Hey y’all! I’m so excited to chat about a quieter release from this month, Heather Smith’s Chicken Girl!
This book may sound a bit wild in concept, but it touches on a lot of realistic themes in YA, and Poppy is a really strong character given everything that she’s gone through.
But I don’t want to spoil anything before we get to my post. However, there’s a little surprise–namely, a guest post from Heather herself! Today Heather is on the blog talking about Chicken Girl, Poppy, and her relationship with Cam thoughout the novel. I hope you enjoy!
Siblings and Wordplay
by Heather Smith
You’re probably wondering what that means. Don’t worry you’re not alone. There are only four people in the world that know the meaning behind Popsicle Nothing: my siblings. Like most families we have many inside jokes, shared experiences, and catchphrases that we alone share. I have two brothers and two sisters and for each one I can think of a word or a phrase (in one case a hand motion) that will instantly take us back to a time and place in our collective memories. These connections may seem silly and light but they go much deeper than that. They are shared understandings that strengthen family bonds. The same goes for the sibling characters in Chicken Girl. Through their shared love of wordplay, Poppy and Cam have created a special lexicon – fitting word-blends, or portmanteaus, into their conversation. Here is an example from the opening of the book:
I had one leg in the feathery, yellow costume my boss called a uniform when Cam stomped into my room like a runway model on crack and thrust his chest out at the end of my bed.
“Pops? Be honest. Do I have –” he paused for effect – “moobs?”
It was a running gag, our use of word blends. He was obviously trying to one-up me after I’d used ‘automagically’ earlier that day.
“Nice try,” I said. “But if it doesn’t fit organically into a conversation it doesn’t count.”
He looked down at his torso. “If you must know, the development of man boobs are a genuine concern of mine.”
I gave his naturally athletic body a onceover. “Pfssh. Yeah, right.”
I stepped into the other leg of my costume. “Now if you’ll excuse me. I’m running late and don’t have time for this meaningless –” I paused for effect – “nonversation.”
He groaned in defeat. “Damn you, Poppy.”
On the surface, this wordplay seems like nothing more than a silly competition, but it’s much more than that. Poppy and Cam’s special lexicon shows that they’re on the same wavelength. Throughout the book they have many ups and downs but no matter what happens between them they’ll always have this unique way of connecting. Connections such as these can instantly ground you. In a single utterance you’re reminded of your shared history, something that can never disappear.
So for you readers out there with siblings, I hope you have your own popsicle nothings – and if you don’t, create them.
Five Reasons Why You Should Read Chicken Girl
by Vicky Who Reads
- For a coming of age story. Poppy’s coming of age is wrapped in layers of coming to terms with both herself, but the world and how not everything will be okay. I’m not going to spoil the book for you, but she learns and grows and discovers new things about relationships and life throughout the story, and anyone who likes these types of novels should definitely read this.
- For new friendships. Poppy makes a lot of friends in this book–young and old, from her neighbors to a six year old girl to Lewis. All of them are important to her growth, and the friends she meets are all really important, and it says a lot about her that she’s able to befriend people from so many different walks of life.
- For laughs. Despite Chicken Girl dealing with a lot of heavy topics (see the content warnings at the end of the summary), there’s still funny moments, a lot of the time with Miracle, the 6 year old Poppy meets. And Poppy and her brother, as Heather mention, maintain that fun and silly dynamic with their word blendings.
- To feel things. But ultimately, at its heart, Chicken Girl is a moving story about a teen trying to find a place in the world. Trying to understand how people can be so cruel and how her previous perception of life might be wrong and how the world isn’t just black and white. She learns. She grows. She has relationships start and others end. She mends things with some friends, and lets go of others. Her journey, although contained in less than 250 pages, is one that many readers will relate to.
- To get sucked into a story. And this book is pretty darn entertaining–I read 50 pages in 10 minutes, no joke. That’s how quickly I sped through this novel, and Poppy’s novel and voice is just really easy to read. You get sucked in and can follow along with the journey, both the good and bad, easily as you read Chicken Girl.
More About the Book
Chicken Girl by Heather Smith
Hardcover, 240 pages
March 5th 2019 by Penguin Teen
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.
Content Warnings: rape, victim blaming, fat shaming, transphobia, homophobia, cruelty to animals, cruelty to homeless people, violence
More About the Author
Originally from Newfoundland, Heather Smith now lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with her husband and three children. Her Newfoundland roots inspire much of her writing.
Don’t forget to follow along with the rest of the tour in the graphic below! Thank you so much to Penguin Teen CA for providing me with an ARC!