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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Orange is the New Black

You know what would be cool? A time machine. Oh sure, we all want to go back and kill Hitler, but that’s not why I want one.  I just want to go back and post reviews of books years before a TV or movie adaptation makes them popular so I can go back to the present and show how prescient I was.

For instance: Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black has recently been turned into a hit TV series by Netflix. The TV show, created by Jenji Kohan (of Weeds fame), unsurprisingly ramps up the sex and drama to make it more exciting, but Kerman’s memoir is no less interesting and has tons of teen appeal, as our reviewer explains below.

We don’t usually post reviews here of book from previous years, but in this case we thought our readers might want to go back and make sure they have a copy of this great book.  So yeah, no time machine. You’ll just have to pretend that we posted this review back in early 2011.

KERMAN, Piper. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. Spiegal & Grau, 2011.

As a clueless Smith College graduate in the early 1990s, Piper Kerman became enamored of an older, sophisticated woman who took Kerman on vacations to thrilling international destinations. When her lover asked her to deliver a suitcase of drug money as a one-time favor, Kerman agreed. That escapade came to be but a chilling misstep in Kerman’s otherwise law-abiding life, as she moved on to build a promising career and fell in love with a good man. Ten years later, however, Kerman’s karma caught up with her: She was arrested on a drug conspiracy charge and sentenced to fifteen months at minimum security Danbury Federal Correctional Institute. Kerman’s memoir is rich with insight. She acknowledges that she is the oddity; the majority of incarcerated women are from uneducated, lower-class backgrounds. And yet, in vital ways, Kerman is exactly like the other inmates. Most of them are imprisoned for drug charges, very often as accomplices to boyfriends or family members. Together in prison, they share daily struggles for food, friendship, and forgiveness. While the popular Netflix series based on the book is spiced with lesbian sex and high drama, Kerman’s book is markedly introspective. This book will probably fly off the shelves with little prompting, but librarians can assure conservative readers that it is far less graphic than the television series. – Diane Colson, Nashville Public Library

About Mark Flowers

Mark Flowers is the Young Adult Librarian at the John F. Kennedy Library in Vallejo, CA. He reviews for a variety of library journals and blogs and recently contributed a chapter to The Complete Summer Reading Program Manual: From Planning to Evaluation (YALSA, 2012). Contact him via Twitter @droogmark