Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman

Aug 17

Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman

This book represents a major departure from the norm for me. I usually read a book first, then watch the movie or tv show. This time around, I have watched all of the seasons of OITNB (oh man that riot season!) before finally reading Piper Kerman‘s book.

If you have been living under a rock (or in the SHU! prepare yourself for my prison lingo) Ms. Kerman wrote this book about her own experiences in federal prison. A Smith graduate, Piper is no run-of-the-mill prisoner. She made several poor choices in her early twenties; a decade later she is paying up for them at an institute in Danbury, Connecticut. Smart girl that she is, she keeps her head down and her eyes open. Eventually, she lets her guard down and befriends many of the ladies she meets. The big lesson she learns is that these prisons do very little in the rehabilitation department. Some of the women want to return to a life of drugs and crime, but many of the ladies are looking for guidance. How to find a job? An apartment? A support group? How to be a good parent? None of these issues are addressed, so many of the women simply return to the life that got them locked up in the first place. It is a vicious cycle.

The book is introspective and obviously judgmental of the system. I think that the author was lucky in the sense that she had a supportive family and she was at a facility that was prison, to be sure, but it was also like a girls’ sleep away camp in a lot of aspects. I can imagine there is much harder time out there. The show is, as it should be, way more fantastic and entertaining.

I am thankful that I can just read about the prison experience from afar; no way would I last in lock up.


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