Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: Orange is the New Black - Piper Kerman

Orange is the New Black
Piper Kerman
Series: N/A
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Captivating
On Goodreads

This past summer, I binge watched the entire first season of the Netflix original show Orange is the New Black and completely fell in love with every aspect of the show. I loved the dynamic of the characters, the witty dialogue, the prison drama, all of it. I quickly learned that the show was based off a memoir and mentally added it to my reading list. I didn't end up reading it until now, just a few short months away from the next season of the show, and I really wish I'd picked it up sooner, as it was a very enjoyable read. It was really interesting seeing how the book compared to the show. I feel like I would have liked the book better if I had read it before watching the show, but I'm glad I read it when I did. Obviously, a TV show takes many liberties and hypes up drama for entertainment factor, and I was expecting the memoir to be a lot more mellow, which it was. I really liked meeting the characters or reading the stories and connecting them to incidents and people in the show, and I can't wait until next season, when I can watch and pick up on which parts of the book they're referencing.

Okay. Enough about the show vs. book comparison. Let's get down to why you should totally read this book. The first and foremost reason is the characters. They are all so wonderful and dynamic and it makes it even better that these are real people. Piper stays among the company of a very wide variety of people and she tells us about all of them. There's Pop, who works the kitchens, and there's her bunkmate Natalie, and tons of other characters. I really wish she had told us more about them, which is partially where she loses stars. Some of the characters were barely described, and when she would bring them up later I would get confused as to who she was referring to. This didn't take too much away from the other people she wrote about. From the shady correctional officers to the fiesty women of Danbury correctional facility, everyone's stories were so interesting and fascinating I just wanted to keep reading about them. In one scene, Piper wakes up and sees a woman peeing on the floor of another woman's "room." She also talks about how she got an on-site electrical job and all the people she worked with and got to meet, how she had to learn to hold her own among the seasoned and experienced prisoners, and just so many interesting stories that talk about life in prison.

Piper's correctional facility was a low security one, and even though prison is prison, this isn't a tough-as-nails, horrifying account of being tortured and treated like less-than-human in some dump. Piper received pleasures like being allowed to have books and visitors, and was allowed to do things like work. Nevertheless, the personal account of prison life is still full of surprising details and strange experiences that make this book totally worth reading.

Sometimes, her writing style got a little dry, but the story itself made up for that. I didn't like hearing about her own experiences as much -- unless they were from her rebel days -- because her upper-class WASP lifestyle seemed a lot less interesting than the stories about the people she spent a year with in prison. She had a huge support system including her family and her fiancee, Larry. Even though I was happy that she didn't have to deal with being ostracized and judged outside of her prison life, it was all very clean and happy, and not as fun to read about as the other women.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend it to everyone, especially if you watch or are planning to watch the show, which is phenomenal in its own right.

- Noor

Have you read any good memoirs lately?
Let us know in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I think I should read this book after reading your review thanks