After finishing college, Piper Kerman started having adventures. She took off with her lover Nora, she jumped off cliffs, basically started living a reckless existence. Piper Kerman had little regard for the conventional rules when she was young and having fun. This unfortunately led to a one time drug money trafficking situation which came back to haunt her nearly ten years after the event.
Piper Kerman was incarcerated for 15 months. It was during those fifteen months (and with the help and love of her fellow inmates) that Kerman really began to truly understand what it means to live.
I have to admit, my sole reason for reading this book is that I am desperate to watch the television series and since I have a weird OCD rule about not watching films or TV shows based on books before reading them, Orange is the New Black did get boosted up the TBR pile. Also, my aunty Susie was pretty insistent that I read and watch so she had someone to discuss the series with.
I think, like most people, I went into this book believing one thing about prisoners. People in the big house are bad. They have committed a crime and now they are doing time as a punishment. What I didn’t expect was the level of empathy and warmth I felt towards Kerman and her fellow inmates. Sure, the story was told with the perspective of a prisoner so it was unlikely that Kerman would be unnecessarily demonise her prison colleagues, however, what did become apparent is that, like Kerman herself, a lot of the women she shared prison life with were just victims of their own circumstance. Furthermore, they were the victims of a judicial system that doesn’t rehabilitate inmates to the best level.
However, Kerman does not bemoan her station in life; she doesn’t wallow in self pity and expect everyone to feel sorry for her. She knows the part she played in her incarceration and she owns it with honesty, balls and quite frankly a level of integrity that we should all aspire to have.
What Kerman manages to do so very excellently within Orange is the New Black is to raise awareness of the prison system in America, highlighting its very obvious flaws whilst respectfully understanding that she did commit a crime and acknowledging that she should pay for her sins. Hopefully the work that Piper Kerman has done since then – with this book amongst other things – will help to garner future reform for prisoners in the future.
Now, how do I download series one from NetFlix?
For more information on Piper Kerman please visit www.piperkerman.com
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is available now.