Piper Kerman, Orange is the New Black, (2010), 368p
I, like many others, heard about the show and, in turn, this book, then devoured episodes on Netflix with my partner. But, unlike many others, we only watched about the first half of the first season. Then life got in the way and I stopped. We have been meaning to start watching episodes again and after reading the book, I’m looking forward to jumping back in and finishing both seasons.
When I was looking for a vacation read, this was not necessarily on the top of my list. Not quite a lighthearted, fast paced book I usually pick up for the plane. But I thought I would give it a go, especially when it came through as an eBook hold as well. (Fate?) I’m one of those impatient, incredibly annoying people who put a hold on any format available at the library to speed up the process. I loaded it onto my fancy new iPad and read away.
Realistically from what I have seen of the show, it follows the same basic plot line – Piper, a young blonde, falls for Nora, an older, mysterious woman, then gets sucked into her life of drug smuggling and ridiculousness. Piper grows up, smartens up, and moves on with her life. A decade later, the feds come calling and she is convicted and sentenced to hard time. It follows Piper’s relationships and struggles with her fellow inmates and her path towards self realization and growth.
What I really enjoyed was the strength and relationships of these women. Women from all walks of life coming together and making the best of this situation. I like the idea of the mother hens taking the young chicks under their wings, offering their wisdom and support in the form of prison cooking, toiletries, and advice on proper footwear in the showers. It shows beauty in the darkness – that community can brighten the bleakest places and souls.
I made the mistake of reading some reviews and comments. (Note to self: never do that). Some people thought that Kerman was whiny and self involved, that her problems in prison (too many books, not sleeping under the covers) were nothing compared to her fellow inmates battles with poverty, addictions, and mental health issues. While her WASP-y ways may have set her up for greater success outside of the prison walls, I feel like she really did care about and learn from these women. Her honesty and compassion and positivity came through. It gave us a glimpse behind those bars and the women who serve time – opening eyes and asking questions.
Happy reading –