Orange is the new Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman Book Review

Orange is the new Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison is the captivating book in which the popular Netflix series is based upon. After binge-watching season 2 on Netflix and then season 1 again, followed by an encore of season 2, I was at a loss. So, my next thought was: wait a minute, this show is based on a book. I was hesitant because most based-on-book shows or movies are so similar that halfway through the book you realize it’s kind of pointless to keep reading.

I was pleasantly surprised; the book is quite different than the series but still very intriguing. The show has a great deal more sex, violence, with dramatic plot twists but most decent shows do. The book describes, in vast detail, Piper Kerman’s time spent in a federal corrections facility in Danbury, Connecticut. Kerman is an average upper-middle class woman with a career, loving boyfriend, friends, and family. However, a crime committed nearly ten years prior creeps up on her and she is sentenced to fifteen months in prison.

Kerman takes the reader on a realistic and uncensored journey behind the closed doors of a women’s prison. The book shows the daily routine of an inmate in a women’s correctional facility and how prison life is a world all its own.  From the first cavity search to the one thousand different uses for maxi pads, no detail is spared in this memoir.

The different relationships that Kerman establishes with the other inmates during her sentence are unexpected and fascinating. Each inmate has a story, a face, and a name making it difficult to place all the female inmates into the same category. Many of the inmates depicted in this book are low level offenders involving non-violent criminal charges. Kerman has an incredible way of making each character, even an inmate, eerily like you and I. As if we are all merely one bad decision or mistake from being in her shoes. Overall, Orange is the new Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison is an excellent book and it is a lot different than the show.

Orange is the new Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison is the captivating book in which the popular Netflix series is based upon. After binge-watching season 2 on Netflix and then season 1 again, followed by an encore of season 2, I was at a loss. So, my next thought was: wait a minute, this show is based on a book. I was hesitant because most based-on-book shows or movies are so similar that halfway through the book you realize it’s kind of pointless to keep reading. I was pleasantly surprised; the book is quite different than the series but still very intriguing. The show has a great deal more sex, violence, with dramatic plot twists but most decent shows do. The book describes, in vast detail, Piper Kerman’s time spent in a federal corrections facility in Danbury, Connecticut. Kerman is an average upper-middle class woman with a career, loving boyfriend, friends, and family. However, a crime committed nearly ten years prior creeps up on her and she is sentenced to fifteen months in prison. Kerman takes the reader on a realistic and uncensored journey behind the closed doors of a women’s prison. The book shows the daily routine of an inmate in a women’s correctional facility and how prison life is a world all its own.  From the first cavity search to the one thousand different uses for maxi pads, no detail is spared in this memoir. The different relationships that Kerman establishes with the other inmates during her sentence are unexpected and fascinating. Each inmate has a story, a face, and a name making it difficult to place all the female inmates into the same category. Many of the inmates depicted in this book are low level offenders involving non-violent criminal charges. Kerman has an incredible way of making each character, even an inmate, eerily like you and I. As if we are all merely one bad decision or mistake from being in her shoes. Overall, Orange is the new Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison is an excellent book and it is a lot different than the show.

This is a great book.

My Rating

4 and 1/2 stars

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison is a book about one woman's experience in a female prison. There is a show that is based upon the book that I reviewed.

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Sarah Morris

Sarah Morris resides in Portland, Maine and travels to New Hampshire quite often. She has recently completed a Bachelor Degree in Legal Studies. Sarah loves to travel and takes as many road trips as she can. She enjoys reading and writing and is happy to have free time to do so now that her degree is finished. If you would like to contact and or learn more about Sarah you can e-mail her at: Sarah23842@aol.com


  • Alyssa D’Urso

    I loved this book and love the show so much! I cannot wait until this summer for the third season. The one thing I did find with the book though is that I always felt like something was being left untold by Piper due to legalities. Great read though. It was great to see a women’s perspective on life in a prison.

    • Sarah Morris

      Alyssa-
      Thank you for your comments. I also loved this book and the show. There are so many prison shows/books out there but most are about men’s prisons. So reading and watching one about a female prison was very interesting. I cannot wait for season 3 to come out too.

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