REVIEW: “Chokeleaf” by M.J. Garland

Review of M.J. Garland, “Chokeleaf,” Luna Station Quarterly 50 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Depression and suicidal ideation.

Chokeleaf — or Ficus effusio, to give it its Latin name — is an invasive species, and the Trailblazers are there to do their part in eradicating it. The Trailblazers themselves are a motley group of do-gooders, college drop outs, and know-it-alls, the only thing united them is a desire to help rid the park of this plant, which is threatening not only the local wildlife, but the human visitors as well. Through the eight weeks they spend at the park, we learn about Steph, and her past, the people she’s left behind and the life she would like to get back do. Despite the fantasy elements, there is something that feels very real about this story.