First of all, I am so tired of books with the title *Something* is the new black and then a whole lot of subtitle. It’s just too much. Get creative people.
I will forgive it in this case because this book is fantastic. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison traces the story of Piper Kerman as she spends a year in federal prison for a drug offense she committed ten years prior to her incarceration. I really appreciate that she takes full responsibility for her crime and how her view of her crime evolves over the course of the book.
This look inside a women’s federal prison is unlike anything I have ever read. It illuminates the community that is formed within these prisons. We learn the rules of the game with her through her first months in the prison. We are surprised with her as the other inmates provide her with supplies she will need – shower shoes, soap, etc. – until her own commissary account can be set up. We all rejoice when one of her dear friends finally gets her GED.
While telling her own story, she also explores some of more controversial and political aspects of the prison system. She touches on the abuses by prison guards and other inmates, but that is not the heart of this story. She acknowledges the problems with minimum sentences and drug laws, but battles with how to reconcile that with the fact that some of her fellow inmates admit they are just doing their time so they can get back out on the streets and start using again. She is very aware of how her situation is very different from that of many of her fellow inmates.
I highly recommend this book. In fact, go get it right now. I’ll wait…..
So, what did you think?