With appeal for fans of Jonathan Tropper, Tom Perrotta, and Laurie Notaro, this snarky mashup of Girls and Oz is so painfully honest you might think you’re reading a memoir—except the author isn’t a smart-ass guy in a wheelchair who works in a prison.
Recently paralyzed in a car accident, thirty-year-old Graham Finch spends his days trying to rehabilitate a caseload of unruly inmates and his nights on one bad date after another, attempting to rehabilitate his heart—until his high school crush Drew Daniels walks through the prison gates one hot summer morning. On the run from a painful past that’s nearly crushed her faith in love, Drew is a new teacher at Lakeside Correctional. Graham, smitten all over again, tries to redirect his unrequited feelings. But when your heart keeps looking back, it’s not easy to turn it forward.
Amidst escalating violence at work, Drew is forced to confront her secrets, find a way to forgive old sins, and learn how to listen to her heart and her head when it comes to men. Graham must also learn to make peace with his own past. Together they realize that if you’re going to save yourself, sometimes the best way to do it is by saving someone else first. If only finding their way to one another was easier than working with convicted felons.
Loaded with twisted humor and pathos, Mandatory Release is a darkly comic, unexpectedly sexy love story about broken people putting themselves back together. People who learn that no matter what you lock up—a person, a secret, or your heart—sooner or later, everything must be released.
OR, in 25 words: Lad lit meets chick lit in this dark comedy about broken people who work in a dangerous place, finding hope where they least expect it.
This was the first book I’ve read by Jess Riley and I fell in LOVE with this novel. She has just gained a faithful fan! I don’t know how to adequately describe my feelings after reading this book but I will try my best…
Graham and Drew were friends in high school. Back then, Graham had it bad for Drew but she was always unavailable. With Drew’s return and her new job in such close proximity to Graham’s his old feelings resurface. Can Drew look past the man in the wheelchair, and remember the man before the injury? The one who makes her laugh, the one she feels utterly and completely comfortable with, the one she can talk to, could he be more than a friend?
This book is filled with witty and playful banter, comical inner monologues and general humor. Drew and Graham have some hilarious moments but it never distracts the reader from the intensity of the novel. The book touches on some pretty heavy topics but the focus remains primarily on how these two broken people help each other find their way back to happiness and open their hearts to the possibility of more…
A topic not usually associated with a novel of this caliber. (Romance/Contemporary Romance) I felt that the author delivered exceptionally well given the topic. Her accurate descriptions/experiences bring you into a world that makes you question everything you’ve ever thought or experienced. How easily could you end up on the opposite side of the law? To what extent would you feel compassion towards inmates like those described in this book? Were your initial views skewed? What constitutes a criminal? I have my own views on this topic but I found myself pondering some of these questions. When an author can make me think that much while still enjoying a novel, I’d say mission accomplished!
There were times when I felt I had time warped to my early existence, with cleverly crafted reminders of the 80s and 90s…like Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers, Punky Brewster and honorable mention of bands/artists that didn’t suck! I highly recommend this book for everyone. It touches upon some heavy issues while bringing you back to earth reminding you of simple things we take for granted. This is an edgy, heartfelt romance. I highly recommend…will be added to my must read list!
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*This book was an ARC provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and comments are my own.*
About the Author
Jess Riley’s experiences teaching in a medium-security prison inspired the novel Mandatory Release. Her debut novel (Driving Sideways, now in its fourth printing) was published by Random House in 2008. She lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her husband and nutty Cairn Terrier in a 130-year-old money pit farmhouse. When she’s not writing novels, she’s a Grant Writer for school districts nationwide.
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