Friday, May 29, 2015

Review Me Twice: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

For the first 1/6 or so of this book, I was really interested, totally on board, ready to hear more. For the next 4/6 (or 2/3 if you prefer), I was irritated with Piper for being... I'm not entirely sure what. She didn't seem to be connecting with her situation very well. Granted, she admits that she was very lucky to have high-end legal representation, and people on the outside with far more resources than the loved ones her fellow prisoners had outside, but it doesn't really seem to sink in for her. Until, of course, the last 1/6, where I felt like some kind of redemption happened. She really got it.

I think that maybe if this had been written during Piper's time in prison, instead of after it, the whole book would have a very different tone. She was lucky; she didn't experience any immense hardships or abuse during her year in prison.

Certainly, I learned things from this book. I would love it if more prisoners wrote similar memoirs about their time inside, to present a wide spectrum of experiences and viewpoints. I also appreciated the list of organizations and contacts at the end of the book that address different ways of helping prisoners and their families (my favorite is "Book 'Em," which is Pennsylvania-based and provides books to prisoners and prison libraries).

I wouldn't run around telling everyone I see to read this book, but it is quite good, and if someone asked me about it, I'd say that yes, they should read it.

For a book that's as famous as this one is, and that's been a bestseller for as long as this one has (seriously forever.  It's still sitting on the bestseller list.  I'd say it's been at least a year.) I was expecting a little more out of it.

It took me awhile to get into the book, and then it took even longer to figure out why she had written it.  Thank goodness it's not that long of a book.

However, I admit I grew very attached to the characters, to these women that she spent a year plus with, that she shared some of her most intimate experiances with.  You found yourself rooting for these women in a way you never really thought pssibly and seeing these "criminals" in a whole new light.  Have they done things wrong in their lives, sure, but about half of them would be better suited to a true rehabilitation program.  Or better yet, a program that helps them get jobs and housing and gives them ways to stay off the streets so they didn't have to sell drugs and land themselves there in the first place.

I will admit that the book sheds a harsh light on the growing problem of our prison system.  Kerman's prison had a litany of its own problems and, compared to what she had to deal with when she went to high security prisons in Oklahoma and Chicago, it really wasn't bad in comparisson.  The book showed how much money is wasted on prisons instead of maybe putting it toards our school.  That we incarcerating instead of teaching.

It was an enjoyable book, that I'm glad I read, mainly because I think it's a good idea to read the books that everyone has read, be they good or bad.  But it has been added to my "to be donated" pile.

No comments:

Post a Comment