Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Orange is the New Black

by Piper Kerman
published: Spiegel and Grau, 2010
pages: 298

When Piper was 22-years-old, she was young, reckless and in love and that's what got her into trouble.  Ten years later, with a boyfriend, a career and a loving family, her past caught up to her.   Piper was named in a drug ring bust and sentenced to 15 months in prison.  With this true story, we get a look into the lives of women in prison, why they're locked up and what happens to them.

The social commentary about prisons in general, but specifically women's prisons in America.  I really have no knowledge of how prisons work other than what I see in movies and fictional books, which is really nothing to go on.  This is my first real insight the prison system and it was not pretty.  I obviously didn't think it was going to be peaches and cream but what I learned about prisons astonished me.  There are so many systematic problems about the prisons in the United States that come to light in this book.

The cast of characters in this book are great.  The humor and whit of these women is amazing, especially for their circumstances. The most interesting part is that they are all in real people, some of the defining traits different but they are most definitely real.  I love that Piper dedicated her book to one of the women she met in prison.

I think about all those women who are in prison because of one decision and how society as a whole seems to forget that they are people with families and lives.  It's appalling, and very uncomfortable to read.  It makes me want to know how to help these women find a voice, show importance.  In the back of some editions of the book, there are different opportunities to get involved.  I have plans to make good on those resources.

Stars: 3/5


"Fascinating...The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can't unbind."

"Moving...transcends the memoir genre's usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you."
     --USA Today

"It's a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one-both for the reader and for Kerman."

An Alphabet Soup Book.

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