2015: 9. Orange is the New Black

"International baggage claim in the Brussels airport was large and airy, with multiple carousels circling endlessly."

Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman

We all know what Orange is the New Black is.  We all love the series (girl, we totally love the series.  Cannot wait to get back to see more Crazy Eyes).  This is the book the series rose from, and, since it is a memoir, not a Netflix show, it is, unsurprisingly totally different.  Except for the basic underlying idea that the prison-industrial complex, and in particular, the war on drugs, is not great for America.  It's not a collection of stories from women in prison, but rather, one woman's story and her thoughts on the prison system.

As you know, Piper Kerman is an upper middle class white woman, a graduate of Smith College, who was briefly involved with an international drug runner.  She helped her girlfriend run some drugs, she was caught, and she went to prison.  She did it - and admits it, and she did her time.  But she wrote her book to tell people what prison was like (at least for her), and what she thinks doesn't work about it.  And you know, it's a pretty good book.

For starters, real Piper is sooooo much less annoying than tv Piper.  Which is to say, she doesn't come across as whiny or entitled in any way.  Rather, she admits what she did, admits that she is pretty privileged, and goes from there.  I mean, tv Piper is more fun to watch, but real Piper is a better person.  The book didn't expand my horizons too much - having seen the series, and, as an attorney, being at least vaguely familiar with the problems of the criminal justice system, nothing in this book was terribly new.  But it's a good reminder of how prison isn't doing what we need it too, and how much waste there is in the system.  If you like the series and want to know more about the reality, I think you'd enjoy this book. 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017