Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Orange is the New Black
Piper Kerman
(cover art by Lions Gate Television Inc. and Netflix Inc.)
Abacus 2010
£7.99 (UK)

Book Review | Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman | 4 stars



With her career, live-in boyfriend and loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the rebellious young woman who, over a decade ago, got mixed up with drug runners an delivered a suitcase of drug money to Europe. But when she least expects it, her reckless past catches up with her: convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at an infamous women’s prison in Connecticut, Piper becomes inmate #11187-424. From her first strip search to her final release, she learns to navigate this strange world with its arbitrary rules and codes, its unpredictable, even dangerous relationships. And she meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with tokens of generosity, hard truths and simple acts of acceptance.


After seeing the first season of the show, I’ve been wanting to pick up the book it was based on. Finally after also having seen the second season (I’ve been holding off on the third!) I’ve been able to get my hands on the book and read it.

The beginning was slow and boring. There’s no other way to put it. The whole book is in chronological order (mostly) and the first two chapters tell about the crime and the sentencing (which took a long time!). It’s not why I picked up the book and I couldn’t find myself really caring one way or the other. Obviously Kerman wrote a book about her time in prison, so obviously she must’ve committed some kind of crime. I’d have hoped that these parts would come in every once in a while as a flashback. That would’ve made them more bearable.

Starting the third chapter however, where she goes to prison, changed everything. Somehow, when I started this, I was sucked into the story and didn’t want to put the book down anymore. From then on, it gets interesting, it’s intriguing. We never know what’s going to happen and it’s exciting to find out together with Piper.

Because it’s her first time (and only time I think) in prison, it’s (for me) very easy to relate. I’ve never been to prison, so it helps that everything is described in detail and that Piper has to discover everything, so that I could go on that journey with her very easily.

Unlike in the TV show, nothing truly horrible happens in the book Kerman has written about her time in prison. Finally however, we do find out why it’s called Orange is the New Black; after a newspaper article where friends of Kerman had dressed in all orange to support their friend in prison. I was very excited to finally discover this.

All in all, there’s not as much excitement as I was expecting. However, I was strangely intrigued by the story and could not put the book down after I’d started chapter 3, which is odd because this is not the first memoir I’ve read about a woman doing time.


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