Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

May 19, 2014 Memoirs 36

Hello my darling Bookworms!

I know I’ve been a bit out of touch, and I do apologize, but I had a lot of good quality Aunt-ing to get done over the past week. It’s been wonderful, but I’m hopping back in the saddle. I suppose now would be an appropriate time to make a joke about being a prisoner to my book habit, because we’re going to PRISON, y’all! You know that super mega popular Netflix show everyone is talking about, Orange Is the New Black? Well. It was a book first and I’m gonna talk about it.

orangeisthenewblackYou know how when you’re in your early 20s you do crazy things? I mean, I know I spent the ages of 22-24 knee deep in a pile of very saucy novels…  (I’m basically the squarest square that ever was. Why I’m the very root of square. See what I did there? I made a math joke to prove what a nerd I am. But I digress.) When Piper Kerman was in her early 20s, she spent her time following her lady love around the globe as she conducted a drug smuggling ring. As one does when exploring her sexuality and indulging her sense of adventure.

After a while, the big smuggling bosses aren’t content to simply have Piper along for the free drinks and vacation spots. She’s asked to smuggle a suitcase of money through an airport. Everything goes according to plan, but Piper takes her stint with smuggling as a one-time-only thing and moves on with her life.

Several years later, however, her past catches up to her. Piper is convicted of a drug charge and sentenced to 15 months in a federal minimum security prison. An intriguing fish-out-of-water story, Orange Is the New Black is Kerman’s memoir of how those 15 months were spent. With the benefit of her Ivy League education and unshakable support system, Kerman is able to use her experiences to examine the unique predicament of non-violent offenders in the US Prison system.

Interspersing her narrative with statistical evidence, Kerman questions mandatory minimum sentences, the treatment of female prisoners, and the concept of prison as rehabilitation. As thought provoking as it is amusing, Orange Is the New Black is a fabulous read.

I had not seen an episode of the TV version of the show prior to reading this book, but after I mentioned it to my BFF, she insisted I watch a couple of episodes with her… While snuggling a 2 week old baby who has no concept of profanity or appropriateness, naturally. Despite the fact that I wouldn’t shut up about the inconsistencies, the show was super entertaining in its own rite. I think I’m going to have to get a subscription to Netflix.

All right, Bookworms. It’s time to own up. How many of you when watching a film or television version of a book rather loudly point out the inconsistencies? (This question is framed assuming you’re at home, of course.  It’s just RUDE to be loud in a theater.) 

36 Responses to “Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman”

  1. Andi (Estella's Revenge)

    I haven’t read the book yet, but David downloaded this one on audio after we finished marathon-watching the show. I am a pointer-outer of inconsistencies, naturally. You knew I would be!

  2. Heather @ Capricious Reader

    That whole segueway at the beginning got me nervous. I was like, did you got to JAIL last week? WTF? LOL I have been curious about this book since it was first published! And then the show. It’s one of those books that just keeps popping up on my radar. I imagine I’ll have to read it eventually just to make it go away. Since you say it is fabulous, I’ll make a point to get to it sooner than later!

  3. Megan M.

    I love, love, love the show! I cannot wait for Season 2 in June!!! I thought about reading the books, but Piper is the most annoying character to me, so I’ve been hesitant. LOL

    I can’t help myself, I have to point out the differences in an adaptation, but I usually wait until the movie is over and then go, “You know that one scene? It was all wrong.” Like after we watched The Book Thief, I had to say something about one scene that they changed that baffled me, because I thought it was really powerful and important in the book. I know that’s vague, but I’m trying not to spoiler anyone.

    • Words For Worms

      Piper in the show is waaaaaaaaaaay more annoying than book Piper. I watched 2 episodes and wanted to tell show Piper to grow a pair. Book Piper had more chutzpah.

  4. Shannon @ River City Reading

    I did the unthinkable and watched the show before reading this book, but I still want to go back and read this one (though, I was pointing out the real life inconsistencies because I teach in a prison, so I’m certainly no fun).

  5. AMB (Koiviolet)

    I haven’t seen the show or read the book, but it sounds very interesting. I love social commentary on those types of issues (prison reform is a subject that sometimes becomes part of my real-life job).

    This made me laugh (I’m the same way!): “I’m basically the squarest square that ever was. Why I’m the very root of square. See what I did there? I made a math joke to prove what a nerd I am. But I digress.”

    • Words For Worms

      LOL, I’m glad you liked my lame nerd joke! You would probably really dig this book, it’s got lots of great social commentary and anecdotes about the innards of the prison system. Rife for a lawyer’s perspective!

  6. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf

    I haven’t read the book yet, but enjoyed the first season! You make me want to read the book before the second season begins. 🙂 (Although I’m not sure I’ll have time and I’m sure as heck not gonna wait haha)

  7. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I try not to! The best weapon in my not-doing-that arsenal is just not to reread the thing until after the movie/TV show/whatever comes out. And I also just generally try not to mind about inconsistencies. I try to recognize that shifts of medium require shifts in plot, and that adaptations are sometimes at their most interesting when they depart from the source material. But it’s harrrrrd! :p

    • Words For Worms

      You know, there were things I liked about the show better than the book- they did a good job of making it stand on its own. If it had been just a straight adaptation, it wouldn’t make for a very entertaining show. Still. I’m an insufferable know-it-all.

  8. Joules (from Pocketful of Joules)

    I read the book when it first came out and enjoyed it. I JUST watched season one of the Netflix series (finished it a week or so ago) and LOVED the show. I purposefully did not re-read the book before watching the show because then all those changes would drive me crazy. And yes, I have the date that season 2 launches in my phone so I don’t miss it!

  9. Charleen

    I’m mostly pretty good about not doing that. Instead I wait until after the movie’s over and then go on a tirade. The one that pops to mind immediately is the third Harry Potter movie. I mean, yeah, all of them have inconsistencies, but since PoA was my favorite book, they’re that much more pronounced. (“So they can have fun with time-travel scenes, but they can’t find a moment to explain how Lupin knew about the map?!”)

  10. Heather

    Eric and I *just* watched the first season of the TV adaptation. It’s good. I’ll read the book eventually.

    • Words For Worms

      The book is a lot less dramatic, I can tell you that from only watching 2 episodes. Still very entertaining, and a lot of food for thought.

  11. Psychobabble

    Uh, I always do that.
    I’m a purist in that I think movies should match the books. If they don’t, then title them something different.
    This book is now on my list, even though I’ve already seen season 1 and am eagerly awaiting season 2.

  12. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I try to hold back on pointing out inconsistencies until a show is over, but I definitely do it! In some cases I’m not annoyed by changes if I feel like they stayed true to the heart of the book and made the movie or TV version better, but in the case of Orange is the New Black I felt like adding so much drama took away from the important message of the book – what a women’s prison is really like.

  13. Leah @ Books Speak Volumes

    I love the show but have been on the fence about reading the book. It’s some weird thing about liking it in one format and not wanting the experience of getting it in a different format to cheapen the first one? (It doesn’t make sense, but I’m sure the book is fabulous.)

  14. Chrizette

    I finished this book in audio last week and loved it. Who would have thought that a book about prison could have lol-moments!
    PS: Just have to say that I loved your “math-joke” 🙂

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