It’s 1985 and psychotherapist Lauren Olive, a pampered Baby Boomer in the California wine country, has never owned a bank account, lived without a man, or seen the dark side of life. But after she loses her job, and then the love of her life abandons her for his hairdresser, she’s forced to move to a decrepit bungalow in the backwoods and accept work as a drug counselor in a rural jail.
At her new job, the inmates view her wide-eyed naivete with hilarity and her hardened coworkers resent her middle-class roots. Worse, the bungalow seems poised to collapse around her. If Lauren is going to survive financially, regain normality, and avoid going back to live with her parents in Philadelphia, she’ll need to leave her little-girl ways behind. But success doesn’t come without struggle. Surrounded by her crusty landlord, the jail’s seasoned deputies, skeptical inmates and a new love interest, Lauren must confront challenges she never could have imagined in her comfortable city life.
Escape Routes is a tale of maturity under duress. It speaks to the emerging audience of readers who want stories of growth and accomplishment by strong women in compelling situations. Although it is a work of fiction, it offers a glimpse into rural American criminal justice during the 1980s, a time when addiction treatment for inmates was in its formative years. Its narrative captures genuine lifestyles, concerns, speech, and behavior without demonizing, demeaning, or glamorizing the characters on either side of the bars.