Title: Mandatory Release
Author: Jess Riley
Release date: July 16, 2013
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Dude Lit / Edgy Women’s Fiction
Tour organized by: AToMR Tours
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.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love surprises? Grab this book, you guys. It deserves a chance!
The song above is from the Mandatory Release Playlist, and I have to agree with you, Jess - this is so Graham!!
What made me join the Tour, and give this book a shot (although it's something that could have easily slipped by me) are those two words - Dude Lit. Honestly, how could I resist it? I'm happy to say it is everything I was hoping to find, and it even managed to exceed my expectations. Not an easy job, that's for sure...
Mandatory Release is written in dual POV - Graham's first person, and Drew's third person. And, though it can be tricky, and is not always done right, Jess Riley showed exactly how it's suppose to be done. Not to mention the fact that Graham's voice is just perfect. It's everything I could ask for when it comes to male POV. It's strong, real and captivating.
The story has an unusual setting, but although it ties the characters to a highly specific place and time, it also brings a feel to it that's just... universally human. You can relate to characters, understand them perfectly, and even feel exactly the same, without ever being in a situation that's even close to the one they find themselves in.
Mandatory Release is a dark story, but its humor and all the elements combined, make it a unique mix that is much more than just dark... or just emotional for that matter. There is a lot of melancholy, broken people struggling to make sense of their lives and move on, make the best out of the circumstances they found themselves in, and - most of all - learn through it all.
I enjoyed Graham's humor, seeing the way he deals with his paralysis, and even occasional bitter moments -that are more than expected in the situation... Still, all the wit of the story aside, there are times when it's just painfully honest. But, what grabbed me more than anything else is the way it turns from dark to funny in a blink. You can't help but laugh. And, you can't help but wonder...
All in all, Mandatory Release was an amazing, unexpected read. I highly recommend it, if you are in the mood for something that might not be your usual cup of tea. It's definitely worth a try!
Copy kindly provided by the Author in exchange for an honest review
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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