Thursday, March 2, 2023

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

Lawn Boy
by Jonathan Evison
320 pages
Published April 2018 by Algonquin Books

Publisher's Summary: 
For Mike Muñoz, a young Chicano living in Washington State, life has been a whole lot of waiting for something to happen. Not too many years out of high school and still doing menial work—and just fired from his latest gig as a lawn boy on a landscaping crew—he knows that he’s got to be the one to shake things up if he’s ever going to change his life. But how? 

 In this funny, angry, touching, and ultimately deeply inspiring novel, bestselling author Jonathan Evison takes the reader into the heart and mind of a young man on a journey to discover himself, a search to find the secret to achieving the American dream of happiness and prosperity. That’s the birthright for all Americans, isn’t it? If so, then what is Mike Muñoz’s problem? Though he tries time and again to get his foot on the first rung of that ladder to success, he can’t seem to get a break. But then things start to change for Mike, and after a raucous, jarring, and challenging trip, he finds he can finally see the future and his place in it. And it’s looking really good.

My Thoughts:
It's been a while since I share with you what Mama Shepp's Family Recommends so you may not remember that there are a lot of readers in  my family. In fact, my Rhode Island aunt is also in a book club and she and I enjoy talking about what each of our bookclubs is reading. Recently she mentioned that she was reading Jonathan Evison's Lawn Boy and not much enjoying it. By the next week, when she had finished the book, her opinion had turned around and she was recommending it. So I immediately requested it from the library...because if it goes on the TBR list, it might never see the light of day again. 

My experience with the book was very much the same as was my aunt's. A story about a young man struggling to make it in the world and find his way initially intrigued me and then, for me, devolved into a ceaselessly depressing read as things went from bad to worse for our protagonist. The humor began to fade and I became so disappointed in the bad decisions Mike made that it was hard to feel sorry for the bad luck he was experiencing. I began to despair that I would not round the corner that my aunt had. And then...there we were, on the other side. Things began to fall into place. The easy but questionable paths shut down for Mike but pushed him down a path that would lead him in the right direction to turn his life around. Then I could return to the feeling that I'd had in the beginning of the book, that life is stacked against so many people and choices are so limited that it's all but impossible for them to lift themselves out of poverty. We can't help but hope throughout the book that Mike will be able to do that and that we could find a way to help more people do that. 

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