This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Orange Is The New Black" by Piper Kerman. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.
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What happens in the Orange Is the New Black book ending? Does Piper leave prison?
The Orange Is the New Black book ending details Piper’s process of leaving prison and the lessons she learned along the way.
Find out what happens in the Orange Is the New Black book ending.
Orange Is the New Black Book Ending: Pre-Release
One day, Piper was taken out of MCC Chicago to the federal court building in the city. There, she met with her lawyer, who explained to her how her participation in Bibby’s trial would unfold. He also told her that it was unlikely she would ever be returned to Danbury, as the process of transferring her back would simply take too long and she would hit her release date by then.
Larry at last came to visit her in Chicago. She was careful to keep her visit secret from the other women at MCC Chicago—for many of these women, a man coming to visit all the way from New York was a big deal. The last thing Piper wanted was to arouse the jealousy of the other women, either over Larry’s visit or her imminent release. She was surrounded by people who had little left to lose in life. In such circumstances, arousing jealousy could be a very dangerous thing. Piper clung to every moment of Larry’s visit, even backing out of the room as she was leaving to be able to look at him as long as possible. She knew she would soon be with him for good, but it still felt an eternity away. For Piper the Orange is the New Black book ending moved incredibly slowly.
The weeks continued to pass at MCC Chicago in the winter of 2005. One day, Piper and the Jansen sisters were getting some recreation time on the roof of the prison. Their position on the roof afforded them a view of the entire city. Nora pointed out a notable building to Piper. It was the Congress Hotel, where Piper had, a lifetime ago, carried a suitcase of drug money for Nora. Piper had stayed in a luxury suite then. She never thought she would be seeing it again under these circumstances.
At last, the day came for Piper to testify against Bibby. She and the other witnesses were furious with Bibby for not taking a plea deal as the rest of the co-conspirators had and, thus, forcing them to disrupt their lives (albeit prison lives) to testify at his trial for what seemed like an inevitable “guilty” verdict anyway. The whole thing was incredibly wasteful and selfish as far as Piper and the other witnesses, including Nora, were concerned.
At the trial, Piper spent hours on the stand recounting the scant details she remembered about Bibby and his involvement with the drug ring. But the questions the prosecutor asked her were routine and ordinary. It was clear that Piper was not the star witness—Nora was. As everyone expected, Bibby was found guilty after a very short deliberation by the jury. The trial was over and, in theory, there was no reason why Piper couldn’t return to Danbury. But her attorney’s prediction was correct: Piper wouldn’t be leaving Chicago. She would not see her old friends in Danbury, especially as her March 4 release date loomed closer and closer.
She had spent over a year clinging to this date. But as it got closer and closer and she spent her final stretch in disorganized, dysfunctional Chicago, she got paranoid. When she inquired about what preparations were being made for her impending release, the staff at MCC Chicago had no answers. They didn’t even seem to be aware that she was getting out at all.
Her fear began to mount. What if the BOP had messed up her paperwork? What if whoever was in charge of processing her release never passed that information along to Chicago? Would she just rot in her cell long past the date when she was supposed to be free? In a madhouse like MCC Chicago, screened by the opaque and inept bureaucracy of the BOP, it was easy for Piper’s mind to wander to frightening places.
Reflection and Release in the Orange Is the New Black Book Ending
Shortly after the Bibby trial, the Jansen sisters were boarded onto a BOP plane and sent off to a new federal facility. Piper would not be joining them this time. They exchanged a quick farewell with Piper, although they did not understand why Piper was not coming on the plane with them. Although there was no love lost between Piper and Nora after everything that had happened between them, it was a bittersweet moment. Piper was wistful at seeing her go—she knew she would probably never see her again.
With her release just around the corner, Piper took the time to reflect and take stock of her experience and the wild journey she’d been on during the Orange is the New Black book ending. She’d been brought face-to-face with people from backgrounds so different than her own, people with whom she never would have thought she’d have anything in common. Now, she saw how wrong she was. The community of women in prison had saved her. Isolated from everyone and everything she’d loved before, these women—Pop, Yoga Janet, Jae, Pennsatucky, Pom-Pom, Nina, Rosemarie—had made her feel less alone in the world. Their struggle and success in preserving their humanity in the face of a system that sought to crush it was nothing short of heroic. They taught her compassion she never thought herself capable of and revealed strengths she never knew she had.
At last, the day came. On March 4, Piper received her final call to “pack out” (she was released two months early for good behavior, serving 13 months of her 15-month sentence). She had no street clothes to wear after she handed in her prison uniform, so she was given some ill-fitting male clothes. The BOP also gave her $28.30 in cash, what they termed (bizarrely) as a “gratuity.” The COs took her down the service elevator of MCC Chicago. And just like that, she was on the streets in Chicago in broad daylight, a free woman once more.
Larry was waiting outside to meet her. She sprinted over to him as fast as she could. Piper’s long ordeal was over at last—but she would be forever shaped by her experience and the incredible women with whom she’d shared it. The Orange is the New Black book ending shows the reflection that would eventually lead Piper to write her memoir.
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- The real, more nuanced story behind the hit TV show
- How upper-class Piper Kerman landed in prison on drug charges
- The key lessons Kerman learned about society and herself