Book Review: Orange Is the New Black.



Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Everybody and their mother have been tweeting about how amazing the television show was.  So naturally I've been dying to watch it, but I really try to read the source material first when it comes to movies and TV.  Abacus Books were kind enough to send me a copy to review.  And I can't say enough how glad I am to have read before I watched.


Orange Is the New Black is pretty much as its subtitle reads--it's a chronicle of Piper Kerman's personal experience of serving a year in women's prison.  I'm only one episode into the show which I feel really captures the initial terror, but it is a different Piper.  The "real" Piper of the book has so much more of a sturdy head on her shoulders (despite having the credit of a nonviolent drug crime under her belt).

What struck me most about the writing is it is so straightforward, yet so rich.  Kerman is definitely a Smith College graduate; I'm in my final year of university, and I swear I was looking up more vocabulary words than during SAT prep.   Don't let that put you off the book.  Because of the tension of the narrative and tone, this thing is an absolute page turner.  And I'm not just saying that.  Ask any of my flatmates: I have four books going that I enjoy, but have also been trying to get through for the past sixth months.  I'd would pick a stopping point while I was reading Orange Is the New Black, but when I'd reach it, I'd find myself blowing past it anyway to find out what happened next.

This book earned my laughter, closed up throat up with heartbreak, and reminded me of the brokenness of the United States prison system.

And because I want to share this book so much, I'm giving my copy away!  If you want to win it, all you have to do is leave a comment telling what country you live in and how you think you would react to/behave during your first day in prison; I'll pick my favourite.  Unfortunately, this giveaway is for the UK only (I am but a student who can nay afford hefty postage), but even if you live outside the UK, I'd still love to read your answer.


Giveaway closes: Thursday 15 August 2013 at 5PM GMT
GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED

Support your local bookstore or pick it up at Waterstones!

21 comments

  1. I live in the US. If I were to ever be incarcerated, I would most likely pull a Luna Lovegood and act strangely in order to gain a mysterious persona. That way, even if I do get killed in prison, the rumors of my existence will prevail. Or most likely no one would care, but ONE CAN DREAM!

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  2. I live in the US, but moving to the UK in 19 days! (Ah, scary!)

    I think I would be completely terrified of being in a prison. I've never broken a rule in my life, I've always been too scared to, so prison? Shiiiiiiiiit (The Wire, anyone?) I would be that girl in the corner trying to figure out what plastic fork I could use to defend myself. I would be punched in the face for looking at someone wrong, apologize continuously like a child, and cry in the corner of my cell as I watched people pee in the communal toilet. They have those, right?

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  3. Bahhhh sadly I'm from Michigan, so I can't enter. But if I were to go to prison, I'd honestly be so terrified and in shock. I'd just be going through all the motions in a daze and be really quiet so as not to bring any attention to myself. Oh yeah and I'd probably CRY A LOT AT NIGHT.

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  4. I live in England.
    On my first day in prison, I think that I would try not to be noticed and attract as little attention to myself as I could (I don't think it would be wise for me to do anything else). I would probably cry a lot and be upset, but try to pretend not to be, so as to stay inconspicuous.

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  5. I live in the UK, and I honestly don't know how I'd react to my first day in prison. I like to imagine I'd just be really cool, calm and collected and just fairly relaxed about the whole thing in front of other people so they wouldn't hate me, but I think realistically I would be an emotional wreck and would be absolutely terrified, hahaha!

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  6. Live in the Netherlands. Prisons here aren't American levels of scary (as far as I know), so I'd probably just cry a lot about being cut off from the internet.

    You make dat book sound good btw. I'd love to read about a different version of Piper xD

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  7. I'm in the UK, and our prison system terrifies me. My first day of incarceration would probably be spent huddled in a corner, ostensibly to try and scope out the different character types and pick my friends or allies, but mostly out of fear and anxiety!

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  8. uK.
    i would probably let out my inner badass, telling people they shouldn't mess wit me or i'll mess wit all of you. etc.

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  9. I live in the UK, and after recently re-watching the Shawshank Redemption, I feel like you should try not to be fearful of everyone immediately (although in reality I probably would be). I'd hope, I would at least try to go on a one-woman quest to find my Morgan Freeman.

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  10. I'm in the UK, and I would be so terrified of prison! I'd probably try and make friends with the friendly Morgan Freeman types as best I could (a la Shawshank Redemption) but me being in prison would probably just involve a lot of crying and reading books to distract myself. I would love to read this as I've only just started the show!

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  11. I have been very intrigued by this story. I haven't seen the show yet and I had no idea it was a book, I will definitely try to read the book first. I live down the street from Smith College, maybe she references Northampton!

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  12. Ooh, that's my new favorite show and I've been dying to read that book! Great giveaway!

    I live in the UK, but I hail from Norway. I don't know much about the UK prison system, but I bet it's probably worse than the Norwegian one. Seriously, prisoners live in Uni-type halls and have the internet and TV and expensive commissioned art on the walls.

    Basically, I'm incredibly lucky to come from a place where prisoners are rightfully seen as human beings: they are given the opportunity to get an education, learn a useful craft, vote (srsly I can't believe they can't even do that in the UK like actual omg) and most importantly, they are prepared for life outside (metaphorical) bars.

    Still, I'd probably shit bricks (I apologize for the imagery) if I ever ended up in prison, partly due to a fear of being without my extensive skincare routine, and partly because I value my freedom so highly, and having that taken away from me would frighten me beyond words. So many people around the world lack freedom of speech, religion, sexual expression, or just freedom in general. So, yeah, I would be really scared, I think.

    Again, great great giveaway! xx

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  13. I live in Scotland, and I'd like to think I'd be okay, and make friends with welcoming and maternal people but the likelihood is that I would not deal well with it at all. I'd probably try to keep to myself and not attract attention, although watching OITNB has suggested to me it wouldn't be that easy..

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  14. I´d like to win this! I really like the show.

    I will be in the UK this week for SITC and after that starting September 7th for an entire year. See you this weekend ;)

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  15. I´d like to win this! I really like the show.

    I will be in the UK this week for SITC and after that starting September 7th for an entire year. See you this weekend ;)

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  16. I'd like to win this copy off you (even though I'm currently reading 3 other books as well). This week I'll be in the UK for SITC and starting september 7th I will be in London for an entire year.

    See you this weekend.

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  17. I live in the UK. My first day in prison would consist of me being scared and fairly fascinated with the whole procedure. Since I think I've never envisioned being in prison, even when I watched 'Prison Break' I actually have no idea how I would be feeling. I think I would be most concerned about my sleeping arrangement. The thought of having to share a cell fills me with fear, since they could arguably kill you. However, I think the most important question is what crime landed me in prison in the first place?

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  18. I live in the UK. My first day in prison would consist of me being scared and fairly fascinated with the whole procedure. Since I think I've never envisioned being in prison, even when I watched 'Prison Break' I actually have no idea how I would be feeling. I think I would be most concerned about my sleeping arrangement. The thought of having to share a cell fills me with fear, since they could arguably kill you. However, I think the most important question is what crime landed me in prison in the first place?

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  19. Hmmm, just thought I'd glance back in on this thread. Even allowing for 'repeat offenders', so many entries! There ain't no 'Runnin'' away from this, Marionhoney...

    Americans are often cruelly maligned for not 'getting' irony - but even referenced to a certain someone who no doubt does - there is a certain deliciousness at play here.
    Marion, in the context of this giveaway - and maybe one day when you're not just shooting and editing films, but directing and producing them - YOU are the judge, and the jury. Arguably, also the parole board - here - as you ponder the release of this book from your custody.

    In your deliberations, Marionhoney of her-suffix-infused-self-created-sweet-pickle, I wish you the wisdom of Solomon.
    The Wisdom of Solomon ... and Hip-Hop.

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  20. I live in the UK.
    I don't know how I would feel to be honest. I see prison though the images projected by tv and the media. I suspect it would hit me how real the concept of prison is. I suppose I would feel scared. I think prison would remind me of all my own insecurities and magnify them so that I am surrounded by fear, of both external and internal factors.

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  21. US.
    Walk in feeling tough and contained, a sense which would erode after hearing the prison gossip. Recover myself.
    Look at the food. Hope that starving myself would give me an intense, angular appearance.
    Scan prison for potential confidant.
    Try to find a job, start on kitchen staff escalating the taste and sophistication of prison meals and giving the mates something to look forward to everyday?
    Mingle. Study the vernacular and verbal interaction between mates, preparing myself for a possible linguistics dissertation on the "straightforward, yet so rich"(?) language style in the prison houses in America.
    Read books that remind about how good life can be.
    Miss rookiemag.
    Miss nyt.
    Miss friends/family.
    Cry for while.
    Look at myself in mirror in jumpsuit.
    Miss Mulan.
    Miss Mulan II and owlssayhooot videos.
    Try to talk again.
    Go to room.
    Think about something other than what may lie in my cot's fibers.
    Try not to smell the cell.
    Plan to be more creative, curious, social tomorrow.
    Channel Curious George.

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