“I knew that I would have to be brave. Not foolhardy, not in love with risk and danger, not making ridiculous exhibitions of myself to prove that I wasn’t terrified–really genuinely brave.”
Number of Pages: 298.
Location: Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury, Connecticut.
Orange is the New Black follows Piper in her 15 months in a low-security women’s prison for a drug crime committed 10 years prior. For a complete summary, you can go here.
Full disclosure, I didn’t actually read this book, I listened to the audiobook. I’m not an auditory learner, so listening to a book is tricky for me, therefore I have to stick to books I am familiar with or nonfiction books [that way I don’t miss an important scene if I zone out for a minute]. I was shocked when I learned that this book was only 298 pages. The audiobook felt SO long. I get that it’s probably a challenging job to be an audiobook reader, but the accents of the inmates were HORRENDOUS and terribly stereotypical. Besides long car rides, I am definitely sticking to reading books on my own.
I am in love with the show Orange is the New Black, so I was excited to read the origins and see how much truth there was to it. I was actually surprised with how many of the characters were based on real people. But most of the events in the show are dramatically changed to make characters more dynamic and interesting. There are a lot of storylines and characters in the show, which is probably the only reason I could even attempt to keep track of them in the book. She bounces around from character to character without a whole lot of depth. She spent over a year with these people, and yet she doesn’t show a whole lot of understanding of who they are as people.
My main frustration with this book is that it all sounded really whiny. Here’s this white upper middle class [read: privileged] woman who ends up with a short sentence in a low-security prison with a lot more freedom than you would expect for a prisoner. I loved the part when she went to a stricter prison, so she could appreciate how nice the other prison was. I understand that the prison system needs a revamp, but it is a prison. Don’t commit crimes for the sake of “adventure” and then complain about how horrible prison is while you watch movies every weekend and get shipped tons of packages from friends and family every day. I would have much rather learned more about the prisoners that don’t have an unlimited commissary fund or visitors all the time. She could have taken this opportunity to give a voice to the prisoners that don’t have the abilities to write a book or the access to resources to publish a book. [Side note: I felt like Piper kept wording things in a way to make her sound more intelligent, but I think it made her sound condescending].
Overall, this book is interesting and gives readers a good look into the realities of a low-security women’s prison. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think!
“Do you have to find the evil in yourself in order to truly recognize it in the world?”
o Amber Gregg o