Book 40 of my 2017 Reading Challenge
read from July 6 - 15
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman
Summary (via the book jacket)
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.
No, I haven't watched the show. I'm not sure if I will; I don't watch a lot of TV and the list of programs in my Netflix queue is long. Not as long as my "to-read" list but still probably more than I'll watch in my lifetime.
I rated it 4 stars because it was an interesting story and easy to read but I will admit my own issues with why I didn't love this book. Maybe I'm bitter on behalf of the people who don't have a job waiting at their friend's company when they get out, or a book deal, or a Netflix show. Or it could be because of the multiple times she gave examples of prison employees/fellow inmates saying things along the lines of 'what's a woman like you doing here?'/'you don't look like you belong here'/etc. etc. I'm glad she recognizes her privilege and joined a non-profit but those are still my feelings and it clouded how I read the book.
It's unimaginable to me to have to wait as long as she did between the time she knew she would be going to jail and the time she actually went. How can someone be expected to live their life? It's extra time on a person's sentence because you wouldn't feel comfortable committing to a job or starting a family when you know you'll be leaving but have no idea when. Our court system needs improvement.
Quote from the Book
"I had only the most tenuous idea of what might happen next, but I knew that I would have to be brave. Not foolhardy, not in love with risk and danger, not making ridiculous exhibitions of myself to prove that I wasn't terrified - really, genuinely brave. Brave enough to be quiet when quiet was called for, brave enough to observe before flinging myself into something, brave enough to not abandon my true self when someone else wanted to seduce or force me in a direction I didn't want to go, brave enough to stand my ground quietly. I waited an unquantifiable amount of time while trying to be brave."