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Orange Is the New Black

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  122,594 Ratings  ·  11,644 Reviews
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 —
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Hardcover, 298 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau
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Popular Answered Questions

Kayla Sparklin It depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a real-life account, a journey of self-discovery, and honesty/truth, then the book is way…moreIt depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a real-life account, a journey of self-discovery, and honesty/truth, then the book is way better.
If you're looking to be entertained by drama, glam, sex, scandal, etc., you'll like the series.(less)
Matis Simona Yes. It is the author's real life. She was in prison for a while and she describes in the book the life in jail.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Larry Smith
Dec 03, 2013 Larry Smith rated it it was amazing
[Spoiler alert as to the ending of the book! Read at your own risk.]
I'm biased because Piper is my wife, and I'm in this book. But I still think it's am amazing journey story. I'm pretty sure if I didn't know Piper I would be spreading the word on ORANGE just as I've done other books. I read a pre-hype galley of Eat Pray Love, thought it was amazing, and sent to at least 5 friends. So there. Read Piper's book: you'll be really glad you did.
Joice
Oct 05, 2012 Joice rated it did not like it
Allow me to summarize: "So, I am a privileged, white girl who was lost and confused. I made some mistakes, including becoming involved with an international drug ring. Oopsie. However, by the grace of my own incredible will, I got out, met a nice boy, and became a productive citizen. Then boom! Somebody snitched, and the government baddies came and put me in prison. But I was stoic! My heavens, was I ever! I accepted my fate and the consequences for my actions. And I was also pretty special. Des ...more
Lynn
Jul 26, 2011 Lynn rated it liked it
Shelves: book-group-books
What a shocker! A well-educated, upper class white woman goes to prison and builds strong bonds with her fellow inmates, who are mostly undereducated women of color from the wrong side of the tracks.

I liked the book and I liked her. I did. But it irritates me that she seems to be marketing the book as this revealing story about how we're all just human after all. I didn't find her writing condescending of the other women. I found her to be non-judgmental and a truly good friend to everyone wort
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Vanessa
Nov 07, 2013 Vanessa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, bio
After a very hearty recommendation from several people I trust, I started watching the Netflix original TV show Orange is The New Black. While it can be a little disjointed and awkward in parts, it has its charm. The characters are memorable and the story-lines are very compelling. While I haven't had time to marathon the series in its entirety, I thought to check out Piper Kerman's candid memoir of her life in prison, where she was incarcerated for a drug trafficking charge almost a decade afte ...more
Barb
I really wanted to give this a better review, because I love it on Netflix.
Maybe I would have liked it better if I hadn't seen the show first.
Basically, I felt like this story lacked depth, was repetitive and quite often felt phoney. I was annoyed by the constant reminders that Piper's blue eyes and blonde hair made her life pretty easy, and that her inclusion with the "popular" crowd (aka: Pop's friends) got her lots of perks. Characters were underdeveloped and there was no real flow. Oh, and d
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Angie
Jan 12, 2014 Angie rated it really liked it
So, I read the reviews and people in the "dislike" camp are right. It's a memoir, so it's about her experience. The author's well off and a WASP and she had it relatively easy in prison what with all the letters, books and visits she received from family and friends. There are no major conclusions about the sociology of her experience nor are there calls to action on ways for people to address any of the many things prison does not do for society. But I repeat, it is a memoir.

What we get is a l
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Debbie
Oct 24, 2012 Debbie rated it did not like it
It's not often that I outright dislike a book, but I disliked this one. Intensely. With a passion. I feel a little bad about that, as a good friend recommended it for our book club, but I'm guessing I had a surly face when I showed up to discuss it that evening.

In terms of the writing, my main gripe is that nothing happens. "How is that possible?" you ask. "This privileged, blonde, Smith graduate went to jail!" Yes. This is true. And I have no idea how it's possible that nothing happens, but thi
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PhobicPrerogative
The details in this book were impressive, but it got tiring eventually. I suppose she had to stretch out everything that happened that year into those pages.
There were also a lot of women mentioned, and my head was spinning, trying to keep track of them.

Although well-written, the one thing I honestly didn't like about this memoir is that the author came off as a bit smug, like she was better than the other prisoners.
There was a "Mary Sue" impression I got of her, the woman who got along with ev
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Lisa Vegan
Jun 26, 2012 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: for those who enjoy autobiographies and memoirs, prison stories, interested in sociology
This book was remarkably enjoyable to read. The writing is light and breezy, and it’s very well written, though not beautifully written; it’s a very straightforward account.

Even though the author was so much more privileged than a typical women inmate, I got a good feel for not only her experiences but those of the even more unfortunate inmates.

I learned a lot about life on the inside. One main thing is if you’re a nice person and you treat others well and you’re open to relationships with other
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Terry
May 09, 2011 Terry rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alaine
Jul 20, 2013 Alaine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Did the makers of the show hone in on this book as a raw idea, then flesh it out to make the show? Because the show is freakin' GENIUS and...let's just say I am not picking up on genius from the book. It begins early on, when Piper lets us know that she wasted all those years in an elite university majoring in theater without any actual life goals in mind. And she doesn't seem embarrassed about this at all.

She goes through prison acting like a whiny, spoiled, entitled, rich brat. And then
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Diane
Jul 31, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
There are so many things I liked about this book! In 2004, Piper Kerman spent a year in a women's prison for a decade-old drug offense. Her memoir is thoughtful, enlightening and, at times, humorous. I'm not surprised it was adapted into a successful TV series on Netflix -- it's a perfect fish-out-of-water story.

Piper -- who is a white, upper-middle class college graduate from Boston -- is upfront about how stupid she was in her early 20s. In 1993, Piper was hanging out with a woman, Nora, who b
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Matt
Jul 24, 2010 Matt rated it it was ok
As we always hear, conflict is the essence of interesting drama. I think that's the biggest problem I had with this story-- the author (and publisher) assume that the mere fact that a well educated white girl from a wealthy family will be going to prison is enough drama to float the entire book. They're wrong, but not by much.

Kerman's story is rather interesting in the first few chapters, but the crime and arrest lose about 90% of their immediacy because of the crazy ten year delay between them.
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Lynn
Oct 15, 2010 Lynn rated it did not like it
First, let me fully admit, that it is my own fault that I thought this was going to be a good book. I failed to pay attention to the title, which essentially screams Sex in the City meets Prison. Instead, I read the subtitle, My Year in a Women's Prison, and imagined that it was an entirely different book - one of substance. I also failed to notice that the cover endorsement quote is from the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Lastly, I work with prisoners, so I am particularly sensitive to inaccurate p ...more
Sara McCarty
Sep 26, 2013 Sara McCarty rated it it was ok
So, I haven’t watched the show yet, but I’ve heard so much good stuff about it that I think I got my hopes up way too high for the book. Maybe 2 stars was a little harsh, because I did think it was well written and I found the subject matter interesting. However, I just didn’t like the narrator and had a hard time relating to her (despite her being small, blonde, blue-eyed, educated, runner, etc.). I think she was trying so hard not to sound whiny and condescending that she came across as whiny ...more
Libby
Oct 08, 2011 Libby rated it it was amazing
Some people go into therapy, some become artists, others follow a spiritual path to find their true selves. Piper Kerman went to jail instead. Convicted of being a drug courier, a youthful folly she got into when she was enamored of the woman who got her involved with this, she was arrested 10 years after the incident and had to serve over a year in prison. However, she emerged a changed woman: she saw how she had wounded so many people by her recklessness and self-centeredness, saw what drugs h ...more
Christine
Oct 22, 2013 Christine rated it did not like it
This is a rare book that I didn't like yet it was a good book club selection. Why you ask? Because it sparked a lot of good discussion. I've never seen the show but several friends raved about how wonderful it was, so when I read this book I kept waiting for it to get good and it never happened.

Let's dig in...Piper wanted an adventure and her girlfriend point blank told her (up front!) she was in the drug business. Piper didn't flinch at this. Okay, for someone who didn't even dabble in drugs,
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Estelle
Jan 06, 2016 Estelle rated it really liked it
This book really took me by surprise. I honestly thought I wouldn't like it and was ready to give up on it after a few pages, but then, it just suddenly caught my attention and quickly I just couldn't stop listening to it (I highly recommend getting this on audiobook! Memoirs always feel more intimate and true when the author him/herself is reading it to you).
"Orange is the New Black" made me laugh, made me cry, most of all it made me feel and think.
While the TV series is entertaining, I never
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Flannery
Oct 16, 2011 Flannery rated it really liked it
Shelves: liked, kindle, memoir
I was hesitant to read this and, in fact, had it on my Kindle for months before I got around to reading it, because I'd heard it wasn't so great. But when I did finally read it, I regretted waiting so long. One of the main criticisms of this book is that Piper never seems apologetic for her crimes. I don't agree with that at all. For one, by the time she went to prison, it's nearly two decades since her crime. Secondly, I wondered throughout the entire book, what is the point of this sentence? I ...more
Sarah
I feel like I've been reading this book for ages. God, it was so boring. Maybe if I read this book before I watched the show I would have given it a higher rating but regardless, it wouldn't have been much higher because it wasn't a good book.

First of all, I did not like Piper. God, she was so irritating and boring. Honestly, all I heard was "wah wah wah I'm in prison but I'm really stoic and I'm perfect and everyone loves me and I get my way because I'm beautiful and blonde and blue-eyed and e
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Mason
Feb 24, 2016 Mason rated it really liked it
Like most people I went into this book because of the Netflix series. Now I knew it wouldn't be the same going in. Things are changed for more dramatic story telling, characters are split or condensed, attitudes changed to create conflict, etc.

I'll go ahead and say right now that Kerman, to my knowledge at least, never had any run ins with a chicken.

But what this actually turned into was a fantastic learning experience. I knew the prison system was broken, that's probably the most realistic th
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Jennifer Lane
Oct 24, 2015 Jennifer Lane rated it really liked it
I'll Steer Clear of Orange Jumpsuits, Please

Prison fascinates and horrifies me. My favorite TV show is Prison Break, so I thought I'd give Orange is the New Black show a try. While the TV show wasn't for me, I'm glad I read this memoir about an upper-middle-class woman who goes to prison for a year. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at a book reading/signing at a women's prison, and she is lovely in real life.

Piper Kerman's real-life story chronicling her year in prison is insightful and
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Ngan
I agree with Piper Kerman that women's prisons are not written about as much as men's prisons and that prison in general is a horrible place and shows how prison truly fails to rehabilitate. I liked that Piper Kerman shed some light on how it is within women's prison walls--tight inside rules, terrible governance, dirty showers. I liked her list of resources at the end.

What I didn't like about this memoir was how judgmental and superior the author is to her situation. She barely takes responsib
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Kurt
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it it was amazing
I should confess my bias from the start - I am a public defender in western Massachusetts, so not liking this book would be like not rooting for the home team. Thankfully, this is an easy book to love. Kerman is a gifted narrator, sharing details of a directionless post-grad life after college, when she joined up with an exotic older woman for international vacations that just happened to involve the arrangements of drug transactions at the margins. I think she portrays herself as a bit more nai ...more
Stephanie
Apr 30, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-2015
This is an eye-opening story of a Caucasian middle class woman committing a non-violent crime and going to prison 10 years later. I found her memoir of this life to be touching and compelling. Piper comes across as a very likeable person who is at first lost in prison life and then finds many friends across racial and socio-economic bounds in federal prison. She is well liked by the other inmates and builds friendships -- getting saddened when a couple of her good friends leave (but happy that t ...more
Bark's Book Nonsense
Oct 27, 2012 Bark's Book Nonsense rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, memoir
3 1/2 stars

Listening Length: 11 hours and 14 minutes
Version: Unabridged Audiobook
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell

Imagine doing something criminally dumb as an impetuous twenty-something, getting away with it and having it come back to haunt you just when you’ve got it all together? That’s what happened to Piper Kerman.

Piper was a young, adventurous college graduate who fell into a lesbian affair with a slightly older woman who was making her money in the drug trade. Piper q
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Paul
This is a tricky one for me to review, partly because I used to work for the prison service (albeit not the US prison service) and, while I don't anymore, I'm still a government employee and am bound by various bits of paperwork I've signed (Official Secrets Act and the like). Unlike some other reviewers, I can't be too vocal about how I feel about the prison system, so this review is going to be brief and focused on the author's personal story rather than the establishment it takes place in.

Lik
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Steven
Sep 28, 2013 Steven rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
You should read this book. Not just because it's entertaining, has some great real life stories, and some wacky and highly lovable "characters" to keep your interest. Not just because it's a compelling memoir that has been turned into a fantastic (fictionalized) tv series by Netflix. But because it's a nitty gritty in your face description of prison life in our country today. We all know our system is screwed up -- we dump so many in there, without any chance of real reformation or help for ment ...more
Emily
I saw Piper Kerman speak at a conference last week, and I was blown away by how articulate and thoughtful she was. She theorized that the first step to solving any problem is empathy: the ability to see the world from another point of view, and then envision what a better world would look like from both perspectives. Her time in prison taught her that empathy, and she came out a better person.

But that experience - exiting prison as a changed, improved version of oneself - is extremely rare, and
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Laura
Somehow it went over my head that series was based on a book..HOW did that happen to me?! But as I watch the netflix seasons roll pass I started to notice how the show took a nose dive, now I can see why. The show and the book are well tied together besides the obvious differences and it's done well enough that when reading the book I was like 'Oh I remember this part in the show'...Now the show has to spread it's own wings and well...

Anyway, for the most part I liked this book..But there was a
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Piper Kerman majored in theater at Smith College and graduated in the recession year of 1992. So the boho Bostonian stuck around Northampton, waiting tables and spinning her wheels.

Then she got involved with Nora Jansen, who suddenly acquired a lot of money, and before she knew it, Kerman was crisscrossing the globe with her drug-trafficking girlfriend and even, just once, running drug money hers
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“We were never friends. Not for a second. I loved you.” 80 likes
“We have a racially based justice system that overpunishes, fails to rehabilitate, and doesn't make us safer.” 55 likes
More quotes…