Audiobook Review – Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Title: Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Womens PrisonAudiobook Review
Author: Piper Kerman
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
ISBN: 9781452677668
Audiobook Length: 11 hours, 14 minutes
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 6 April 2010
Bottom Line: Fascinating story even if I’m not a fan of the author’s voice

Orange Is the New Black by Piper KermanSynopsis:

“With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money 10 years ago. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to 15 months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187-424 – one of the millions of women who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.

From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules, where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Orange Is the New Black offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison, why it is we lock so many away, and what happens to them when they’re there.”

Thoughts:      Orange Is the New Black is a fairly typical memoir, in that one’s enjoyment of the story hinges on whether one likes the author/narrator. Piper’s race and social status means that she had a far different prison experience than someone of a different race and socioeconomic class. That she recognizes this fact is a point in her favor, but she still presents her experiences tainted with the privilege afforded someone with money and education. Her commentary about the prison system and its effectiveness provides much fodder for lengthy and worthwhile discussions. Still, there are plenty of times readers will wonder just how representative her lessons truly are.

While Piper spends a lot of the time discussing the thought process behind incarceration as a punishment, she actually spends very little time brainstorming ways for improvement. She points out many of its problems and the lack of logic associated with sentencing, but that is all she does. Given how observant she is as well as erudite, one wishes she would have gone that extra step. If the system does not work, how should it change? That is not to say the answers are not there; in fact, they are there but buried behind her words. It is as if she is still following the arbitrary prison rules even while writing this reflection of her 13 months in federal prison because she never explicitly states direct methods for improvement. Those she leaves for readers to extrapolate and interpret, a disappointing side step for someone perfectly poised to not only expose the prison system in all its ugly bureaucracy but also to champion some much-needed improvements.

For those expecting the same salacious and aggressive anecdotes as the TV show, it might behoove them to stick with the TV show. For, the memoir is not nearly as sexual or dangerous as the TV show implies. In fact, Piper comments on multiple occasions the lack of sexual intrigue occurring within and around the camp and how much it surprised her given everything one reads about prison. There is a distinct lack of violence within the memoir as well. It is there, as Piper mentions having to alter her behavior to avoid trouble; it is mostly an implied threat more than an overt one. The TV show is so extreme compared to the book, which makes for better viewing, even if the book version is a more accurate picture of the truth.

Cassandra Campbell is, as usual, excellent narrating Piper’s story. Her voice is so pleasant, and her phrasing is impeccable. This memoir has the added challenge of many ethnic voices, something for which Ms. Campbell is quite adept at handling. One can easily distinguish the origins of the inmates with whom Piper becomes friends and even differentiate among those from similar backgrounds. It is not a perfect performance however; Ms. Campbell does have a tendency to make Piper sound like a complete snob, whiny and full of her own self-worth. Still, her performance brings to vibrant life the world behind bars and the women she meets and befriends while there.

Orange Is the New Black is a fascinating look into prison life as Piper shines a light into some of its darker recesses. She may not be the most likeable protagonist at times, given her propensity to lament her missing fiancé and expound upon her family and friends’ love and generosity, but she does an excellent job exposing the inequity of the judicial and penal systems. Just when one wonders what other indignities one could suffer in the name of justice, Piper shares yet another example. It makes for an eye-opening reading experience, even if it is tame in comparison to the TV show.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Book Review – Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Title: Worldwalker Trilogy #1: Trial by Fire Author: Josephine Angelini ISBN: 9781250050885 No. of Pages: 384 Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy Origins: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group Release Date: 2 September 2014 Bottom Line: This is a must-read for any YA/fantasy fans. Synopsis: “This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Book Review – We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

Title: We Are Not Ourselves Author: Matthew Thomas ISBN: 9781476756660 No. of Pages: 640 Genre: Literary Fiction Origins: Simon and Schuster Release Date: 19 August 2014 Bottom Line: An incredible story but the subject matter hits a bit too close to home Synopsis: “Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Book Review – Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore

Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore

Title: Secrets of the Lighthouse Author: Santa Montefiore ISBN: 9781476735375 No. of Pages: 448 Genre: Women’s Fiction Origins: Simon & Schuster Release Date: 5 August 2014 Bottom Line: I feel like I should have enjoyed this more than I did. Synopsis: “Set in Ireland on the wild coast of Connemara, this hauntingly romantic novel tells…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

It’s Monday, August 25th! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading?

Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Finished Last Week: Currently Reading: Currently Listening: Up Next:        What are you reading?

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

The Sunday Salon – August 24th Edition

The Sunday Salon

I’m back, literally and figuratively! I always have the best of intentions to pop in and write an update every week, but something always keeps me away from my computer. Then again, after spending my entire week staring at a computer screen because of work, I’m not exactly anxious to power up my laptop and…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Audiobook Review – Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

Title: Better Homes and Hauntings Author: Molly Harper Narrator: Amanda Ronconi ISBN:  9781491507964 Audiobook Length: 8 hours, 58 minutes Genre: Romance; Fantasy Origins: Mine. All mine. Release Date: 24 June 2014 Bottom Line: Different from her normal story but still lots of fun Synopsis: “When Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Book Review – Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans

Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans

Title: Memory Chronicles #2: Chasing Before Author: Lenore Appelhans ISBN: 9781442441880 No. of Pages: 368 Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy Origins: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Release Date: 26 August 2014 Bottom Line: Doesn’t stand under scrutiny but still a fun story Synopsis: “It’s been four months since Felicia saved Level 2 from the…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Book Review – Amity by Micol Ostow

Amity by Micol Ostow

Title: Amity Author: Micol Ostow ISBN: 9781606841563 No. of Pages: 368 Genre: Horror; Young Adult Origins: Egmont USA Release Date: 26 August 2014 Bottom Line: Fantastic old-fashioned haunted house horror Synopsis: “Connor’s family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she’s…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Book Review – Feral by Holly Schindler

Feral by Holly Schindler

p5rn7vb Title: Feral Author: Holly Schindler ISBN: 9780062220202 No. of Pages: 432 Genre: Psychological Thriller; Young Adult Origins: HarperTeen Release Date: 26 August 2014 Bottom Line: Misleading synopsis leads to a mediocre story Synopsis: “It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS