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.
Author’s Quote Picks from Mandatory Release
How could she not know his personal goal in life is to give more rides on the baloney pony than a petting zoo sponsored by Oscar Mayer?
People tell me they love this line; this and Graham’s thoughts on the music his parents listened to when he was a kid.
I too could learn from the self-help lessons I deliver three days a month. Unfortunately, like the advice-giver stuck in a bad relationship or the insecure bully taunting the easy mark, it’s much easier to dish it out than it is to actually take it.
Graham’s a caustic character, so he needed to temper some of that by being incredibly self-aware of exactly when he was being a jerk and why. I love his little moments of insight.
“So tell me more about Cute Wheelchair Guy. I bet he’s really good at—”
“Don’t even go there!” Drew’s cheeks flared with heat.
“Canoeing, I was going to say.”
There are a few running gags through the book that are inspired by the crap people in chairs have to deal with: the first being that so many random people tell Graham he should play wheelchair rugby, and the second being that everybody wonders how he has sex and if he’s “found ways to compensate.”
Do you settle? Find the courage to be content somewhere within yourself and cruise into the sunset years with an amiable companion? It’s more than most people get. Or do you risk a known, comfortable thing for just the barest chance at what could be the most honest, passionate, wanted love of your life?
I wonder if most of us haven’t had this thought at one time or another in our lives, depending on the person we’re in a long-term relationship with. Passion vs. stability, and can you find both in the same package?
I’m already headed for Drew before he has a chance to respond. I don’t give two shits about the waste of carbon behind me, but what is clear is exactly how I feel about Drew. I love her. It pulses through me, alive and tenacious. I am deeply, hopelessly, effortlessly in love with her, even if she will never feel that way about me. But I don’t even care. I just want to give her what she needs, and right now, what she needs more than anything is a good friend.
This is a longish quote, and I love the selflessness Graham shows here. Tabling his ego to give a friend the support she needs.
Our best matches are those who are not going to rescue us, not going to be rescued by us, but those who more closely mirror our own wounds, bruise for bruise, scar for emotional scar.
Another epiphany from Graham, on why a girl he’s dating is probably not his best match.
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.
Author Social Media Links:
Jess’s blog: http://jessriley.blogspot.com
Links to the book:
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