Orange is the New Black: Book Club Week 3

Book Club: Orange is the New Black – Week 3

Hosted by The Book Wheel and Love at First Book

Orange is the New Black

Welcome to Week 3: Today – Nov 23

Read and discuss Ch 10-14

Soooooooo. . . what do you think so far???  We’re almost done, 3/4 of the way in!

If you’re here, you have read the third part, or are currently reading it!

Please go ahead and start (or continue) the conversation!  Remember to come back to continue to respond to others who comment throughout the week (and month)!  Write as much or as little as you please, and don’t forget to link your own blog if you have one!

Only post about Chapters 1-14, please!  Spoilers totally allowed for those chapters, but no spoilers for the remainder of the book, please!  Save those for the later posts.

Haven’t finished this week’s reading yet?  Come back when you’re done and join in the conversation!

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca and Allison


15 thoughts on “Orange is the New Black: Book Club Week 3

  1. Maybe I could survive prison after all. I can come up with dishes based on random ingredients, write convincing letters on behalf of others, and give foot massages. Piece of cake (or prison made cheesecake).

    I am finding it interesting how the show takes tiny tidbits from the memoir and blows them up into stories- like the guard having an affair with the inmate. On the show it’s such a huge plot device, but here just mentioned in passing.

    This book has also made me realize how dependent I am on simple luxuries (like nail polish, pajamas, slippers, etc…). The idea of having to take a shower without my particular soaps, hot water, and soft washcloths is not appealing. Frankly, I don’t feel guilty- I’ve earned my middle-class materialism, tacky as it may be.

    Piper has grown on me slightly. She’s trying to make the best of her time there, now working construction, maintaining her levels of fitness, and bonding with other women. I am still definitely not sympathetic towards her cause, though, especially now that I know that she has a cushy job waiting for her when she returns to life on the outside. She doesn’t have to worry about what life will be like when she’s released, which is nice for her, but does in a way invalidate her experience in my book. Part of going to prison is the fact that you’ll have to rebuild your life when you leave, learning from your consequences. While I’m sure Piper will have learned a great deal, the fact that she has so much security is a little… disappointing.


    • Since I watched the show first, I’m really interested in the way that the show and book connect. Like Christine said, it’s interesting the way the show amplifies some of the small moments of the book. I like that though, since it helps the show be less focused on Piper and more focused on a more “typical” stay in prison (since the fact that she has a life to go back to does make her experience very different).


      • I do think that her cushy life makes it different, but it does seem like Piper is almost using this time as a social experiment for herself, like can she fit in? Can she make friends? Is she able to relate to these people and to love them? I think she’s successful in that.


    • I think it’s just a different take on jail/prison life. Normally we think of the “serial convict” someone who is in and out, in and out of prison all their life. Piper is just giving us her version: a middle/upper class woman who is now in jail with people she (at first) had no idea how to relate to.

      I’m not saying that you should feel more or less sympathy towards her, just that it might help to think “okay, this is Piper’s story, but it’s the minority.”


    • I agree with that last statement. She’s not at all indicative of a normal prisoner and so while her experience certainly needs to be shared, it’s not the norm. As for surviving in prison, I don’t know if I could or not BUT I kind of want to make the prison cheesecake just so that I can try it. Maybe I’ll join that book and a dish meme for a week and do it 🙂


  2. Wow, I REALLY was affected by something Piper said. Here it is:

    “What made me finally recognize the indifferent cruelty of my own past wasn’t the constraints put on me by the U.S government, nor the debt I had amassed for legal fees, nor the fact that I could not be with the man I loved. It was sitting and talking and working with and knowing the people who suffered because of what people like me had done. . . for the first time I really understood how my choices made me complicit in their suffering. I was the accomplice to their addiction.” – p. 180

    This struck me hard. I really felt like I “got” Piper and that this was maybe the first time in the book that she seemed actually sorry for what she had done. Of course she took the consequences for her actions but she didn’t seem to be upset by the drug smuggling; it was almost a casualty of her life years ago. This was the first time she seemed to really get that what she did was wrong, and not just because it was against the law, but because it hurt people.

    I was pissed about the GED program at the jail. UGH! I hope that’s not representative of how most jails are. And the fact that the inmates really aren’t learning anything productive? That’s tough. I don’t have a better answer, but I do believe that locking up drug addicts/criminals without rehabilitation doesn’t solve the problem, as most of them will be back out in the streets, then some of them back in jail.


  3. I’ve noticed people commenting both on how empathetic Piper is towards the other inmates and how condescending she is about them, so I was paying attention to see what I thought in this section. Honestly, I think a lot of what she says could be taken either way. She does occasionally throw in stereotypes about particular groups of people, which bothers me a little. I’m also a little unhappy about how preachy she is about the justice system. I agree with a lot of what she says, but unless she got out of jail and went on to do something about it, I’ll feel like it was all talk, maybe even just sour grapes about having to spend time in jail herself.

    Like Christine, this book makes me think a lot about all of the little luxuries I take for granted. As Rebecca pointed out, it does seem as though Piper might think about this as interesting social experiment and even if she doesn’t, I sure do! It’s so interesting to learn about people from different parts of society and I love that non-fiction makes that possible 🙂


    • Katie,

      That’s interesting. I actually noticed as I was checking out the sections that we’d be reading each week that there’s a chunk in the back that’s basically like info if you want to help, so I wonder if Piper went on to actually make some changes. . . Maybe the things she does/says could be viewed only positively (or way more positively) if we found out at the end that she tried hard (or still tries) to make changes to the justice system or jail system at all.


    • Interesting! That’s not something I thought about before you mentioned it (at least not actively), but I agree. Unless she went on to do something about it, she’s just being preachy. I wonder if part of that is because of her upbringing, but I don’t want to be stereotypical 🙂


  4. I’m still loving this book! Like Rebecca, I was so mad about the GED program but I also teared up a bit at the part where she attended the graduation. Of course, I was equally horrified that she wrote the paper for that woman, but I guess cheating is all relative when you’re in jail.

    So far, her experience in jail has seemed pretty too-good-to-be-true in terms of expectations, but it seemed to get a bit more “real” this section. The best example I can think of is that jerk of a work supervisor that she had before she switched to construction. She also got a bit funnier, which I think is because we’re at the part of the book where she’s kind of slipped into her groove and found her place.


    • Yeah I totally ignored the whole cheating thing. As a former teacher I am not commenting on that one!

      And yeah, maybe you’re right, like she’s a better writer now that she’s more into her writing groove. I just said “write/right” 3 times in that sentence.


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