March Book Review : Orange Is the New Black

Under the Oaks blog : Orange is the New Black Book Review

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In March I decided to find a book from my “to read” list and download via Audible to listen to for my commute to work. The cold weather, snow, and long work hours had been making me feel as though I was living in my own personal prison therefore I’d decided to finally read Orange is the New Black, a memoir by Piper Kerman.

I’ll be honest, I’ve watched the first season of the made for Netflix show and didn’t know quite what to expect because the show is incredible outrageous if looked at as being someone’s real life experience. To my relief, the show has very little in common with the book. Orange is the New Black is a memoir based on the experience of being locked up in a women’s prison for a little more than a year. Piper Kerman was found guilty on a 10-year old offense [moving drug money between countries] and sentenced to 15 months in Danbury, Connecticut’s women’s correctional facility.  Kerman details the strip searches, the jobs, the food, the visits, and most importantly the people.

“Prison is quite literally a ghetto in the most classic sense of the word. A place where the U.S. government now not only puts the dangerous, but also the inconvenient. People who are mentally ill, people who are addicts, people who are poor and uneducated, and unskilled.”

In thinking about the last book I read I reflected on this statement from Kerman and I agreed. I agree with punishment for crimes, but I wonder about the percentage of people in prison who are unnecessarily there because there is no where else for them to go, or those that go to prison and end up back in prison over and over and over. In one chapter Kerman describes the pre-release “classes” that are offered to inmates and how they are taught by the officers that work the prison, but don’t actually provide good information about how to find work, avoid drugs, or rent an apartment.

Kerman also spoke of drug addiction and how her life lesson came in not being locked up, but rather recognizing that she played a small roll in the lives of those that she’d become friends with in prison. Their addictions, crimes, and sentences were because of people like her that had financially gained from the downtrodden. What a vicious cycle indeed.

“I finally understood the true consequences of my own actions, I had helped these terrible things happen. What finally made me recognize the indifferent cruelty of my own past wasn’t the constraints put on me by the U.S. government, nor the debt I had amassed for legal fees, nor the fact that I could not be with the man I loved, it was sitting, talking, and working with and knowing the people who suffered because of what people like me had done.”

I’m looking for a good April read, any suggestions? xoxo ‘n lols, crystal


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