Friday, June 20, 2014

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

Title:  Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Author:  Piper Kerman
Publication Information:  Spiegel & Grau. 2010. 320 pages.
ISBN:  0385523386 / 978-0385523387

Book Source:  I read the book based on publicity for the Netflix show. I have not watched the TV show, however.

Favorite Quote:  "A little voice in my head reminded me that I might never see anything quite like this again, and that immersing myself in my current situation, experiencing it, and learning everything there was to know might be the way to live life, now and always."

Piper Kerman committed a crime; she got involved in drug trafficking. More than a decade after the fact, she was convicted of that crime. She went to prison for a little over a year. This memoir is her story of that year.

The book provides a little background on her crime and the trial. Primarily, it describes her time at the  minimum security federal correctional institution in Danbury, Connecticut. It describes the institution, the prison system, and the people she found there. It follows her journey until her release thirteen months later.

This book is an entertaining and often funny read. I did not expect that. It is a story about a crime and prison. I did not expect the mostly positive tone of the book. Everyone in Piper's life appears to be supportive. Most of the women she meets in prison appear to be friendly and forthcoming.

The negative thread running throughout the book is the description of the prison system - the conditions, the guards, the delays. Other than that, the description of her life there and the interactions between the prisoners almost sound like a girl's camp story - arrivals, friendships, cliques, yoga, and goodbyes. The TV show based on the book, in fact, is marketed as  "comedy-drama."

I suppose, for me, the story also does not end with Piper's release. What happened to her after? Did she walk back into her life and leave this entire experience behind except for the book and TV deal? What happened to the other women? What happened to the relationships she established during that year? Did they last or did she do what she needed to do to survive that year?

The only hint is that the dedication of the book includes "Pop," one of the other inmates. I was expecting an epilogue to provide some details of what happened after Piper left prison - to her and to the other inmates - but none exists. I have tried doing some searches, but cannot find any further information about the other inmates.

As a result, for me, the book leaves me looking for more. The book is entertaining, but I am left with wanting to know the more serious story behind the comedy.  After all, this was prison.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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