The bestselling author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving gives us the story of Mike Muñoz, an intelligent young man struggling to balance his desire to make his mark on the world with a grinding job landscaping the lawns of rich folks and a home life bogged down by poverty and illness.
Jonathan Evison takes a battering ram to stereotypes about race and class in his fifth novel, Lawn Boy. It’s a semi-autobiographical tale spiked with angst and anger, but also full of humor and lots of hope. Mike Muñoz is the lovable young hero of this engaging story in which people growing up outside the cushy world of the upwardly mobile get knocked down over and over ... everything leads to a lesson we can all learn: Change comes when people work together ... Life in 2018 appears to be getting more complicated for people like Mike, but Evison has written an effervescent novel of hope that can enlighten everyone.
Lawn Boy is more tough-minded than Evison’s earlier novels (All About Lulu, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!). It’s a swift, engaging read, with an alternately wry and wistful sense of humor. But it also addresses painful territory head-on, especially when it comes to American economic and cultural inequality ... In Lawn Boy, he pulls it off. The setting and characters couldn’t be more vivid. Mike, a self-described 'tenth-generation peasant with a Mexican last name,' lives with his family in Suquamish. But most of his jobs are across Agate Passage on Bainbridge Island ... It’s a sign of how well-drawn Mike’s struggles are that you want to jump into the book and help point him in the right direction. Evison eventually gives Mike a happy ending on two thoroughly unexpected fronts. If they feel a little rigged, that’s forgivable.
Evison is pointing, angrily, at the class divide in America and demanding that we recognize it. Living as we do in a city where the homeless live in tents next to opulent wealth and everyone tries as hard as they can to ignore the situation, maybe some anger is necessary, even welcome ... This isn’t a martyr’s tale, and Mike is not Poverty Jesus. As we follow Mike through Lawn Boy, we watch him make decisions that are clearly dumb. We watch him tolerate homophobia and misogyny without taking a stand. He knows better, but he falls for scams and self-delusion again and again. He’s not a hero, he’s just a young man who is trying to do the right thing, the same as any other. The difference between Mike and, say, Holden Caulfield is that Mike doesn’t have the safety net of wealth and privilege to fall back on. I whipped through Lawn Boy, and I loved every second of it.