Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK by Piper Kerman

Piper Kerman may not be one of the best writers in the world, but her work here is good enough.  And the subject matter is an eye opener.  I don’t even mind that she’s capitalizing on a serious mistake of her youth to produce this revealing portrait of a minimum security women’s prison. I have not seen a single episode of the TV series based on this memoir, but I now have a pretty clear idea of why it’s popular.  If you think a women’s prison is all cat fights among lesbians, you would be dead wrong.  Quite the contrary.  Most of the women Piper meets on the inside would be living productive lives on the outside if they were given half a chance.  Unfortunately, they have neither Kerman’s resources nor her extensive, caring, and extremely loyal support from friends and family.  Kerman makes sure that her reader understands that prison is not a happy place, especially for those women serving a decade or more with little hope for a better life after their release.  Kerman’s sentence of 15 months is not what brings her to the realization of the impact of her crime of transporting drug money. Rather, she sees how illegal drugs have kept so many women in prison, often distanced from their children, and that these women are often repeat offenders.  Kerman’s keen observations make a strong case for the cessation of the war on drugs, because the U.S. government is spending billions of dollars on room and board for women who pose no threat to society.  What’s even more striking is how these women form makeshift families in prison and do all they can to help their fellow inmates adjust and cope.  Theirs is a mostly congenial sisterhood where everyone has to bury their rage at the system so as not to jeopardize their ultimate goal--freedom.

2 comments:

Catherine Aerie said...

Hi Patti,
May I hope that you can review my historical fiction? I published a Korean War novel The Dance of the Spirits on Amazon. The book won the 2014 eLit Awards sponsored by Jenkins Group. The book tells a story of a forbidden love in a forgotten war and received positive reviews from Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Reviews, Midwest Book Review, and a few reputable literature blogs.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/098969092X/?tag=bdsitelogin-20
ISBN 9780989690928
http://toddkinsey.com/blog/

Best wishes to you and yours
Catherine Aerie

PattisPages said...

Catherine, I'll be happy to, if you're not in a hurry.