Book Thoughts: Orange is the New Black


Hey everyone I hope you’re all having a great wednesday. I have another review for you. I’m sure many of you have seen this floating around the internet, especially lately since the season 2 trailer has premiered. I’d been meaning to watch the show for some time, but when I found out this was adapted from a book-true to book nerd form- I decided to read the book first.  Here are my thoughts, and I hope you enjoy.

Orange is the New Black is Piper Kerman s memoir which is also the inspiration behind the widely popular and successful Netflix TV show of the same name. The memoir follows Kerman’s year in prison which she served for her involvement in an international drug ring. When Kerman was in her early twenties, she transported illegal drug money to Brussels. She only did this once, but ten years later it caught up with her, and landed her in the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution.

Kerman comes from a privileged background which is something that she reminds the reader of various times. She does this not to brag, but to tell us that her time was made easier because 1) She was white, 2) She was educated, 3) She had the unconditional love and support from family and friends. In prison, these three go a long way to make your stay a little bit better. Kerman provides many stories of guards giving her special treatment for being what they called a “northerner,” or how thanks to her family’s ability to send her money, she was able to purchase commissary items.

What I liked about Kerman’s story is that it isn’t a pity party. She is well aware of the fact that she did commit a crime and however drastic her punishment may seem to her, the reason she is in prison is because of her choices. It was touching to see the connection she formed with some of the women in prison. Many of which she would have never crossed passed with in her day to day life. While these woman are not innocent, and landed themselves in prison because they too committed crimes, they are also victims of the lives they’ve had to live. Kerman reflects how tragic it is that many of this woman will end up right back in prison because they don’t have the support needed to truly rehabilitate themselves. That may sound sympathetic to people who commit crimes, or blaming their behavior on others, but when a society has repeatedly closed its doors to you. then you have learn to protect yourself in other ways. I think Kerman showed how that is the case for many.

Much of the book is also a factual account of prison life. We learn what what life in prison is like, from terminology, to rooming assignments, and buying commissary goods. The book also gives monetary facts about how much of our tax dollars are spent in maintaining prisoners and facilities.

Kerman writing is very clean not dramatic in any way. It is her memoir, so it is a reflection of her life and journey, and yet she also managed to tell various others’ stories. Not surprisingly the books has a very claustrophobic feel to it which is an appropriate tone for prison life.

I would have enjoyed an epilogue where we get to see how Kerman adjusted to life outside of prison, or even if she maintained any contact with her fellow inmates.

Overall a very well told memoir which is both educational and cautionary.

I have seen some of the show on Netflix, and I find it entertaining and well done, However, I will say that Netflix did take a lot of liberties with the show. Still worth watching.

Thanks for reading!



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