Lawn Boy
by Evison, Jonathan

Faced by a life of menial prospects in the years after high school, Mike Muņoz, a young Mexican-American, attempts over and over to change his life for the better and achieve the American dream, only to be stymied by social-class distinctions and cultural discrimination. By the author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving.

*Starred Review* Meet Mike Muņoz, a 22-year-old landscaper who spends his days mowing lawns and edging flower beds, his evenings taking care of his disabled brother, and his nights dreaming about elaborate topiary and writing the great American novel. When Mike is fired for refusing to pick up rain-sodden St. Bernard feces, he embarks on a path of self-discovery that introduces an eccentric cast of characters, including a shrewd entrepreneur with questionable business practices, an ambitious but unscrupulous realtor, an eccentric housemate who provides bass guitar accompaniment while watching classic porn, a group of hipster bearded baristas who favor artisanal sandwiches, and Andrew, a philosophical librarian with an activist streak. Evison (This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! 2015) excels at finding the humanity in his characters, and even the most loathsome are given redeeming qualities. This tender bildungsroman follows Mike from one setback to another, each interaction involving slyly observant and brilliantly witty dialogue that also poignantly conveys vulnerability. Evison skillfully weaves the American Dream into a subtle social novel to illustrate how race and class can thwart aspiration. In his bighearted portrayal of Mike Muņoz, Evison has created an indelible human spirit content to live authentically, which just might prove to be the true American dream. For readers of Sam Lipsyte and Jonathan Tropper. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

An aimless young man decides to get his life together, but life has other plans. Mike Muñoz doesn't quite know what he wants out of life, but he knows he deserves better than what he's got now: a terrible job cutting lawns, a truck that barely runs, and a tiny house packed with a disabled brother, an exhausted mother, and his mother's broke boyfriend who likes to watch porn in the living room while jamming on his bass guitar. Soon enough, however, he doesn't even have the job or the truck, and, in an ill-fated attempt to guilt-trip his mom into kicking out her boyfriend, Mike takes up residence in a shed in the backyard. Despite the steady stream of bad luck and worse decisions, Evison (This Is Your Life Harriet Chance, 2015, etc.) brings genuine humor to Mike's trials and tribulations. The writing is razor-sharp, and Evison has an unerring eye for the small details that snap a scene or a character into focus. The first-person narration turns Mike into a living, breathin g person, and the reader can't help but get pulled into his worldview. "After all, most of us are mowing someone else's lawn, one way or another, and most of us can't afford to travel the world or live in New York City. Most of us feel like the world is giving us a big fat middle finger when it's not kicking us in the face with a steel-toed boot. And most of us feel powerless. Motivated but powerless." The novel has a light tone and is laugh-out-loud funny at times, but at a certain point, Mike's trials and tribulations move from comically frustrating to just frustrating. With so much going wrong for him, the reader can expect that the universe will smile on Mike eventually, but there's only so many sick family members, unpaid bills, bad jobs, awkward situations, and thwarted plans a character can suffer through. We root for Mike while also wishing we didn't have to root so hard. A book about triumphing over obstacles, and obstacles, and obstacles, and more obstacles. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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