Monday, December 1, 2014

Orange Is The New Black Audiobook Review

A few weeks ago, I called out help to you, my fellow book nerds, to help me out choosing my first audiobook. I know, it's a little ridiculous that I, a book blogger and someone who recently drove to Florida and back on my own, have never listened to an audiobook. It wasn't for lack of trying though.

I tried to listen to one while training for the half marathon I ran in April, but I found I was too distracted and focused on running to be able to concentrate on a book. This is what I feared would happen with this one — I would zone out and have to rewind and ultimately never make it through.

On my library's website, they added new audiobooks up for borrow, and I saw Orange is the New Black, a show that I love and have been meaning to read the book for a long time. That was the tipping point.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Release Date: April 6, 2010 (audio June 11, 2012)
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Pages: 298
Keywords: prison, drugs, drama
Format Read: audiobook
Goodreads | Book Depository
With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.
Admittedly, I was shocked to find that I was enthralled listening to this book. I mean, I expected to like the book in general, but it was so easy to fall into the story while listening on my commute. I drive about 35 minutes to work, so there and back allowed me to finish the book in exactly 2 weeks. And I found myself sitting in my car once I got to work to listen as long as I possibly could.

Kerman uses an excellent voice (the writing, not the narration), and her style is very conversational, so it was easy to immerse myself into the novel, rather than feel distanced from it. It was so easy for me to visualize what was happening too because I felt like I related to her very well. White, middle class, graduated from college, and in general pretty privileged. Then suddenly all her mistakes she made when she was younger catch up to her.

The book was enlightening in a way that made me truly think about the people we have in federal prison, especially women's prisons, almost 90% of them being drug-related charges. Some are in there for 20-30 years. I don't know about you, but I'd rather reserve space and funding in prisons to hold actual dangerous people like, you know, murderers, rather than people almost forced into the drug business because they were unable to get jobs elsewhere.

Kerman's narrative was thoughtful, explorative, and had excellent pacing — it spanned her 13 months inside Danbury prison. The passages flowed smoothly, and I never felt like there was a jump that shouldn't be there. The downside to this experience, though, is now I want to see what reading the book is like because I liked the audio so much. Yet another book on my TBR shelf. It's never-ending.

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