It’s 1992 and Piper Kerman, a recent graduate of Smith College, is looking a life of excitement. She becomes romantically involved with a drug smuggler named Nora, and travels the world first class loving the jet-setting adventures. She’s not involved in the drug trade until a year later when Nora tells her to carry a suitcase of drug money to Belgium. Soon after things being to go south and Piper is tired of the anxiety that this life produces, so she leaves Nora and moves to San Francisco. She meets a man named Larry and falls in love.
Time passes and she adjusts to a different kind of life working at a good job, living with Larry, hanging with good friends. Unexpectedly, five years after her visit to Belgium two U.S. Customs officers show up at her door with a federal indictment charging her with money laundering. It will be another five years before the trial and her sentence. She is imprisoned in 2004, her crime 10 years old.
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison is an account of Kerman’s life and the lives of other women in the U.S. Federal prison camp in Danbury, Connecticut. I thought the book would be about the horrors of prison life, and instead I found it to be very uplifting. This is a book about friendship, life, the many faces of love and the vast injustice of the U.S. prison and legal systems. The majority of women in prison are there due to non-violent drug related charges, and prison does nothing to help offenders from re-offending. Kerman writes with wit, humor and most of all with a unrelenting compassion. I highly recommend this memoir, I couldn’t put it down.