Our story begins in 2013, with our author/narrator in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the home in which she grew up. She is looking back on the events that shaped much of her adult life.

We are then transported back to February 1993, in Paris, as the crazy world of drug smuggling unfolds. We see the intricacies, the complexities, the minutiae of each aspect of the plans, including how many others are involved. Like a unique kind of staging event, the couriers have their own part, and it all happens in tandem.

It started for Cleary in Africa, where she met her sister Hester’s fiancé…he was the head of the organization. He called the shots, and a certain amount of fear was involved.

Back and forth we go, following each series of assignments, and Piper Kerman (Orange is the New Black) comes into the story when Cleary and associates are back in Massachusetts after one of the trips.

The events transpire over a rather brief period of time. And then it all ends. Cleary is out, and beginning a new life in Vermont, where she is renovating a carriage house. She has a new business with computers and technology. It is 1996. She feels she can breathe again.

Then the proverbial chickens come home to roost, and on an ordinary day, as she is at the bank, a fleet of SUVs block her in, the marshals surround her, and she is arrested.

Her new journey in the prison system begins.

Out of Orange was suspenseful from the very first pages, and even knowing how it would all turn out, it was fascinating to see how many ways in which everything could go wrong. I felt compassion for those in the “game,” as most were there for seemingly legitimate reasons….the need of money, helping a friend, or protecting someone. But it seemed inevitable that everything would go wrong at some point, as none of the plans seemed well orchestrated. Too many human errors could bring the whole house of cards down at any point.

My heart went out to each person trapped in the world of her own making, and even familiar with the show that sprang from Piper’s book, I was touched once again by the unfairness of a system that imposes “mandatory minimum” sentences that are equal in severity to those of hardened and violent criminals. This author’s writing was riveting and kept me turning pages, even as I suspected how everything would finally play out. A 5 star read for me.