Date Completed: 3/19/16
I have to preface this by saying I watch the show. So when my roommate had to read this book for her class, I thought it would be a great idea to check out the audio book from the library and listen to it together on our road trip.
I didn’t like how whiny Piper seemed to be. I think the story itself is good, the characters are good, but there’s so much more out there in terms of prison literature/memoirs about people of color who do not come from a middle class background who have much more difficult experiences of prison than our dear Piper does. I believe this is why when I watch the show, I’m infinitely more interested in the side characters than I am in Piper.
The ending just fizzled out with her leaving prison. I liked all the drama that happens in the show that’s not present in the book. I find that I can’t force myself to think about the book as a different story, perhaps because the show is so lengthy and there’s so much more character development, including from Piper and Larry. I know you can’t do much about the character development in a memoir, but this seemed a little bland to me.
Now, certainly if you’ve not read or seen any personal accounts of prison sentences before, picking up this book is a good place to start. I would also recommend That Bird Has My Wings, Assata, Living My Life, or some other books about the prison system, preferably written by someone of color not from a middle class background. The white middle class perspective is important, but we hear a lot about that, so let’s try branching out. I’ve not yet read Assata, although my roommate has put it on my reading list, as she finished it declaring ‘this is excellent!’, and I would still like to read Living My Life. I can tell you that That Bird Has My Wings was an excellent read, worthy of many tears and much hope. If you have other prison lit suggestions, please leave them below in the comments!
Piper Kerman does a lot of really cool things, so you should just read her bio here if you want to learn more about her.