Thursday, August 29, 2013

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison

by Piper Kerman
August 4-19, 2013

It all started with Arrested Development, Season 4. WHAT?! Well, the highly anticipated, Netflix-only fourth season is what convinced me to join Netflix in the first place (BTW, you need to watch it if ever you were an AD fan). And after I tore through all 15 episodes, my Netflix suggestions taunted me with OITNB. I ignored them. After all, I know I missed the boat on Mad Men, and I had every intention of binge-watching it next. Then, my favorite fashion gurus wrote this post. That was all I needed.

Wow. Quite possibly the best show (a Netflix original series) I've ever watched. I'm not really going to go into great detail about it though, since I'm here to talk about the book, but trust me, watch it. You'll thank me later. It's been a constant discussion between myself and other Orange fans, obsessing over online articles about the cast as well as the real-life Piper. By about episode eight, I had to have the book.

The book, a memoir, is the true story of what happened to Kerman as a result of some bad decisions made right after graduating from Smith and her need for a little adventure in life (the show is loosely based on the truth). There isn't too much to say about it because it is what it is. It's not great story-telling, nor is really meant to be. It's an account of the facts. What I enjoyed most was recognizing the parallels to the show as well as when the show embellished on the truth.

After serving 15 months in a minimum security women's prison, Kerman walked away having learned a great lesson, but she also became an advocate for women's rights within the prison walls. To an extent, I agree with her, but then again, isn't that what prison is about? It's punishment, not vacation, and I'm sorry if your government-supplied underwear is uncomfortable or if the food is bland (although I cannot condone feeding anyone moldy food). I'm generalizing, I know, but this is a bigger discussion, and my little ol' blog just isn't the forum.

So my recommendations is this: watch the show. Now. Then read the book. I promise it won't spoil anything that the first season may not have covered. And unfortunately season two is about a year away.

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