entering the community succeed. I wonder if she still keeps in contact with some of the "friends" she made while in prison or if those women were just friends of circumstance. She is now in a position to help a lot of people, I hope she takes advantage of the opportunity to do so. Overall, it was an interesting read. It was different to read about the prison experience from a 'woman of privilege' point of view.
Date published: 2013-09-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beware : Not the story you were anticipating.... While this is a good read with an inspiring ending it is not the sensationalised story you may have watched on Netflix. The Netflix series is very dramatic with many topical issues affecting the characters, however most of these issues do not exist in the book. It is a great story in terms of the drama Piper is facing and the issues that arise from her choices . I really like that it is a jumping off point for raising awareness of the plight of others with references for what to do , how and where . However,it does not hook you in like the drama of the relationships in the series. I strongly recommend the book be read before the series is watched. Apparently Fiction is more entertaining than fact....
Date published: 2013-08-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different from the Netflix series but worth reading I bought the book after watching the series on Netflix, based on this book. The series is much more exciting because it is not only about Piper. They added lots of drama. They have stories involving the other characters. The book is rather positive about her experience, because of the support she had from many people. What is very good in the book is her vision of the prison system in the USA. There are too many people in prison for small crimes. It is the same in Canada and it is costing us a lot of money. She has a section in the end giving information about some possible help that is available. She insists a lot about the fact that her situation was very different from what other women in prison were living. They had nothing waiting for them on the outside. The book is very well written. As I write this review, the price for the book is very good here even taking into account the shipping cost. The paperback was easy to read and I would not buy the hardcover version. This is not an exceptional book that you will read over and over.
Date published: 2013-08-01

Read from the Book

Chapter OneAre You Gonna Go My Way?International baggage claim in the Brussels airport was large and airy, with multiple carousels circling endlessly. I scurried from one to another, desperately trying to find my black suitcase. Because it was stuffed with drug money, I was more concerned than one might normally be about lost luggage.I was twenty-three in 1993 and probably looked like just another anxious young professional woman. My Doc Martens had been jettisoned in favor of beautiful handmade black suede heels. I wore black silk pants and a beige jacket, a typical jeune fille, not a bit counterculture, unless you spotted the tattoo on my neck. I had done exactly as I had been instructed, checking my bag in Chicago through Paris, where I had to switch planes to take a short flight to Brussels.When I arrived in Belgium, I looked for my black rollie at the baggage claim. It was nowhere to be seen. Fighting a rushing tide of panic, I asked in my mangled high school French what had become of my suitcase. “Bags don’t make it onto the right flight sometimes,” said the big lug working in baggage handling. “Wait for the next shuttle from Paris—it’s probably on that plane.”Had my bag been detected? I knew that carrying more than $10,000 undeclared was illegal, let alone carrying it for a West African drug lord. Were the authorities closing in on me? Maybe I should try to get through customs and run? Or perhaps the bag really was just delayed, and I would be abandoning a large sum of money that belonged to someone who could probably have me killed with a simple phone call. I decided that the latter choice was slightly more terrifying. So I waited.The next flight from Paris finally arrived. I sidled over to my new “friend” in baggage handling, who was sorting things out. It is hard to flirt when you’re frightened. I spotted the suitcase. “Mon bag!” I exclaimed in ecstasy, seizing the Tumi. I thanked him effusively, waving with giddy affection as I sailed through one of the unmanned doors into the terminal, where I spotted my friend Billy waiting for me. I had inadvertently skipped customs.“I was worried. What happened?” Billy asked.“Get me into a cab!” I hissed.I didn’t breathe until we had pulled away from the airport and were halfway across Brussels.My graduation processional at Smith College the year before was on a perfect New England spring day. In the sun-dappled quad, bagpipes whined and Texas governor Ann Richards exhorted my classmates and me to get out there and show the world what kind of women we were. My family was proud and beaming as I took my degree. My freshly separated parents were on their best behavior, my stately southern grandparents pleased to see their oldest grandchild wearing a mortarboard and surrounded by WASPs and ivy, my little brother bored out of his mind. My more organized and goal-oriented classmates set off for their graduate school programs or entry-level jobs at nonprofits, or they moved back home—not uncommon during the depths of the first Bush recession.I, on the other hand, stayed on in Northampton, Massachusetts. I had majored in theater, much to the skepticism of my father and grandfather. I came from a family that prized education. We were a clan of doctors and lawyers and teachers, with the odd nurse, poet, or judge thrown into the mix. After four years of study I still felt like a dilettante, underqualified and unmotivated for a life in the theater, but neither did I have an alternate plan, for academic studies, a meaningful career, or the great default—law school.I wasn’t lazy. I had always worked hard through my college jobs in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, winning the affection of my bosses and coworkers via sweat, humor, and a willingness to work doubles. Those jobs and those people were more my speed than many of the people I had met at college. I was glad that I had chosen Smith, a college full of smart and dynamic women. But I was finished with what was required of me by birth and background. I had chafed within the safe confines of Smith, graduating by a narrow margin, and I longed to experience, experiment, investigate. It was time for me to live my own life.I was a well-educated young lady from Boston with a thirst for bohemian counterculture and no clear plan. But I had no idea what to do with all my pent-up longing for adventure, or how to make my eagerness to take risks productive. No scientific or analytical bent was evident in my thinking—what I valued was artistry and effort and emotion. I got an apartment with a fellow theater grad and her nutty artist girlfriend, and a job waiting tables at a microbrewery. I bonded with fellow waitrons, bartenders, and musicians, all equally nubile and constantly clad in black. We worked, we threw parties, we went skinny-dipping or sledding, we fucked, sometimes we fell in love. We got tattoos.I enjoyed everything Northampton and the surrounding Pioneer Valley had to offer. I ran for miles and miles on country lanes, learned how to carry a dozen pints of beer up steep stairs, indulged in numerous romantic peccadilloes with appetizing girls and boys, and journeyed to Provincetown for midweek beach excursions on my days off throughout the summer and fall.When winter set in, I began to grow uneasy. My friends from school told me about their jobs and their lives in New York, Washington, and San Francisco, and I wondered what the hell I was doing. I knew I wasn’t going back to Boston. I loved my family, but the fallout of my parents’ divorce was something I wanted to avoid completely. In retrospect a EuroRail ticket or volunteering in Bangladesh would have been brilliant choices, but I stayed stuck in the Valley.Among our loose social circle was a clique of impossibly stylish and cool lesbians in their mid-thirties. These worldly and sophisticated older women made me feel uncharacteristically shy, but when several of them moved in next door to my apartment, we became friends. Among them was a raspy-voiced midwesterner named Nora Jansen who had a mop of curly sandy-brown hair. Nora was short and looked a bit like a French bulldog, or maybe a white Eartha Kitt. Everything about her was droll—her drawling, wisecracking husky voice, the way she cocked her head to look at you with bright brown eyes from under her mop, even the way she held her ever-present cigarette, wrist flexed and ready for gesture. She had a playful, watchful way of drawing a person out, and when she paid you attention, it felt as if she were about to let you in on a private joke. Nora was the only one of that group of older women who paid any attention to me. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but in Northampton, to a twenty-two-year-old looking for adventure, she was a figure of intrigue.And then, in the fall of 1992, she was gone.She reappeared after Christmas. Now she rented a big apartment of her own, furnished with brand-new Arts and Crafts–style furniture and a killer stereo. Everyone else I knew was sitting on thrift store couches with their roommates, while she was throwing money around in a way that got attention.Nora asked me out for a drink, just the two of us, which was a first. Was it a date? Perhaps it was, because she took me to the bar of the Hotel Northampton, the closest local approximation to a swank hotel lounge, painted pale green with white trelliswork everywhere. I nervously ordered a margarita with salt, at which Nora arched a brow.“Sort of chilly for a marg?” she commented, as she asked for a scotch.It was true, the January winds were making western Massachusetts uninviting. I should have ordered something dark in a smaller glass—my frosty margarita now seemed ridiculously juvenile.“What’s that?” she asked, indicating the little metal box I had placed on the table.The box was yellow and green and had originally held Sour Lemon pastilles. Napoleon gazed westward from its lid, identifiable by his cocked hat and gold epaulettes. The box had served as a wallet for a woman I’d known at Smith, an upperclasswoman who was the coolest person I had ever met. She had gone to art school, lived off campus, was wry and curious and kind and superhip, and one day when I had admired the box, she gave it to me. It was the perfect size for a pack of cigarettes, a license, and a twenty. When I tried to pull money out of my treasured tin wallet to pay for the round, Nora waved it away.Where had she been for so many months? I asked, and Nora gave me an appraising once-over. She calmly explained to me that she had been brought into a drug-smuggling enterprise by a friend of her sister, who was “connected,” and that she had gone to Europe and been formally trained in the ways of the underworld by an American art dealer who was also “connected.” She had smuggled drugs into this country and been paid handsomely for her work.I was completely floored. Why was Nora telling me this? What if I went to the police? I ordered another drink, half-certain that Nora was making the entire thing up and that this was the most harebrained seduction attempt ever.I had met Nora’s younger sister once before, when she came to visit. She went by the name of Hester, was into the occult, and would leave a trail of charms and feathered trinkets made of chicken bones. I thought she was just a Wiccan heterosexual version of her sister, but apparently she was the lover of a West African drug kingpin. Nora described how she had traveled with Hester to Benin to meet the kingpin, who went by the name Alaji and bore a striking resemblance to MC Hammer. She had stayed as a guest at his compound, witnessed and been subject to “witch-doctor” ministrations, and was now considered his sister-in-law. It all sounded dark, awful, scary, wild—and exciting beyond belief. I couldn’t believe that she, the keeper of so many terrifying and tantalizing secrets, was taking me into her confidence.It was as if by revealing her secrets to me, Nora had bound me to her, and a secretive courtship began. No one would call Nora a classic beauty, but she had wit and charm in excess and was a master at the art of seeming effortlessness. And as has always been true, I respond to people who come after me with clear determination. In her seduction of me, she was both persistent and patient.Over the months that followed, we grew much closer, and I learned that a number of local guys I knew were secretly working for her, which proved reassuring to me. I was entranced by the illicit adventure Nora represented. When she was in Europe or Southeast Asia for a long period of time, I all but moved into her house, caring for her beloved black cats, Edith and Dum-Dum. She would call at odd hours of the night from the other side of the globe to see how the kitties were, and the phone line would click and hiss with the distance. I kept all this quiet—even as I was dodging questions from my already-curious friends.Since business was conducted out of town, the reality of the drugs felt like a complete abstraction to me. I didn’t know anyone who used heroin; and the suffering of addiction was not something I thought about. One day in the spring Nora returned home with a brand-new white Miata convertible and a suitcase full of money. She dumped the cash on the bed and rolled around in it, naked and giggling. It was her biggest payout yet. Soon I was zipping around in that Miata, with Lenny Kravitz on the tape deck demanding to know, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”Despite (or perhaps because of) the bizarre romantic situation with Nora, I knew I needed to get out of Northampton and do something. My friend Lisa B. and I had been saving our tips and decided that we would quit our jobs at the brewery and take off for San Francisco at the end of the summer. (Lisa knew nothing about Nora’s secret activities.) When I told Nora, she replied that she would love to have an apartment in San Francisco and suggested that we fly out there and house-hunt. I was shocked that she felt so strongly about me.Just weeks before I was to leave Northampton, Nora learned that she had to return to Indonesia. “Why don’t you come with me, keep me company?” she suggested. “You don’t have to do anything, just hang out.”I had never been out of the United States. Although I was supposed to begin my new life in California, the prospect was irresistible. I wanted an adventure, and Nora had one on offer. Nothing bad had ever happened to the guys from Northampton who had gone with her to exotic places as errand boys—in fact, they returned with high-flying stories that only a select group could even hear. I rationalized that there was no harm in keeping Nora company. She gave me money to purchase a ticket from San Francisco to Paris and said there would be a ticket to Bali waiting for me at the Garuda Air counter at Charles de Gaulle. It was that simple.Nora’s cover for her illegal activities was that she and her partner in crime, a goateed guy named Jack, were starting an art and literary magazine—questionable, but it lent itself to vagueness. When I explained to my friends and family that I was moving to San Francisco and would be working and traveling for the magazine, they were uniformly surprised and suspicious of my new job, but I rebuffed their questions, adopting the air of a woman of mystery. As I drove out of Northampton headed west with my buddy Lisa, I felt as if I were finally embarking on my life. I felt ready for anything.Lisa and I drove nonstop from Massachusetts to the Montana border, taking turns sleeping and driving. In the middle of the night we pulled into a rest stop to sleep, where we awoke to see the incredible golden eastern Montana dawn. I could not remember ever being so happy. After lingering in Big Sky country, we sped through Wyoming and Nevada until finally we sailed over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. I had a plane to catch.

Editorial Reviews

“Fascinating . . . The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can’t unbind.”—People (four stars)   “I loved this book. It’s a story rich with humor, pathos, and redemption. What I did not expect from this memoir was the affection, compassion, and even reverence that Piper Kerman demonstrates for all the women she encountered while she was locked away in jail. I will never forget it.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love   “This book is impossible to put down because [Kerman] could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter.”—Los Angeles Times   “Moving . . . transcends the memoir genre’s usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you.”—USA Today   “It’s a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one—both for the reader and for Kerman.”—Newsweek