A rarity for me: this is actually one television show that I’ve kept up with and am caught up on. Another rarity for me: I decided to go back and read/listen to this book after seeing its adaptation first. I’m not sure if that decision made a difference in my opinion of the book or not, to be honest.
This book is very…interesting. It does indeed capture a year inside of a women’s prison, as the subtitle indicates. I was expecting a gritty and raw detail of prison life – and there are some of those details, sure – but I also found stories of a privileged life before prison and the privileged life that would be waiting for Piper after prison. I have to be completely honest and say that it got a little redundant hearing Piper talk about how great her life was versus the other prisoners. (Example: She talked about how she was well-read, about how she had a job waiting for her when she was released, about how she had so many visitors on visiting days and some others didn’t, etc.) Also, I was surprised at the length of time it actually took for Piper to actually go to prison. For example, if I understood correctly, there was a six-year period of time between the date Piper pled guilty in court and the date she returned to court to find out when she would actually go to prison. SIX YEARS. During those six years, my understanding is that Piper lived in New York, working as a creative director for web companies, visiting awesome places in NY, vacationing and such. Living it up because she would be spending time behind bars. Okay. Okay. Perhaps little details like this ruined the actual PRISON part of the book for me? I don’t know. But it was interesting.
What I wanted was the down and dirty of the prison experience. I eventually got (some of) it, but when I did, I found that some of the Piper’s true life isn’t how it is on the Netflix show. Am I disappointed by this? Well, if I tell you that I AM, you may want to know WHY but I don’t want to spoil anything HERE. (SPOILERS AND ALL OF THAT.) Happy to discuss elsewhere, though!
The book is interesting, but be warned: just like with much of the book-to-movie/TV, it is very different. Maybe you should skip it if you don’t like that type of thing. Or read it first, which is even better actually. I’m glad that I read it but I’m also glad I borrowed from the library and likely won’t reread. I’ll stick with the show.
Two other instances
in which the screen adaptation is better than the book,
in my opinion:
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Okay WOW, that book. After I finished this one, I felt shocked at how many people loved it! I did NOT love it. Unlikable characters do not normally bother me, but I found everyone in this book unlikable except for Ethan, who is actually not the main character of this installment in the Darcy and Rachel series.
The movie adaption, though, was much easier to tolerate! I think I liked it so much because 1) they left out so much of the book that I didn’t have as much of a chance to dislike everyone so strongly and 2) OH MY GOSH the cast is FANTASTIC. Seriously, how can you dislike Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson? And John Krasinski? GET SERIOUS. He’s one of America’s Sweethearts! (He plays Ethan, the one that I said was the only likable character in the book.) I found myself scouring the internet hoping, wishing, praying that there would be an adaptation to the sequel, Something Blue (which was also not a book that I loved but I would watch it). Never found one!
I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson
This book is one that I’ve read multiple times and in reality, it makes me feel differently every time I read it. The first time I read it, I liked it (liked, not loved) but the last time I tried to read it, I was disgusted and barely finished. I know I’ll read it again, though, because I can identify so strongly with some parts (NOT ALL) of main character Kate Reddy.
Anyway, with the movie, this is another case of great casting. I love Greg Kinnear and Sarah Jessica Parker in the roles of these super busy parents that are in a bit of a parenting/marriage drought. Also again, the movie gave me a visual of Kate Reddy’s life, and I found myself sympathizing a little more – especially because not all of the book scenes are included.
These stories feature characters that I could consider highly unlikable but I find it easier to identify with them on screen because the visual seems to evoke stronger reactions in me – in each instance! I want to pay attention to my reactions in the future when I watch book-to-movie/TV adaptations to see if I relate more to a visual interpretation vs. a character as he/she is presented in a book.
When have you enjoyed a movie/TV show more than a book?