Thursday, August 11, 2011

Orange is the New Black

I just finished reading Piper Kerman's ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. I discovered it accidentally--yep, wandering around a bookstore (could somebody please pay me to do this??). I had never even heard of this book--once again, drawn to it by the cover art (thank you good graphic designers).

It is the story of the year that she spent in federal prison as a result of being young, stupid and carrying a large sum of drug money for someone she foolishly trusted. It's not so much the how of how she got to prison but what happens to her in the time spent there. If you have been misled to think that federal prison is only one step down from a country club, think again. This book will make you think again and again and again.

The relationships Piper forms with the other women in the prison and the deepening of her relationships with her family and friends outside the prison walls during this time are an interesting juxtaposition to one another. This book is also quite an eye-opener about our justice system, mandatory drug sentencing and the effects of that system on women and the children of incarcerated women.

I don't have any idea what it would be like to lose all my privileges and freedoms but this book gives a taste of that. Piper Kerman's story does not make excuses for what she did to wind up in prison but it is profound call for compassion for those who are imprisoned.

She's also able to write about this with wit and humor--otherwise i think the story would be one that is too hard to tell and even harder to read.

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