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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating insight to a world worth avoiding
Anyone spending any time online during 2013 will have struggled not to notice a TV series called 'Orange is the New Black', which was the most viewed show commissioned by Netflix (a comedy filmed by Lionsgate) during the year. I had a holiday coming up as autumn approached and for a whole bunch of reasons went straight for Piper Kerman's original book, on which the TV...
Published 12 months ago by J. Potter

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Realistic but rushed through
I liked the book, I didn't love it.
I would have liked for it to have been more in depth. I think Kerman is holding back some of the negative side to Prison. She honestly makes it seem a walk in the park and I refuse to believe that a puny white girl like her had such an easy ride. In all honesty, the over exaggerated, pimped up TV series seems much more...
Published 2 months ago by Stacey Johnson


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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating insight to a world worth avoiding, 19 Sep 2013
By 
J. Potter "johniebg" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison (Kindle Edition)
Anyone spending any time online during 2013 will have struggled not to notice a TV series called 'Orange is the New Black', which was the most viewed show commissioned by Netflix (a comedy filmed by Lionsgate) during the year. I had a holiday coming up as autumn approached and for a whole bunch of reasons went straight for Piper Kerman's original book, on which the TV series was based. Which for the sake of clarity will make you smile but unlike the show isn't written for laughs.

Piper Kerman comes from a middle-class family, is smart, well educated, is a pretty blond with blue eyes and possessed of a love for male and female partners. She also has an irresistible bohemian itch that leads her on all kinds of adventures and ultimately to jail.

During her mid-twenties she couriered drugs money as a favour and to pay a debt to a long term partner. She was arrested for the crime years later, when the drug syndicate collapsed and her ex-partner gave her name up as part of a deal. More than half a decade after being found guilty and being sentenced, Piper finally ends up in jail. The main focus of the story covers her thirteen months in jail.

The quality of the novel is that most educated, relatively law abiding citizens, will relate to Piper. She is a largely innocent everywoman, catapulted into the American penal system. And before anyone gets bent out of shape on the question of innocence - if you see this modern world in the black and white of right and wrong, the good and bad, then read on, this book might open your eyes.

Aside from the sincerity and lightness of touch in Piper's writing, the human story is what shines through. Piper waves away her fiancee and middle-class life, some ten years after her freely admitted crime, and goes from citizen to con, keeping her head down and trying to stay out of trouble. As she eases into life inside we meet a wide number of characters and rather than the violence you might expect, we are treated to people trying their best to deal with an inhumanity inflicted on them by the system, the size of the system and the futility of jailing people who have few choices in life but to return to that life. It is the interaction of the characters and Piper's enigmatic attempts to deal with these new experiences and the people who change her, that makes this such a captivating read.

The last time I read a book that felt this honest and insightful was Belle de Jour, for completely different reasons. There is a very compelling and perceived sincerity in the detail of every page that doesn't sensationalise the reality. The focus here is on the human, a very female story, captivating for its raw honesty.

Orange is the New Black is a rare book that has you experience the story, laugh and cry with the characters. We turn the last page grateful it wasn't us but also better for the shared experience.

Very highly recommended. I hope this review was helpful.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, 2 Aug 2013
By 
Ms. P. B. Thomas "Paula Thomas" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison (Kindle Edition)
I am British so my comments are as an outsider.

This book is one that once you start reading it you cannot put down. It can be challenging at times, There are characters in here, most of them prison staff, for whom it is difficult to feel any sympathy but we must remember that they are victims of an insane and underfunded system too.

After reading this it is difficult not to view the system as broken.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The only way to survive is to observe the prison as own universe, 26 Jun 2014
By 
Denis Vukosav - See all my reviews
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In preparation for going to serve her prison sentence, Piper Kerman conducted research about the literature on the prison system, prison life and the experiences of former prison inmates. But this quest gave her devastating results because all she found was intended for men. Therefore, the 'Orange Is the New Black' is her contribution to the women's side of the story from the other side of the bars.

Piper Kerman was graduated theatrologist from a family where education was valued, who in an effort to experience some adventures after graduation met Nora, slightly older woman who soon becomes her girlfriend. In their turbulent relationship the will be drawn into the drug trafficking and money laundering, and Piper, feeling that the adventure came to an end, left. Her past will catch her up few years later, as young woman with a great job and even better man beside her, forcing her to replace New York replaced with Danbury, her everyday clothes with the prison uniform, and her name with identification number 1187-424. For the next 15 months.

The biggest quality of this story lies in moderation and authenticity of narrator. Kerman skillfully immerses and emerges from prison every day, putting before the reader a simple, easily digestible, yet evocative story devoid of heavy and dark parts. In fact, these moments in Piper’s story are spiced with, sometimes black, humor, which, in addition to relieving the reader shows in a very subtle way if you ever find yourself in jail how to deal with difficult situations. Her stay in prison Piper, partly because of the time, looks with the emotional detachment and her story is devoid of any pathos, self-pity, or the need for self-justification, however, dosing a wide range of feelings was included to show the reader all the states through which one prisoner can pass - shock and disbelief when leaving a world of freedom, gradual adjustment and refusal to adapt to prison rules, so different from those in the outside world, the search for own place and role in the prison social order, overwhelming feelings about own ability to adapt to new conditions, and confusion about the release to freedom.

The best are, however, described relations among inmates. Unlike many authors, Piper Kerman first present those qualities on which the reader might discriminate against her characters, such as the type of crime committed, sexual orientation and gender identity. And, while the other authors first make readers to love some characters before inserting "but ..", Piper depicts how in the prison you first encounter with the hardest thing a person could give, and if you can handle it, there are very good chances that you will get through the "softer "part. She does not condemn because she doesn’t want to be condemned, because she wants to be accepted and helps because she knows how much she needed help. She seeks to stay out of prison conflict, but very skillfully place them in a microcosm composed of two hundred women and their guards, often dominated by illogical rules and prisoners whose power lies not in force, but in the knowledge or skills they possess on which other prisoners depend.

The additional value of this story in a very gentle but powerful way to turn the reader's attention to the situation in US prisons, the relationship of power and subordination in which the main role is played by prison guards, the immense paperwork whose timely processing enable or disables visits, phone calls, shopping in the prison shop and even urgent release to freedom due to emergencies, in all kinds of prisoner rights deprivation. For readers who remain immune to it, the author of the text very skillfully hid startling data on the number of imprisoned people in US, the total annual growth of these figures and the number of prison reconvalescents.

Many will blame the book for inadequate characterization, but their flatness is just a reflection of the lack of space for multi-dimensional development of the personality behind bars, sensory numbness, which is probably the best way to preserve sanity in jail or formal writing style, characteristic of the works that draw inspiration from own life.

What should be kept in mind is that this novel, just as it is not a work of fiction is neither a universal truth. "Orange is the New Black" is skillfully formulated confession, the experience of a young woman, seemingly in no way did not fit into the prison system, but she still came out head held high and with a huge smile on her face. This work will surely stand on book shelves together with male prison works of literature and thus some new Piper help opening up the world found on the other side of the lock.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars could not put it down, 4 July 2014
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This review is from: Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison (Kindle Edition)
After watching the show and guessing that Pipers experience was over dramatised I wanted to know the real story. I could not put this book down. The book shows how powerful friendship can be. And of course how the legal system is failing shockingly. Anyone can make a mistake. It would have been interesting to note how the other characters were getting on and if these friendships remain.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A book that will challenge your opinion :), 27 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison (Kindle Edition)
Synopsis

After finishing college, Piper Kerman started having adventures. She took off with her lover Nora, she jumped off cliffs, basically started living a reckless existence. Piper Kerman had little regard for the conventional rules when she was young and having fun. This unfortunately led to a one time drug money trafficking situation which came back to haunt her nearly ten years after the event.

Piper Kerman was incarcerated for 15 months. It was during those fifteen months (and with the help and love of her fellow inmates) that Kerman really began to truly understand what it means to live.

Review

I have to admit, my sole reason for reading this book is that I am desperate to watch the television series and since I have a weird OCD rule about not watching films or TV shows based on books before reading them, Orange is the New Black did get boosted up the TBR pile. Also, my aunty Susie was pretty insistent that I read and watch so she had someone to discuss the series with.

I think, like most people, I went into this book believing one thing about prisoners. People in the big house are bad. They have committed a crime and now they are doing time as a punishment. What I didn’t expect was the level of empathy and warmth I felt towards Kerman and her fellow inmates. Sure, the story was told with the perspective of a prisoner so it was unlikely that Kerman would be unnecessarily demonise her prison colleagues, however, what did become apparent is that, like Kerman herself, a lot of the women she shared prison life with were just victims of their own circumstance. Furthermore, they were the victims of a judicial system that doesn’t rehabilitate inmates to the best level.

However, Kerman does not bemoan her station in life; she doesn’t wallow in self pity and expect everyone to feel sorry for her. She knows the part she played in her incarceration and she owns it with honesty, balls and quite frankly a level of integrity that we should all aspire to have.

What Kerman manages to do so very excellently within Orange is the New Black is to raise awareness of the prison system in America, highlighting its very obvious flaws whilst respectfully understanding that she did commit a crime and acknowledging that she should pay for her sins. Hopefully the work that Piper Kerman has done since then – with this book amongst other things – will help to garner future reform for prisoners in the future.

Now, how do I download series one from NetFlix?

For more information on Piper Kerman please visit www.piperkerman.com
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, 6 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison (Kindle Edition)
Never heard of this book until I watched the tv show (which is fantastic) the book I must admit is less exciting than the show but much more insightful and realistic. A great read and well written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would recommend., 11 July 2014
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This review is from: Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison (Kindle Edition)
Fascinating insight into one woman's experience of the American penal system. Would recommend.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 25 July 2013
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If you enjoyed the Netflix series, you will love the book just as much. Piper Kerman's writing has captured the same story lines and emotions that it just as enjoyable to read as it is to watch the series. Very humorous, and not a huge amount varies from the programme.

A must have!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story, 29 July 2013
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This review is from: Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison (Kindle Edition)
This story moved me to tears. Amazing read. Easily the most touching and heartfelt book I have ever read. If you love the fantastic Netlix series ( like I did ) try the book you will not be disappointed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and thought provoking, 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison (Kindle Edition)
I read this book after watching the TV series as I was interested in the underlying true story. As you would expect the TV series is not a mirror image of the book but many of the stories and the characters appear in the book in some shape or form.
As with the TV series all sorts of emotions, situations and relationships are discovered. The book is entertaining but in places it makes you despair at the way people are treated. I'd never really thought about penal reform before but it is now something I'd like to understand more.
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