Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
A great read - very different from the series - but better in a lot of ways.
on 21 May 2016
I had two reasons to read this book: 1 – I’d just finished binge-watching the first series of the Netflix show of the same name, and 2 – I used to work in a prison.
I loved the TV show. I thought it was something new and a bit different. I was keen, when I found out it was based on a ‘true story’ to read a bit more about it.
This autobiographical account of the incarceration of Piper Kerman is an essential read.
I strongly suspected that the book was going to be a lot less sensational than the show. I was right. There aren’t half as many wild stories in the book as even one episode of the show. The show is clearly ‘inspired by…’ but far from being straight lifted from the pages.
And this is a good thing. What the book lacks in sensationalism, it more than makes up for with insight, wit, and conscience.
Piper is not an instantly likeable character. She comes across initially as being a bit precious. Spoilt, even. Her perfect life, though, is brought back down to earth with a bump when the mistakes of her past come back to not only haunt her, but place her in jail.
The concept of ‘self surrender’ is strange to me, as someone who knows only the UK systems. However the time in which Kerman knows she is going to jail is spent carrying out meticulous research and planning on ‘how to survive’. What follows is a fascinating glimpse into what must be a terrifying prospect – being sent to the big house when you live on the ‘right’ side of the tracks.
There is a strong feeling of ‘there but for the grace of god’ throughout this book. I know I made mistakes in my twenties, as most do. It’s easy to forget that Kerman’s mistake wasn’t a drunken indiscretion or a momentary lapse – she was well aware of her role in a life-destroying industry. This is addressed later on in the book, and I certainly ended it wanting to know more about the author and having a lot of respect for her.