The 2010 novel followed Vlautin's previous works, The Motel Life and North line. Lean on Pete drew praise from critics in the U.S. and abroad, including a rave from Vlautin's fellow Oregon author, Cheryl Strayed, whose bestselling memoir, Wild, was also turned into a movie that filmed in Oregon.
Chloë Sevigny revealed that she was originally approached to play Charley's aunt, but her agent fought for her to play Bonnie because the latter character is a larger role with "more [for Sevigny] to sink her teeth into."
Director Andrew Haigh has referred to Steve Buscemi and Chloë Sevigny as "the king and queen of American independent cinema," respectively.
-It was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress by Charlie Plummer.