Lawn Boy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

Mike Munoz is a 22-year old Chicano living in the Seattle area with his overworked mother and severely autistic older brother. Mike is smart and driven. His goal is to build his own landscaping business---he's just not sure how. Surviving the day-to-day seems to be all he has time for anyway (and he's not doing a good job of that either...). It doesn't help that everything seems to be going wrong lately:  his brother's mood swings are out of control, his car won't start, and his landscaping equipment is stolen. Things aren't too hot in the romance department either. What Mike needs is a break. And maybe a little support. Someone to make out with wouldn't hurt either.

This book is basically the young adult version of The Jungle. Mike is down and out, despite all his best efforts. Everything you can think of that might go wrong goes wrong for him---sometimes it's his fault, sometimes it isn't. At his lowest, Mike seeks help from three different types of people:  1) the friendly, deadbeat con, 2) the scheming, brown-nosing salesman, and 3) the hopeless older guy who's barely tried but has already given up on life. In the end, Mike has to take what's he's learned over a disastrous few months and use it to find his own way. (And, no, he doesn't end up a socialist).

Overall, I enjoyed the casual tone of the story. I empathized with Mike. Honestly, reading about his struggle made me remember again how good I have it. I've been through some things in my life, but I've never had to deal with poverty or racism, like so many other people have. The book also reminded me of all the innovative brains and driven personalities out there that are kept from sharing their goodness with the world because of poverty. What an absolute waste of perfectly good human potential. God, it's depressing.

My only minor complaint about the book is that Mike's love relationships seemed poorly-developed and especially rushed at the end. It didn't flow well with the rest of the book, more like author Jonathan Evison wanted to MAKE A POINT without properly weaving it into Mike's story.

Regardless, I enjoyed Lawn Boy. Mike---as a poor, male, book-loving, Chicano yard worker with an autistic brother---is definitely a unique character. And even though the story felt underdeveloped at times, I liked hearing his voice.
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Jonathan Evison has been one of my favorite authors for years. He got me good again here, with Lawn Boy. A great emotional read.
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Another lovely novel by Jonathan Evison. I have loved all his previous books, and this doesn’t disappoint. Evison’s books are often on the quiet side, focusing on people living nitty-gritty lives. Lawn Boy fits this pattern and is worth reading,
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Lawn Boy is a charming story about a guy trying to find his place in life.There is no meanness to it, everybody fares rather well. In the end, we are with one big family of friends, and I liked that. Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC.
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LAWN BOY by Jonathan Evison follows Mike Muñoz, a perpetually down on his luck 22-year-old. He can’t keep a job, his family struggles financially, and he’s romantically awkward. The “American Dream” is impossibly out of reach for him. It’s pretty clear that he’s been set up to fail. By the end of the book, though, Mike goes through something of a reinvention that lends a lot of hope to his story. LAWN BOY is a witty, endearing little book, although at times it felt like I was reading YA. Maybe it was the tone or the first-person narrative, or maybe just my frame of mind. Still, I’d suggest it to anyone looking for a story where the protagonist perseveres in spite of being dealt an unfortunate hand.
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LAWN BOY by Jonathan Evison is a new book on our shelves which deals with class differences and therefore might work as a springboard for Junior Theme.  I had high expectations based on its reviews and publisher's description ("novel about social class distinctions, about overcoming cultural discrimination, and about standing up for oneself") and I did like the beginning of this book – especially since we need more novels that will appeal to male students.  The main character is Mike Munoz, just a few years out of high school and feeling unappreciated and frustrated to be working as a landscaper.  Mike is in the midst of a series of adventures in what is essentially a coming of age story.  Unfortunately, though, he is not much of a role model due to numerous poor decisions and he really struggles with staying committed to a job and building a future in the face of continuing bad luck. Change eventually comes, in part due to a developing romantic interest with Andrew, a concerned friend and sometimes activist.  Readers learn much from Mike's internal musings, but his feelings are so self-centered and repetitive that there are many times when they, like me, will want to scream "wake up; take action" at him. That reaction, however, is more of a backhanded compliment to Evison (This is Your Life, Harriet Chance) who is skilled at providing realistic details and developing his characters. Both Publishers Weekly and Booklist gave LAWN BOY starred reviews. 

Link in live post:
http://treviansbookit.blogspot.com/2015/09/this-is-your-life-harriet-chance-by.html
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Beautiful heartwarming story with characters everyone will love!
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"The library was the most stable place in our lives, the only thing in the whole damn society that said to little Mike Munoz: "Here you go kid, it's all yours for the asking." No matter that your ears were dirty and your hair was greasy. No matter that your mentally challenged brother didn't have much of an indoor voice or that he tended to throw books. At the library, a little ferret of a kid like me had a chance. The only currency he needed was a library card." 

"So, whoever you are, whatever your last name is, where ever you came from, whichever way you swing, whatever is standing in your way, just remember: you're bigger than that. Like the man said: you contain multitudes."

Lawn Boy is a coming of age novel about 22-year-old Mike Munoz, a half-white, half-Latino young man living with his mother, his brother who has intellectual disabilities and Freddy, his mom's sort-of boyfriend. Mike is jaded by his life experiences so far (multiple father figures disappearing, zero luck with the females, constant fear of joblessness and homelessness, absolutely no upward mobility for personal growth). But he has the heart of an artist and a dreamer. Mike's biggest passion is his talent for topiary. He finds himself in a slew of situations that set him back; from quitting a literally shitty job to gambling his money away after a promising job opportunity goes south. Mike has to make some life-changing choices that help him discover who he really is and where he wants  to be. The reader finds themselves both smacking their foreheads and cheering Mike on in turn. It's also a good reminder that there's always someone who has it a little worse than you and compassion goes a long way. 

The only thing I didn't absolutely love or think was necessary was the lower cased pronouns throughout the book. There was a forced quality about it that I didn't like and was a distraction for me. Otherwise, it was a great story line with engaging character development. 4 stars!
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... a beautiful, heart wrenching, and humorous coming of age story that everyone needs to read!!! The characters are so perfectly flawed and human, the reader can't help but love them all!
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Lawn Boy is the captivating story of Mike Muñoz and his struggle to make a better life for himself than the one he's been dealt. He grew up poor, has very little prospects, and just can't seem to catch a break. I initially thought this book was only about a young, poor Mike trying to cross the social divide and better his life but it's so much more than that. We watch him struggle with his sexual identity, come to terms with his past, and find out who he is as a person without other people in his life telling him who he is. This is his story about getting off the hamster wheel and going from merely just surviving life to thriving in it. I loved this story and watching Mike rise above his circumstances, time and time again. The language in the book is excessive for my tastes and the relationship towards the end just didn't seem to fit. Thank you @algonquinbooks for this advance reader in exchange for my honest review.
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I absolutely loved this book. I laughed so hard. I sped right through this highly enjoyable read.

"They moved Disneyland" was just one of the first things that had me laughing out loud.

A tale of a California Mexican who lives in a trailer with his older brother (who has mental deficiencies) and his mother on an Indian reservation. If it weren't for bad luck, Michael would have none at all.

"We occupied space" another quote that had me cracking up.

I laughed out loud several times while reading this. The jabs on Freddy were especially funny. Of course, there was quite a bit to work with. I was still laughing the next day after reading when something reminded me of Freddy. Good grief, he certainly steals the show. What a life he has! Ha!! He does come through in the end. Who would have thunk it?

A hilarious read that held me spellbound while living life through Michael's eyes. Excellent read!

Huge thanks to Algonquin Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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A beautifully written heart wrenching coming age story.Mike Munoz search for himself his sexuality his place in life.Funny emotional highly recommend. # NetGalley # lawnboy #algonquin books,
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When I started reading Lawn Boy I thought I was reading a social commentary, showing the absolute divide between the haves and have-nots. This novel is actually about so much more.  It's a funny, honest and at times heartbreaking coming of age story where Mike Munoz is on a quest to find himself: his sexual identity, his artistic self and trying to figure out what his life's calling is.  I love his persona and his willingness to see the best in everyone, and his ability to know when enough is enough.
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Evison's writing is gorgeous, as always, but Mike made me so sad that it was hard for me to get momentum until the second half of the book.
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Thank you Netgalley and publishers for a copy of this book to review.  I enjoyed this coming-of-age novel about young Mike Munoz, a master landscaper who can't seem to catch a break.  The voice of this narrator is spot-on and makes the story feel real.  Deals with issues of social class and is uplifting and affirming.  Enjoyed this fun read.
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The first pages of this book was difficult for me because of the use of the 'f' word.  Also, the none capitalization of the word I. But as I got further in the book, I became captured by the trails of Michael. Great ending.
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Mike Munoz is the kid we see on the street or at the mall or anywhere else and think nothing about but we should.  This funny, insightful novel is about finding yourself when you're really just trying to stay afloat.  Nothing in Mike's life has been or will be easy but he plugs along, consistently with a sense of sometimes sarcastic humor.   Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  I don't  always enjoy coming of age stories but this one caught my attention.
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Lawn Boy was a funny, happy coming of age story.  Mike Muñoz is a likeable but flawed human struggling his way through a life that will be familiar to too many people. Set in the North Pacific, Mike grew up and lives on a reservation (although not a member of the tribe). In this book Mike tells us his story as he finds himself, both in his personal and professional lives.  Although coming of age stories are common, this book is unique in its portrayal of a new adult in a real world, not ensconced in the "high school then college" paradigm, but rather from an immature man (almost a lost boy), living a stagnant existence in a hard-up home, to a self-actualized adult.  He finds his way to his own future, learning from those around him and finding strength within himself.  Although didactic at times, this book was an overall joy to read.
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At one point or another, each of us wonders how, as we grow up, we'll find our place in the world. Mike Munoz is no different; a talented but underappreciated and underpaid landscaper struggles to get out of the cycle he's grown up in. He hasn't had anything handed to him and struggles to find a job that actually means something. Munoz, as readers will come to know, has friends in wealthy places and no so wealthy places, but by the end, manages to succeed in his own right. Evison's Lawn Boy is so much more than that -- he's a friend, a brother, a son, an artist and all are explored within this novel.
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Mike Munoz can’t catch any breaks it seems. “I’d like nothing more than to spread my proverbial wings and fly the f**k away from my current life, or maybe just get above it for a while.”  His only job skill is lawn maintenance which he enjoys, and when he loses his job and can’t find another, he is plagued by one grinding indignity after another, and says, “After all, most of us are mowing someone else’s lawn, one way or another....fleetingly content, most of the time broke, sometimes hopeful, but ultimately powerless.  And angry.  Don’t forget angry.”

He still lives with his mother who sometimes has to waitress double shifts to cover expenses so Mike’s most important role is providing care for his 300-pound older brother Nate who functions at the level of a five year old, and for whom he is a surprisingly compassionate and tender caregiver.  Some jobs won’t work because the hours conflict with the hours he needs to spend with Nate.  Enter easy-going Freddy who is really good with Nate and whose baritone voice soothes him when he’s acting out. 

They live on the res and Mike points out that you don’t have to be an Indian to rent there.  “Apparently all you need is a bunch of broken shit in your yard.” At one point their landlord raises the rent forcing them to live in their car until another rental becomes available.  Mike is a determined young man who doesn’t want to “settle.”  He didn’t learn job skills at school but he did learn to read and the library becomes one of the warm places he likes to hang out and get book suggestions from a librarian. As a former librarian I adored this: “The library was the most stable thing in our lives, the only thing in the whole damn society that said to little Mike Munoz: ‘There you go, kid, it’s all yours for the asking.”

I think this is a rich as The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving and certainly as warm and humorous.  One of Evison’s themes was the class divide in America.  Mike had a dust-up with a wealthy client and said “I guess when you’re a big rich, important person, sitting around on your ass, meditating on your big important, rich-guy thoughts, moving your money around in the ‘free market,’ the one built on the backs of slaves and children, you can’t be bothered with noisy lawn movers.”  

Mike Munoz is not given over to complaining and recognizes the need for honesty in his voyage of self-discovery, one step at a time making interesting and loyal friendships along the way. I absolutely loved this book, hated for it to end.
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