Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
My Year in a Women's Prison

73%

35 Critic Reviews

Brushing up against the daily indignities of lockup is the text of the story that spills out in Orange Is The New Black, but Kerman never shrinks from the human element, even when regret and repentance overwhelm her.
-AV Club

Synopsis

NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
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
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 

About Piper Kerman

See more books from this Author
Piper Kerman is vice president of a Washington, D.C.-based communications firm that works with foundations and nonprofits. A graduate of Smith College, she lives in Brooklyn.
 
Published April 6, 2010 by Spiegel & Grau. 322 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Crime. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jul 06 2014
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Orange Is the New Black
All: 35 | Positive: 28 | Negative: 7

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Mar 08 2010

Kerman's account radiates warmly from her skillful depiction of the personalities she befriended in prison, such as the Russian gangster's wife who ruled the kitchen...Kerman's ordeal indeed proved life altering.

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Examiner

Above average
on Aug 28 2010

The book is best when focused on the sociology of it, or when reflecting on what all of this says about our justice system and our country. What we call “corrections,” for instance, corrects nothing at all.

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NY Journal of Books

Above average
on Apr 06 2010

The journey that Piper Kerman takes the reader on in this memoir is at times a rocky one on a winding road, but the destination makes the journey worthwhile. Well done.

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AV Club

Above average
on Apr 08 2010

Brushing up against the daily indignities of lockup is the text of the story that spills out in Orange Is The New Black, but Kerman never shrinks from the human element, even when regret and repentance overwhelm her.

Read Full Review of Orange Is the New Black: My Y... | See more reviews from AV Club

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Diana Wagman on Apr 25 2010

When Kerman looks up at the sun, she sees the sunshine and it feels warm. She is not a poet or a master of metaphor. But this book is impossible to put down because she could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter.

Read Full Review of Orange Is the New Black: My Y... | See more reviews from LA Times

USA Today

Above average
Reviewed by Deirdre Donahue on Aug 21 2010

The saddest part of Orange is how unprepared most of the women are to make new lives once they get out. By contrast, Kerman had a job waiting, not to mention the faithful Larry. You sense she wrote Orange to make readers think not about her but her fellow inmates. And, boy, does she succeed

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Book Buzz

Below average
Reviewed by Sarah Chain on Aug 30 2013

I’m not sure what I expected from “Orange Is the New Black,” but I’ve heard great things about the Netflix series, and for me, the book just didn’t measure up.

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BookDragon

Below average
on Jul 13 2014

As literature, Orange‘s shock factor makes it more of a page-turner than the actual writing; one more edit to further cull repeats and whining would have certainly made it a stronger book.

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Lancaster Online

Good
Reviewed by JJ LANDIS on Jan 23 2014

Very few books are written from the perspective of a woman inmate, which makes this story a rare and fascinating account of what goes on behind the barbed wire.

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The BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Eliza on Jul 25 2011

Kerman is skilled at depicting the dynamics within the prison and the vast variety of emotions she felt while she was incarcerated. This is the perfect book club book: It’s a page-turner in its own right, but it will also lead to conversation about justice and current events.

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Star News

Good
on Jun 13 2010

OK, it’s not as shocking as “Oz,” and there’s nothing prurient about it. Still Kerman proves a deft memoirist, with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a wry eye, and her tour through the prison system proves an entertaining and thoughtful read.

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Chicago Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by J. Courtney Sullivan on May 04 2010

Though certain aspects of her own story never quite seem resolved, her sympathetic portraits of these people stay with you long after the book is through.

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Bust Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Amanda Cantrell on Aug 28 2010

Orange Is the New Black offers a fascinating glimpse inside the walls of a women's prison. The most interesting-and touching-part of the book concerns the bonds Kerman formed in prison with women she never would have met on the outside, let alone befriended.

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http://skrishnasbooks.com

Above average
Reviewed by Swampna Krishna on Jul 01 2012

Overall, Orange is the New Black was a fascinating memoir. It was easy to sympathize with Kerman, even when she was difficult to like, and her growth over the course of the memoir made it a rewarding read.

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Quick Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by David Ben Efraim on Aug 13 2013

To be frank, as insightful and interesting as it was to learn about life in minimum security women’s prisons, a criminally under-discussed subject, it did feel as if Piper tried so hard to show herself as not being above anyone else, that she ended up doing the contrary.

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Reading for Sanity

Above average
Reviewed by Heather on Oct 14 2013

I longed for more information on the gals Piper befriended while in prison but this information only barely presented itself. For all my complaints I must admit there were some very good aspects to this story.

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Nomad Reader

Good
on Jul 16 2013

Orange is the New Black was an unexpectedly poignant memoir about women banding together to face adversity. Don't be mistaken, there's plenty of dark here too, but Kerman expertly paints portraits of the inmates' individual and collective humanity; this memoir excels because it doesn't shy away from the good and bad decisions of its inhabitants.

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Book Addiction

Good
Reviewed by Heather on Jan 20 2014

This is a fantastic memoir that I highly recommend. I can see why it became such a hugely popular TV show when it was released on Netflix...

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Booking in Heels

Above average
Reviewed by Hanna Whitehead on Mar 29 2014

I think this review might come across as negative when actually I did enjoy Orange is the New Black. Piper is a little uppity and preachy, but it's bearable. It's an enjoyable and accessible memoir about a minimum security women's prison; just take her social commentary with a pinch of salt.

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Pop Culture Nerd

Above average
Reviewed by Thuy Dinh on May 08 2010

I wish she had probed more deeply into other cases besides her own, to prove that the mandatory minimum sentences...are inherently unfair...

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http://blogs.slj.com

Good
Reviewed by MARK FLOWERS on Oct 16 2013

Kerman’s memoir is rich with insight. She acknowledges that she is the oddity; the majority of incarcerated women are from uneducated, lower-class backgrounds. And yet, in vital ways, Kerman is exactly like the other inmates.

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Caroline Bookbinder

Good
Reviewed by Carin Siegried on Jul 16 2010

I don't know if I could have done it. But Piper does. With dignity, honesty, and a respect for...everyone she encounters, this is a superb cautionary tale.

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Having Said That

Above average
Reviewed by Heather on Nov 17 2013

Piper’s writing is clear and to the point. She paints a vivid picture about what she endured while she was in prison, and allows the rest of the work a peek behind a curtain we don’t often have access to.

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The Brunette Librarian

Excellent
on Jan 09 2012

Wow! This is one of those books that is true to the term of a page turner. Piper Kerman, our author, chronicles her time in a women's prison in such a realistic way that you feel as if you served the time with her

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Diary of a Bookworm

Good
on Jan 10 2014

What I liked the most about Orange is the New Black, is how Kerman wove political info with daily antidotes, the good the bad and the ugly, together in a very easy read. Told in a very anecdotal way, there is nothing daunting or "heavy" about her book.

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Entertainment Realm

Good
on Aug 27 2013

Piper’s story is at times upsetting and at other times amusing. She’s a courageous woman and Orange is the New Black is a gift to readers and an inspiration

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The Feminist Texican Reads

Above average
on Mar 04 2014

...she’s a lot more thoughtful than the show would have you believe. If you’re a fan of the series, you should check out the real deal.

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The Three R's Blog

Above average
on Dec 03 2013

One reason I hadn’t been previously inclined to read Orange Is the New Black before this was that I had an impression of it as a “debutante goes to prison” story. That premise annoyed me, and I was happy to discover it was incorrect--the episodes of diva behavior depicted in this memoir rarely originate with its author.

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Amy Reads

Good
on Jul 12 2010

This was a really great book that I would recommend to everyone. It makes you think about who ends up in prison, and why. It also makes you think about who gets off easier than others and why. And about the treatment of prisoners.

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The Cascade

Good
Reviewed by Christopher Demarcus on Sep 11 2013

Lean and strong writing with little unnecessary exposition builds a smooth and flowing non-fiction narrative. The words shine with honesty. It’s superior to the show. Read it.

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The Book Lady's Blog

Good
Reviewed by Rebecca Schinsky on May 03 2010

I tore through Orange is the New Black and cannot say enough how well Kerman uses her personal experiences to illustrate the large problems with the U.S. prison system and to make larger meaning out of her year in prison.

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The Reading Chic

Good
Reviewed by Sierra on Apr 06 2014

Orange is the New Black was a very enjoyable memoir, especially for my first one. If it hadn't started watching the Netflix series...I don't think I would have ever picked this book up. I recommend it to fans of the show and to anybody who enjoys reading memoirs.

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The House of Seven Tails

Good
Reviewed by Amy Meyer on May 20 2010

Orange is the New Black is a humorous, touching and captivating memoir by a woman who made a terrible mistake in her early twenties and, as a result, serves time in prison, her head held high, ten years later.

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Daniel Threlfall

Good
on Jan 05 2014

Name your con­cern, and it’s prob­a­bly brought up within the pages of this book. There’s even a sec­tion on the rivalry between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees.

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Leafing Through Life

Good
Reviewed by Megan on Jun 02 2010

Orange is the New Black is at once profoundly revealing and effortlessly entertaining. Kerman has a vivid, honest voice that doesn't drift into self-pity but instead keenly observes the people around her both good and bad

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Reader Rating for Orange Is the New Black
74%

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