Lawn Boy

Mike Muñoz, the endearing protagonist of Lawn Boy, Jonathan Evison's fifth novel (West of HereThe Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving), is 22 and lives in a trailer on the rez in Suquamish, on Puget Sound. His chain-smoking mother works double shifts at the Tide's Inn while Mike babysits Nate, his developmentally disabled big brother, and spends his spare time reading books like The Octopus and The Jungle.

He works for a lawn service and loves his job--fresh air and satisfaction. He's also something of a savant with topiary. On Tuesdays, the company goes to Bainbridge Island--home to the wealthy and sheltered. Mike's boss sends him to the McClures to clean up their St. Bernard's dumps. It quickly goes to sh*t, so to say, and Mike is fired.

Arrayed against him is a culture of poverty. He finds several new jobs, none of which work out. His mower gets stolen, his truck breaks down permanently, he loses a bit of his soul working for a real estate hustler.

Lawn Boy is empathetic and angry in its portrayal of class, poverty, discrimination--destroyers of dreams. But Mike perseveres--"I had poetry in my heart, goddammit"--and learns to blaze his own trail. He "gets his mow on"; he even finds unexpected true love. In Evison's tough and wry novel, Mike Muñoz is every person who wants a living wage and a little dignity, "the opportunity to think beyond sustenance long enough to dream." --Marilyn Dahl

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