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Audio Book Review: Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

Mark Tulin is a baseball fan from Philadelphia, PA. He has four books of poetry and one short story collection, available on Amazon.

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Audiobook Details

Narrator: P. J. Ochlan. He is an American actor and a voice actor. He has narrated hundreds of audiobooks and has won the Audie Award and several AudioFile Earphones Awards.

Length: 8 hours and 28 minutes.

Release date: April 3rd, 2018

Author: Jonathan Evison

Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Categories: Literature, Fiction, Humor, Drama, Sexuality, LGBQ

Note: I listened to "Lawn Boy" on Audible.com.

About the Author: Jonathan Evison

Jonathan Evison is a New York Times bestseller. He has authored seven novels that include: All About Lulu, West of Here, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, and This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!

Age: 53

He was born in San Jose, CA, the youngest of five children. He attended San Mateo college on and off for three years but never received a degree. Interestingly, he wrote six unpublished novels during his college years and buried three.

Jonathan lives with his wife and family in Washington state.

"Lawn Boy" was pulled from the shelves of Fairfax School District in Virginia and Leander, Texas accusing the main character of being a pedophile. But, said Evison: "The book does not describe or contain pedophilia."

"Lawn Boy" was born from an Evison blog, "Mike Muñoz Saves the World."

He was the founding member of a Seatle punk band called March of Crimes.

Evison is compared to the following authors: J.D. Salinger, Charles Dickens, and John Irving.

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Main Character: Mike Muñoz

Mike Muñoz is a young Chicano living with his mother and special needs brother in Washington. His life after high school consists of low-paying jobs and accumulating debt. For much of the book, Mike tries to find his place in the world. Despite his worthy talents and good intentions, he tries unsuccessfully and is met with much disappointment. However, he lives by a moral code despite how corrupt the world is:

Moral #1: If you are good to people, they will return the favor tenfold.

Moral #2: Good things happen to people who never give up and take risks.

Moral #3: Be honest despite whether people are real with you.

Lawn Boy Summary

The book starts with Mike Muñoz's father abandoning him and then responsible for his brother while his mother works double shifts. Mike finds the world divided between winners and losers, and he feels he's in the loser category.

Mike works at a string of dead-end menial jobs that pays poorly. He is half Mexican and believes that his background works against him in finding a good job.

He acknowledges his love for landscaping and his passion for mowing lawns, trimming the corners, and caring for plants and shrubs. For Mike, caring for a lawn is an art. However, his landscaping bosses are unscrupulous and take advantage of his good nature. Although feeling hopeless much of the time, Mike believes that something good will happen.

His luck changes when Mike meets a librarian assistant named Andrew, who becomes his mentor, advisor, and, eventually, his lover.

Then his Mexican friend, Tino, presents a partnership opportunity in a landscaping business. For the first time in his life, Mike feels valued and hopeful.

After some soul-searching, Mike identifies himself as gay and has accepted that part of himself. And he no longer is ashamed of who he is and what he does for a living.

My Listening Experience

The narrator, P. J. Ochlan, was convincing as Mike Muñoz. He understood the book's emotional tone, had good pacing and used different dialects well.

"Lawn Boy" had many interesting off-beat characters that made the story compelling and humorous. The supporting cast included Mike's brother, Nate, who is developmentally disabled and says inappropriate things. Freddy is a boarder in Mike's house, who turns out to be a valuable benefactor. Nick, Mike's bigoted friend, often gives Mike grief with his narrow-minded views of life. Remy, the young woman who Mike thought he loved, encourages Mike to write his book. Tino, the Mexican landscaper and illegal, has big plans for Mike as a partner in the landscaping business. Finally, a library assistant, Andrew, befriends Mike and helps steer his life in the right direction.

This story addresses many racial, cultural, and sexual issues with humor and seriousness. It is a story that left me satisfied to the end. It was enjoyable to listen to, intriguing plot and humorous dialogue.

I also found it interesting that Mike desires to write a novel about his experiences as a landscaper, mirroring the author's intention.

A compelling read that I give five stars out of five. It is a novel that kept me interested throughout--without lulls, bland characters, or pretentious prose. Instead, each chapter built momentum with humor mixed expertly with drama.

I enjoy stories with down-and-out characters who hang in long enough to get the gold ring.

I highly recommend this audiobook.

Adult Content

This book contains adult content, sexual themes, and plenty of f-bombs. Some parents may feel the main character's sexual honesty and exploration are inappropriate for children. As stated before, the book has drawn some controversy with parents. Therefore, reader and listener discretion is advised.

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