Monday, January 25, 2016

Book #132: Orange is the New Jungle

After a semester hiatus from reading every book assigned to me by my students, I opened my heart and my mind (and my time, my precious precious time) to new books.

A few students bring me books, and I start this one then that one but the one I can't put down is the one I didn't expect to love.

Here's how it came to be.

The student asks me (respectfully) if I had heard of Netflix and I forgive her for being so naive and  say YES and she asks if I heard of Orange is the New Black and I half shout I LOVE WHEN THE VAN CRASHES INTO .....  and the student sees that she and I share a great deal of common ground in loving the same story, so lets her fearful respectful face down and hands me the memoir that started the Netflix series.

I didn't think I'd love it. Ten pages in, I'm thinking it was too much like the series, and I'm feeling downright guilty for sitting on a sofa reading instead of going out and running.

  Fifty pages in, I'm thinking the sofa is a great place to be,  I can run later, and I would pick  Piper Kerman, the author, for a friend.

Two hundred pages in and I would vote for Piper for most major offices, and I'm praying she buys the house next door one day. Yes, she did a few bad things, but yes, she found her talents and gave boldly of herself in this book.

If you've watched the series, you'll love the book.

If you haven't watched the series, you'll still love the book.

(And seriously, if you haven't watched the series, c'mon, just watch it. Please. Just. Watch. It. There are three seasons and they will break your heart and make you laugh crying).

Piper Kerman has a wry forwardness that is two parts awesome, one part sexy and one part muckraker.

  I can imagine (hope?) US  history classes fifty years from now assigning this book and (hopefully) discussing the pivot away from incarceration being an answer or solution for anything.  I hope my grandchildren look back at this book like we look back at The Jungle  (a super gross-out expose of the meatpacking industry -- if you haven't read it, you should probably read it on an empty stomach) and say "wow, thank goodness this country found a way to do things better than that because THAT wasn't working...."

 I have no doubt I will fight this student over the book, and try hard to keep it so that I can share it with more people. If I lose that fight I will go out and buy a copy for myself so I can re-read it and lend it to someone who is in need of that exact story.