In the bestselling memoir that became the hit Netflix series, a well-heeled Smith College graduate's criminal past catches up with her when she is sentenced to 15 months at a federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut.
... a primarily angry, but eventually calming memoir ... words that begin with 'f' and 's'...appear on about every other page. This reviewer was surprised that an editor had not elected to remove the terms, which became repetitive and annoying ... Instead of blaming herself or her fellow inmates for their crimes, Kerman attempts to label the criminal justice system’s officials as evil. It just does not work. As they say, if you can’t do the time then don’t do the crime ... In the end, a painful tale of incarceration winds up as a positive story of self-acceptance ... The journey that Piper Kerman takes the reader on in this memoir is at times a rocky one on a winding road, but the destination makes the journey worthwhile. Well done.
... a perceptive, if imperfect inside look at our criminal justice system and the women who cycle through it ... When Kerman reflects on this time [smuggling drug money], she seems unwilling or unable to explore her motivations, and more often resorts to describing her lifestyle in list form ... In contrast, her depiction of arriving at the prison in 2004—saying goodbye to Larry, surrendering all her possessions—is poignant and thoroughly-rendered. If the author seems hard to relate to in her wild-child days, empathy abounds as she skillfully describes her sense of terror upon losing all freedom ... Kerman excels at chronicling the other women and their struggles, from teenagers doing time for drug-related crimes to a 69-year-old nun in jail for trespassing as part of a peaceful protest at a missile silo ... She is less successful at talking about herself. Occasionally, she opens up, and these moments are powerful. But, a public relations executive by trade, Kerman is often frustratingly careful, polite. She paints nearly everyone pretty rosily and without much nuance. Everyone, that is, except 'The Fed' ... While acknowledging her privileged background, Kerman never fully dispels the reader’s discomfort when she more or less conflates her own case with those of the majority of the women around her ... Though certain aspects of her own story never quite seem resolved, her sympathetic portraits of these people stay with you long after the book is through.
... if you pick up Kerman’s book looking for a realistic peek inside an American prison, you will be disappointed. Orange Is the New Black belongs in a different category, the middle-class-transgression genre ... Though by the tenets of the transgression memoir she must repent, in Kerman’s case, the girl does not dig deep enough to come up with any genuine regret ... chest-beating rings false to the reader, because it’s clear that Kerman believes drug trafficking was merely a version of youthful rebellion ... Instead, what Kerman seems to be after is a tidy narrative, not too messy or gritty for daytime talk shows but just difficult enough to be inspiring–prison [lit] ... You get the sense that if Kerman weren’t forced to go to jail, she would have seen those heroin-running years as a great cocktail party story ... Her portrayal of the prisoners perpetuates this notion of glamour. Kerman describes her fellow jail mates as saints who have been wrongly imprisoned because of unfairly stringent drug laws ... It is possible, of course, to write the middle-class-transgression memoir with somewhat more grit and honesty ... A bit of...moral ambiguity would have helped Kerman’s memoir a whole lot.