Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Mike Muñoz loves his job. He just wishes he was allowed to do it. He wants to cut lawns, do precise edgings and create topiaries. Instead he is expected to pick up dog poop and help geriatric customers clear out their garages. Mike may really need the money but he quits anyway. While looking for a new job he plans to write the Great American Landscaping Novel but nothing seems to be working out and he can’t seem to catch a break.
I liked Mike and could empathize with his struggle to find a job he loves and the respect he deserves. He’s a young man, living in a small home with his mother and special needs brother and knows his paycheck is crucial to their survival but he just can’t do it anymore. He struggles with his identity, being half-Mexican and half-white living on a reservation, as well as his sexuality, wondering if that brief encounter in his youth with another guy is an indication of his being gay or if the waitress he’s been working up the courage to talk to is more his type. He’s also smart, loving the novels the local librarian recommends to him, but struggling to find work doing menial tasks like sticking the heads on bobblehead dolls.
If you’re looking for the Great American Landscaping Novel I’m guessing this is the closest you’ll ever get; you’ll get to know and like Mike who is just trying to find his way in the world and discover who he is at the same time.