In today's fast-paced world, many people feel disconnected from those around us, as well as from the earth and Mother Nature. Many of us are learning to reconnect with the planet, teaching others as we go along our journeys after catching glimpses of a not-so-wonderful future on a possibly dying planet.
In his debut novel Mr Green Jeans, Chris McGee offers a different take on the fight to save the world, introducing Jack and Lake Creek in this cli-fi (climate fiction, a term coined in the last decade for fiction focused on climate change and the resulting natural disasters) eco-novel. In what may be termed a mid-life crisis, Jack – teacher by day, eco-warrior by night – begins his journey to save Mother Earth by toppling a few billboards along an interstate highway in Missouri, leaving the signature "Mr Green Jeans." After a close call, he tells his wife, Lake, about his nocturnal adventures, and learns she's eager to join the fray. After strategizing, the couple hops into a van (painted green, of course) and take their message on the road.
Instead of continuing the fight against eyesore billboards, they go a more positive route by hanging canvas banners from billboards, buildings and highway bridges – banners containing messages from Mother Earth urging all to take action against climate change and a variety of institutions and beliefs threatening the Earth's well-being.
While the couple believes they are on this journey alone, they are, in fact, supported by family, friends, fellow eco-stewards, and even a few members of the media. Their travels take them from their home in Missouri throughout the Midwest and Great Plains and finally into an embattled Southwest region near Phoenix.
Mr Green Jeans allows one to go along for the ride as Jack and Lake spread the word that the planet is in pain and, while we humans are undoubtedly the cause of that pain, we are also the only possible solution. The novel is well-written, keeping one's attention as Jack and Lake struggle to outrun their opposition, all the while attempting to remain anonymous as their message goes viral on social media platforms.
The ups and downs and close calls experienced by these dedicated and likeable eco-stewards bring the reader to the edge of the seat, as we feel Jack and Lake's sense of urgency and accomplishment, and the hope they are helping the planet and making a difference in the larger picture of today's standoffs between environmental activists and those urging growth at any cost. At the end of the novel, the Creeks see their lives change forever; that may also hold true for the reader.
As an aside, this is the first in a series of books planned by the author to feature Jack, Lake and friends. I, for one, look forward to reading the continuing journey of these eco-stewards.
Whether you are among those taking a more involved approach to helping the environment, or you are contemplating a plan of action, or you simply remember the activism of your youth, you will appreciate the message and the characters of Mr Green Jeans. And you'll have a fine time reading this thrilling and enthralling example of the cli-fi genre.