Orange Is the New Black
My Year in A Women's PrisonBook - 2011
With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187--424--one of the millions of people who disappear "down the rabbit hole" of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman's story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison--why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they're there.
Praise for Orange Is the New Black
"Fascinating . . . The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can't unbind." -- People (four stars)
"I loved this book. It's a story rich with humor, pathos, and redemption. What I did not expect from this memoir was the affection, compassion, and even reverence that Piper Kerman demonstrates for all the women she encountered while she was locked away in jail. I will never forget it." --Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
"This book is impossible to put down because [Kerman] could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter." -- Los Angeles Times
"Moving . . . transcends the memoir genre's usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you." -- USA Today
"It's a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one--both for the reader and for Kerman." --Newsweek.com
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From the critics
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"No one who worked in 'corrections' appeared to give any thought to the purpose of our being there, any more than a warehouse clerk would consider the meaning of a can of tomatoes, or try to help those tomatoes understand what the hell they were doing on the shelf."
"Stoicism sure comes in handy when they take away your underpants."
"I shushed her and patted the blond curls she was so proud of, and inside I grieved angrily over the insanity of locking up children, and then returning them to neighborhoods that were more desperate and dangerous than jails."
Great institutions have leaders who are proud of what they do, and who engage with everyone who makes up those institutions, so each person understands their role. But our jailers are generally granted near-total anonymity, like the cartoon executioner who wears a hood to conceal his identity. What is the point, what is the reason, to lock people away for years, when it seems to mean so very little, even to the jailers who hold the key? How can a prisoner understand their punishment to have been worthwhile to anyone, when it's dealt in a way so offhand and indifferent? [pg 293]
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