Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (2011)

I’ve heard this is a better than average series on Netflix—perhaps the acting gives it the punch that the book lacked.orange_custom-s6-c30  Like so many memoirs, the story trumped the writing.  Actually the story wasn’t even that great: interesting but not great.  And the writing was mediocre at best.  I kept thinking that it had the power to be a compelling story, but I never felt pulled in by the characters or the events, I never got lost in the story. It felt more like a  this happened then this happened then this happened story—the kind that compels me to skim rather than slow down and savor.

 

Quick summary: post college (Smith) girl looking for adventure ends up assisting in a drug smuggling ring by following her much older lesbian lover across the world.  Ten years later she gets caught and is sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.  She says “I love you” to her boyfriend—turns out the lesbian thing was a passing fancy–about 50 times (complete with explanation marks on nearly every one) and heads into her new life. From there we get the details about her daily routine. Probably most interesting are some of the other women in prison that she befriends.  Their personalities seem to jump off the page in small bursts—though it’s easy to confuse them because she gives just enough detail to get to know someone and then she’s off to someone or somewhere else, often not returning to that person until chapters later—and even then—she refers to them only by name, and we forget who they are without some of the personality details.

 

Piper simply isn’t a very likeable person.  She seems to try to hard to come off as everyone’s friend, like the homecoming queen who appears to be genuine, but you never know…I sort of got the feeling the other women made fun of her behind her back, and had a good laugh about her after she was released. Like I said, perhaps the Netflix series is a lot better.  (memoir)

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