Endless Bliss | Happy Lifestyle Blog: orange is the new black {book review}

orange is the new black {book review}


Favorite quote: “When you are deep in misery, you reach out to those who can help, people who can understand.” 

Favorite character: Miss Natalie (Piper's bunkie)

Book Synopsis from Piper Kerman's Website
When federal agents knocked on her door with an indictment in hand, Piper Kerman barely resembled the reckless young woman she was shortly after graduating Smith College. Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, Piper was forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking.
Following a plea deal for her 10-year-old crime, Piper spent a year in the infamous women’s correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, which she found to be no “Club Fed.” In Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, Piper takes readers into B-Dorm, a community of colorful, eccentric, vividly drawn women. Their stories raise issues of friendship and family, mental illness, the odd cliques and codes of behavior, the role of religion, the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailor, and the almost complete lack of guidance for life after prison.
Compelling, moving, and often hilarious, Orange is the New Black sheds a unique light on life inside a women’s prison, by a Smith College graduate who did the crime and did the time.
My Thoughts
Orange is the New Black is the first book that I experienced through an audio book. The only reason I decided to get the audio book was because the actual book was checked out from the library. I really think I'm hooked! I didn't just sit in my apartment and listen to the book. I just played it in my car. I think it was the perfect book to listen to because it wasn't a mystery novel or something that you just wanted to tear through. It was a good book, but it wasn't working up to anything, other than her release from prison.
TV Piper Chapman with real-life Piper Kerman
I decided to read this book because I really enjoyed the show. I didn't like it at first though. There were a lot of things about the first few episodes that made me uncomfortable and were just really awkward to watch. Once you get past the 5th or 6th episode though, things really start to pick up. You start to pick out your favorite characters, and I got really attached to Piper. I just wanted to be a voice in her ear to tell her to keep going to tell her that she was being an idiot, and she needed to get it together. The season finale was just very dramatic, and I felt the need the read the book to see how much of the book was dramatized. I'm also really looking forward to the second season.

Turns out, pretty much the entire TV series is different from the book. They picked out the most dramatic parts of her experience and just made them even more dramatic. The show stressed me out a lot, but I never found myself stressing out during the book. I honestly view the book and the TV series as two separate entities, each with their own positive and negative qualities. Just because you like one doesn't mean that you'll like the other, and that's okay, obviously. The two have almost nothing in common. Even most of the characters from the TV show were just made up by the people who worked on the show. A few of them were adapted from the book, but only parts of them or certain aspects of different people were thrown together to create one character, and they were all given different names, some even changed races. Lots of complication.   

I really liked so many of the characters in this book. I felt like Piper did an amazing job describing each of the characters and capturing the little things that each of them do to make prison life just a little bit more bearable. They would celebrate birthdays and holidays together and help each other out in little ways that would be brushed aside in every day society. In a weird way, a lot of the prisoners become like family to Piper, which is happy and sad at the same time. Happy because they helped make prison life more bearable; sad because some of the people she met in prison were there for much longer sentences than her, and while she would be living her life on the outside, they would still be in prison, ticking off the days until they would be able to experience freedom. 

Even though Piper really painted an excellent picture about prison life through the people she wrote about in her book, I never really felt like I got to know Piper that well, which is strange considering the entire book is about her experience. She doesn't make prison sound like a cakewalk by any means, but she does make it sound much more bearable than I would have assumed it to be. 

Overall, I would give this book a 3.5/5. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was a great insight to every day prison life. It also just goes to show that sometimes, you can never really know everyone as well as you think you do. Piper is not the typical kind of person that you would see in prison (blonde, middle-class, educated), which is obviously what a lot of other people thought because she was constantly being asked what she was doing in prison. I really think Piper actually did a good job of holding her own in prison. Even though she didn't make prison life seem like it was too bad (at times, it even seemed kind of fun), I know that I could never handle prison, even if it was a low security prison like Danbury.

For more information about Piper Kerman and Orange is the New Black, check out her official website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
For more information about the TV series, go to Netflix.com or IMDB.
I also just really enjoyed this article about the book and TV series.
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  1. I remember seeing this book and being interested before it became a show but it was never one i *needed* to read. Now after seeing so much chatter about the show it was nice to see a review about the book! I don't have netflix so I haven't seen the show!

  2. Love this show!! I don't want to read the book, though until the other stuff is over. lol.

  3. I hadn't heard about the book until after hearing about the show. I think the book is more real, obviously. The show is very dramatized, but I still enjoy it. I really want to learn more about her life after she gets out of prison.

  4. The book is really nothing like the show - not as much drama, and about 90% of the characters are different. I'm impatiently waiting for the second season to come out on Netflix. I want it to come on already!

  5. I read reviews of this book before and decided not to pick it up because of the reviews. Many people said that Piper Kerman makes herself sound very self righteous. That she reminds her readers often that she is not the typical kind of person that would belong in prison. She made it sound like she is above those type of people. Did you find that at all while reading it?

  6. I agree with you- I wasn't too impressed with the writing but enjoyed the insight. And definitely a lot different from the TV show!

  7. I wouldn't say self righteous necessarily. She does say a few times that people asked her why she was in prison because she isn't the typical type of prisoner that they were used to seeing - blonde, educated, middle class. There are a few times when she opens up about herself and her past and whatnot, but in a way I almost feel like I learned more about the people around her and her environment. I never got a bad taste in my mouth about how she viewed herself though.

  8. I'm glad you agree! I was really intrigued about women's lives in prison, and I feel like I really learned a lot about that.


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