CHICKEN GIRL by Heather T. Smith


Age Range: 14 - 18
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A Canadian teen wallowing in suffering gets pulled out of it by people worse off than her.

About six months ago, the internet was mean to Poppy. She posted a picture of herself posing like Rosie the Riveter, someone digitally edited a hamburger in her hand, fatphobic comments ensued, and Poppy retreated from her life. She stopped doing roller derby and took a job advertising for a restaurant while dressed in a full-body chicken suit. Her parents and twin brother, Cam, worry, but all Poppy wants to do is keep upsetting herself, binging on social media atrocities. When Poppy meets a small girl named Miracle, she’s introduced to a community of homeless people and their friends and slowly learns to see outside her own pain. The plot reads like multiple lessons and morals haphazardly cobbled together instead of a novel. Miracle’s mother is a sex worker, which appalls judgmental Poppy. Cam recently came out as gay and experiments with flamboyance, leading Poppy to conclude that he’s forgetting who he really is, and a rape scene plays into homophobic tropes about predatory gay men. One character seems to exist only to teach the reader about transgender issues, reduced to his desire for bottom surgery and his experiences with transphobia. The book follows a white default with some implied diversity in secondary characters.

There’s a lot to enjoy about Poppy’s voice, but heavy-handed moralizing impedes the reading experience. (Realistic fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-14-319868-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2019


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