This story, off of which the netflix series of the same name is based, is the autobiography of Kerman’s year-long(ish) stay in a minimum-security prison for a ten-year-old drug charge. After graduating Kerman had, well, explored her wild side, you could say, by dating a girl who lived the high-flying lifestyle of a drug distributor. After being roped in to launder money, Kerman cut her ties with that crowd, broke up with her girlfriend, moved to the west coast and fell in love with a nice guy, and began a normal life. A path which would have continued until she was named by her old associates a decade later and sent to prison.
I never knew that I wanted to know what it would be like in prison, but I certainly did. It was fascinating to see what a different world it is. Her experience is a decade old by now, but it still feels fresh. You can feel Kerman’s fear and apprehension. While a minimum security prison can give you many ‘freedoms’, it still clamps down on so many others.
Kerman details her day-to-day existence in prison. She introduces a myriad of characters that are hard to keep track of, though they all feel vibrant and real. Which, you have to remind yourself, is because they are real. Each chapter roves around various happenings and subjects, kind of like a stream of consciousness which flows and develops.
Above all this book made me feel claustrophobic and frustrated. Like I needed to vent out my feelings, as if I were the one being repressed. Few services are well-provided in prison, surprise, surprise. It can be hard to keep sane there, and from Kerman’s experience I get that you need sense of purpose, a routine, and as much control over your life as possible in order to survive there. Advice I will hopefully never need!
A few weeks after reading this I watched the Netflix series. I was impressed with where they took the story, and how some of the characters came to life. If you enjoy this book, you’ll likely enjoy the show as well (and vice versa).