Title: Mandatory Release
Author: Jess Riley
Length: 310 pages
Rating: 4 Stars
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 look at friendship, forgiveness, and love. A 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. -Goodreads
While it is true that "Mandatory Release" deals with subject matter that is anything but funny; the dark humor found between it's covers is one of this books biggest pluses. It is the characters ability to create or find the humor in such stark situations that keeps this book out of the bleak drama trap that could have been it's fate.
Another great thing about this read has to be the characters. They are written the way that one would write a best friend or the neighbor down the street. Quirks and idiosyncrasies included. This level of realism in writing allows the reader to truly bond with said characters; the experience then becoming a visit with old friends.
O.K., old friends in jail!
Anyway, this book is also brimming with secrets, scandal, and betrayal.
You know...all the naughty bits that we readers drool for, but won't talk about in front of grandma.
There is this one really juicy secret on page.....
Ooops! Can't tell you.
Mandatory Release is a book about love, hate, coping and not, forgiving, failure, triumph, and HOPE!
This is a great read for all of you who like OZ and any other series from HBO!
Jess Riley’s experiences teaching in a prison inspired Mandatory Release. Her debut novel was Driving Sideways, a Target bestseller now in its fourth printing, published by Random House in 2008. She lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her husband.