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Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black - Piper Kerman When Piper Kerman was young and stupid, she let an older girlfriend talk her into delivering a case of drug money. Although she was smart enough to get out of that relationship and went on to build a good life with a husband and a job, her past eventually caught up to her. This memoir describes the year she spent in a women’s prison as a result.

I read this book for a book club hosted by Rebecca at Love At First Book and Allison at The Book Wheel. It was a fascinating read and sparked lots of discussion, so I’d definitely recommend it to other book clubs. My favorite part of the book was learning about a part of life I’ll (hopefully) never experience. The people were very interesting and I felt like Piper was sympathetic towards the other inmates. I was impressed by the way she presented things that could be improved about the system without interrupting the narrative too much.

Personally, I’d recommend this individually less enthusiastically than I would recommend it as a book club read. Piper often describes the system as though she is an outsider looking in and as a result, I felt like I was watching the story go by instead of being immersed in it. It didn’t help that I didn’t really understand Piper. From day one, I didn’t understand why she let someone talking her into doing anything relating to drugs, so I immediately didn’t get her as a person. More time spent explaining that might have helped. I did appreciate that she seemed repentant after her prison stay and was very glad to hear that she’s currently involved in prison reform. Learning about the need for this reform and hearing the personal stories of the many women Piper met were my favorite parts of this book. I think those bits made this a worthwhile read, especially for a book club that can take advantage of the thought-provoking nature of the story.

This review first published on Doing Dewey.