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Orange Is the New Black

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  145,594 Ratings  ·  12,819 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 —
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau
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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)
Carrie Jolly It's a memoir. If you like reading biographies or watching documentaries, this book is for you. I found it very engaging.I haven't watched the show…moreIt's a memoir. If you like reading biographies or watching documentaries, this book is for you. I found it very engaging.I haven't watched the show but I imagine it's very different. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Larry Smith
Aug 14, 2010 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.
Oct 01, 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
Jul 06, 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
Sep 03, 2013 Clair 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
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
Nov 18, 2013 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
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
Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin

I totally picked up this book because I love the show on Netflix and wanted to read about the real deal.

This is one of my favorite shows and it's funny because I could pick out some of the real people in the book that are in the show. Obviously the real names are not given.

Piper talks about the stupid, stupid drug stuff she got into with Nora. I mean moving drugs and money for a drug lord, come on. And then 10 years later, she gets caught and taken to jail! Just when you think you turned your
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
Lisa Vegan
May 02, 2010 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
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.
Apr 03, 2016 Esil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I have never watched Orange is the New Black, but a few GR reviews had me curious about the book that formed the basis for the show. I listened to the audio. It would be easy to be fairly negative about this book:

-As a white university educated upper middle class woman, Piper is completely unrepresentative of the general prison population -- for example, while other women worry about where they are going to live when they get released, Piper's fiancé is buying an apartment in Brooklyn.
-She comes
Jul 17, 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
Jul 15, 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
Mar 23, 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
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.
Jun 02, 2017 Kelli rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, memoirs
So, that was interesting. Not exactly the adjective I would expect to apply to a prison memoir. I rather enjoyed my time listening to this audio, which made Danbury sound like a bit of a sorority. Very unexpected.

The author told her version of her story, which ironically often felt light and breezy, giving me the sense that a lot was left out. While telling her story though, she brought up many issues and flaws in our justice system, focusing on the lack of restorative justice, sentencing inequa
Sep 27, 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
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,
Sep 25, 2013 Sara 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
Tylah Marie
This was so boring my gosh. Probably because I've already watched the TV show so I definitely had higher expectations but ugh... this took me 8 months to read that's how boring it was. Sigh.
Jul 26, 2016 Malia rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Having watched some of OITNB without succumbing to its apparent lure, I was skeptical about the book this popular series is based on, added to that, I tend to shy away from non-fiction. However, I come away from it feeling glad to have taken the plunge. Kerman comes across as flawed but thoughtful, and her insight into the prison system here in the US was fascinating and disturbing at once. She tells of her time in prison for a long past offense of her youth, but also of the crimes of many of he ...more
Jul 09, 2015 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
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
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
Sep 18, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
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
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
Bark's Book Nonsense
Oct 15, 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
Jennifer Lane
Aug 21, 2010 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
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
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Bookworm Bitches : January 2012: Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison 82 421 Jul 19, 2017 04:32PM  
Around the Year i...: Orange is The New Black, by Piper Kerman 3 13 Jul 04, 2017 08:57AM  
OITNB: Crime In America - Thread 5 8 8 May 31, 2017 10:19AM  
OITNB: A Prisoner's Identity - Thread 4 11 10 May 24, 2017 08:10PM  
OITNB: Piper's Voice - Thread 3 15 11 May 15, 2017 07:58AM  
OITNB: Don't Judge a Book by its TV Show - Thread 1 11 15 May 15, 2017 07:43AM  
OITNB: Syntax and Rhetorical Appeals - Thread 2 14 10 Apr 23, 2017 03:34PM  
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Piper Kerman is the author of the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, a #1 New York Times Bestseller. The book has been adapted into an Emmy Award-winning original series for Netflix.

Piper is a graduate of Smith College. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Cosmopolitan and other publications. She serves on the board of directors of the Women's Pri
More about Piper Kerman...

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“We were never friends. Not for a second. I loved you.” 85 likes
“We have a racially based justice system that overpunishes, fails to rehabilitate, and doesn't make us safer.” 67 likes
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