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
2. How would you describe the prison culture—its hierarchy and values. What must Piper learn in order to adapt to, or even survive, prison life? Discuss about how Piper's relationships changed—both inside the prison walls and outside prison.
3. Do you have favorites among the inmates? Least favorites? Are there any inmates you come to admire? if so, why? Are there inmates who don't deserve to be in prison?
4. Talk about the relationship of the inmates with the guards and prison authorities.
5. In many ways, this is a coming-of-age story. What are the ways in which prison changes Piper? What does she come to learn about who she is?
6. Has reading Orange Is the New Black altered your views of the criminal justice system? Or does the memoir basically confirm what you believed?
7. Why is being sent to prison frequently referred to as "disappearing down the rabbit hole"?
8. Does our criminal justice system work? Does prison work? If you could, what would you change about the legal and/or the prison system?
9. Watch the Netflix film adaptation—either selected clips or in its entirety. How does it compare with the book?
10. Talk about homosexuality, both in Piper's life and as it exists in prison.
(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)