CC Book Club: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Hello bookworms! I hope your September has been fabulous and you’re back in the swing of things at school. Inspired by Netflix‘s new show, Orange is the New Black was our book for this month. Before we jump into the discussion, just a friendly reminder that this review will contain spoilers!

Orange is the New Black is the nonfiction tale of Piper Kerman’s year spent in prison for a 10-year old drug offense. Piper’s ex-girlfriend, Nora, convinced her to help smuggle drug money around the world and long after Piper had left that world and met the love of her life, Larry, she was convicted. Due to minimum sentences for drug offenses in the US, she was sentenced to 15 months in prison. O is the new B chronicles Piper’s time spent in Danbury, a women’s prison, and the characters she met while doing time.

Firstly, I enjoyed this book. I was able to easily get through it. The writing is clear, however, it’s evident that Kerman is not an author nor trained in proper writing. The book, despite being chronological, jumps ALL over the place in terms of events and characters. There’s really not a clear path; she talks about her prison jobs all throughout, as well as goes in depth into some of her friends a handful of times. I would have appreciated a bit more clear and concise picture, but perhaps that would have drastically shortened the book.

One thing I found myself constantly thinking about was how I would fair in prison. Piper isn’t a hardened criminal; she got caught up in the lifestyle and once she had put all that behind her, got dragged back. She was a fairly normal gal, unlike the impoverished ladies she met in prison. Did you find yourself wondering if you could survive prison while you read? I kept trying to put myself in some of the situations Piper found herself in and I honestly don’t think I would have handled any of them very well.

Another thing O is the new B got me thinking about was the minimum sentences. Now, I’m nowhere near expert on the US legal system (in fact, I’m Canadian!), but I think the fact that Piper used up resources for a year in prison was ridiculous. She had nothing to do with that life anymore and didn’t really need rehabilitation or to be kept off the streets for others’ safety. What do you think of the minimum sentences for drug offenses that landed Piper in jail?

All in all, Orange in the New Black was a good book. Piper’s honesty makes the reader feel like an old friend is telling them a story and the rare look into life in a womens’ prison was so interesting!

For October, we’re going to be checking out The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan!

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