Audiobook review: Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman, narrated by Cassandra Campbell


In 1994, Piper Kerman, was a recent graduate of Smith College when she became romantically involved with a woman who was deep into a heroin smuggling scheme. Soon, out of a combination of infatuation and boredom, Piper agreed to help with the business. The ugly reality and danger of moving drugs, however, made her nervous, so she eventually broke free, moved across the country and started a new life.

Piper’s old life caught up with her, however, and in 1998 she was indicted for money laundering and drug trafficking. In 2004, after years of delays, due to other pending indictments and sentencings, Piper was ordered to report to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury where she would serve thirteen months.

Orange Is the New Black is Piper’s memoir about her experience in this minimum security prison. Her story was published in 2010 and was adapted for Netflix in the Emmy award-winning show of the same name. Season 7, its final season, is scheduled for release on July 26.

I listened to the audiobook version, which is narrated by Cassandra Campbell, who does an excellent job adapting her voice to many characters. I thought her voice sounded familiar and that’s because Campbell is an audiobook superstar. She’s narrated over 700 titles, has won four Audie Awards and is in Audible’s Narrator Hall of Fame.

Piper’s engaging story tells of a young a privileged white woman who learns to assimilate herself in a diverse population of women. While life at Danbury is far different from anything she has experienced, she approaches it with a positive attitude and develops strong friendships with her “bunkies” and other women in the prison. Of course, she has many regular visitors from the outside, including her journalist fiancé. And she receives a lot of mail and books and remote support from her family, including plenty of money to get what she needs at the commissary.

Many of the women at Danbury are in far worse shape, serving long sentences, separated from their children, and with few visitors. Piper’s empathy seems genuine, though and, despite the differences, the women find ways to connect and support each other.

I enjoyed listening to this memoir. I’m late to the party in learning about the book and the show, but I’m glad I finally got to it.

Today, Piper Kerman is an outspoken advocate for women in prison. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her family and teaches writing in two state prisons as an Affiliate Instructor with Otterbein University.

Have you read or listened to Orange Is the New Black? Have you watched the show? I plan to watch eventually!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

22 thoughts on “Audiobook review: Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

    1. Hi Robbie – thanks for reading and commenting. I never watched or read Helter Skelter. I’d say this would be a tamer version, though. I’ll probably watch the show, eventually, but it’s hard to get to everything right away!

  1. I am a big fan of the TV series — I haven’t read or listened to the book, which from your description sounds powerful but a great deal less X-rated than the TV version. Most of the time the sex scenes serve the story, but at point in the second season they got pretty raw and out there, to the point where they were a bit off-putting for me (and I’m no prude). They’ve reined that back in in the last season, though, and the characters are unforgettable.

    1. Hi Jan, I think the Netflix show is a lot racier than the book. I would say that Piper’s efforts to cope are the main theme of her memoir. Thanks for the show review!

    1. Hi Norah, there was a lot of hype when the show first came out – I’m not sure I even knew it was a book, but I’m glad I found it! Thanks for the visit 🙂

  2. I’ve never seen the show, but I’ve been meaning to give the book a try. So glad to see your review. Sounds like audio might be the way to go.

    1. I may watch the show…eventually. I have two other shows in my queue – Ozark and You. But I’m currently working my way through The Office – so many shows!

      1. I’m not ready for a new one – but I now have the oldest technology in the house. The new laptops are so nice, and much smaller. Mine is big and heavy – that’s what I wanted at the time, but not after traveling with it – yikes!

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! I’m not sure if I ever responded to this comment – I’ll eventually watch the series – too busy watching The Office at the moment! 🙂

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