Title: Chicken Girl
Author: Heather Smith
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Everybody has a story that will break your heart; a poignant coming-of-age YA for fans of David Arnold, from the author of the acclaimed The Agony of Bun O’Keefe, a Kirkus Best of the Year selection.
Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she’s having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her: Cam, her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as an openly gay teen; Buck, a charming photographer with a cute British accent and a not-so-cute mean-streak; and Lewis a teen caring for an ailing parent, while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition. As the summer unfolds, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts focusing on the present. But just as she comes to terms with the fact that there is good and bad in everyone, she is tested by a deep betrayal.
This is an amazingly powerful story.
This story was set in Canada. There was a reference to the restaurant Swiss Chalet, which I was so excited about! Swiss Chalet is a rotisserie chicken restaurant in Canada. Usually, there are references to Tim Horton’s which point to Canada, but that is kind of cliche nowadays. The mention of Swiss Chalet was way more accurate and original!
There is a lot of gender diversity in this story. Poppy’s twin brother is gay. She meets a group of homeless people who live under a bridge, which includes a transgender teenage boy. One thing I loved about this story is that Poppy made mistakes while talking to both boys. For example, she asked Lewis what his name was before he became a boy. He told her that was the wrong thing to ask. Most people who don’t have experience with trans people wouldn’t know that, and Poppy reflected that ignorance.
This is a character driven novel, which I don’t typically like, but these characters were so heartbreaking, I couldn’t help but feel for them. My favourite character was Miracle, a six year old girl whose mother was a prostitute. Miracle spends time with the homeless men under the bridge while her mother worked at night. She was so innocent and impressionable, and she was brutally honest at times. I just loved her!
I loved this amazing story! I’m looking forward to seeing the reception of this book, because I think it will become a modern classic.
What to read next:
The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith
Have you read Chicken Girl? What did you think of it?