I read Orange is the New Black because of the hype surrounding the Netflx show (which I haven't watched yet). Now that I've finished the book, I have to say it's an interesting look at life behind bars but not exactly compelling reading. I believe the fault in the book lies in the fact that it takes place in a minimum security prison, and the author is doing only fifteen months' time. Not that that makes it necessarily easier, but there's no hardcore drama because most of the women incarcerated just want to put in their time and get out. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Piper Kerman writes the story of how she came to be a criminal with a clear voice, and it's obvious she's not like many of the women with whom she does time. After a misspent youth that led her to do a drug drop, Piper thinks she can move on, until she finds herself indicted on the charge five years later. Luckily for her, pleading guilty greatly reduces her jail time and her family, and most especially her boyfriend, are very supportive of her. Once she is sentenced to Danbury, it takes her a bit to get used to all the customs and regulations she must endure, but she seems able to make friends and learn how to get along. I have no idea if she did, in fact, have many friendships with women of all races and religions, and it doesn't really matter because this is her story to tell in whatever way she wants. I did find it interesting how the women were able to move about freely within the building and on the grounds, and how they made do with contraband just to enjoy a few moments and treats.
I think my biggest issue with the book is that, really, not much happened during the time Piper spent in jail. Sure, there were a few situations and there were some tear-jerking relationships made, but really, the book is mostly about the day-to-day mundaneness of being in prison. While I appreciated the stories, they never had me on the edge of my seat, dying to know how it all turned out. While the book is interesting, it's just not a page turner, and no one should go into it expecting it to be like the series.