I’m inspired by Piper Kerman who I stumbled on through Netflix. Netflix streaming, along with an occasional shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream, got me through a cold/flu so debilitating I feared the 1918 influenza had risen like a phoenix. So when Netflix announced the original series House of Cards I jumped on the Kevin Spacey marathon experience even though I wasn’t near death. It was so good, I eagerly awaited Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.
I was not disappointed. The adaptation of Kerman’s experience was so frighteningly engaging that I had to read the memoir on which the series is based. I bookstore hopped (which is far worse than bar hopping if you have a “book addiction!”) until I found it.
The memoir opens with Kerman, a Bostonian from a good family straight out of one of the “Seven Sisters,” delivering a suitcase of drug money for an older, drug smuggling lesbian who had taken Piper under her wing in more ways than one. Ten years later in 1998, Piper is a freelance producer living in New York with Larry, a magazine editor she met in San Francisco, when U.S. Customs officers appear at her door. She has been indicted in federal court on charges of drug smuggling and money laundering.
Being confined is absolutely terrifying as I discovered in college after I removed paper stuffed in my door jam at the Delta Gamma house and was locked in my room. I was set free from my panic inducing confinement the next morning, but Kerman’s nightmarish sentence is is fifteen months at the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut.
Tears, love, laughter, fear – it’s all here in Kerman’s transparent account. But what may make Orange so engaging is the universality of youthful bad decisions that eventually catch up with you. Hasn’t almost everyone done something in their teens or early twenties that, even if it doesn’t cross legal boundaries, they now view as a bad choice?
Kerman’s acknowledgment of her crime, embracing of the time, and recounting of events that are prime shows “saving sense.” Piper Kerman, you sure know how to twist transgressions into treasure!