Book Review #113 – Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman

Hello guys!

Here is my review for the book that inspired what is most likely one of the most famous series right now. It’s Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman.

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Synopsis:

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 ago. 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 women 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, where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated. 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, Orange Is the New Black 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.

 

Pros:

  • captivating writing
  • fun to search for the reference points for the series
  • very thought provoking, specially about the penal system, privilege, etc

 

Cons:

  • a bit self centred, even for a memoir

 

Verdict:

I’m a big big fan of the series inspired by this book so picking this was a no brainer. They are very different and although I knew that I couldn’t stop myself from searching for the similarities. And they are there and very evident, on both events and characters. But the series definitely has a lot more salt and drama. But that was ok because I think this book stands on itself really well either way. The thing that stands out the most is the writing. Kerman has a great talent for writing, and it grabs you from page one. Her voice is really honest and funny at the same time. She doesn’t try to justify her action with other than “I was clearly stupid” and I can appreciate that. Also, she often acknowledges her privilege, which doesn’t happen a lot in a white person’s memoir. She knows her prison experience is widely different from other women, and men. The thing I didn’t really appreciate a lot about OITNB is that the author can be a bit self centred at times. I know this is supposed to be a book about her and her experiences but at times she talks about some of the people she came across in those months in prison and she makes them seem so interesting, and then doesn’t get anywhere with them. She just goes back to talking about herself.

Even with that, this is definitely an interesting read. It will leave you thinking about life decisions and their consequences, besides the more obvious themes.

Are any fans of the series that have also read the book reading this? Let me know please!

See you guys soon,

Cat.

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