Chicken Girl by Heather Smith
|| Young Adult Contemporary || March 5, 2019 || Penguin Teen ||
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.
*ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
If you see the title and cover of this book and think,,, “well this is going to be adorable! how cute! I’m going to collapse into a field of soft happiness!”
You should know that you’ve been deceived. This book is the exact opposite of comforting. I was completely taken by surprise (((this is what I get for not thoroughly reading blurbs))).
This story is told from the pov of Poppy, a fat teen who loves the 1940s. She romanticizes the shit out of this era. One day she publishes a picture of herself wearing a Rosie the Riveter outfit, which is gorgeous and empowering and she’s v happy.
But sadly, it gets posted on Reddit and the people there bully her because of her body.
Her confidence is shattered, and she legitimately goes into hiding. In a chicken suit. Poppy now has one of those jobs where you stand outside a restaurant wearing a (chicken) costume, and dance/wave a sign to attract customers. And her life is overall,,,,,,,tremendously sad. She watches disturbing YouTube videos (god, the trigger warnings, she describes some disturbing YouTube content) and dwells on the idea that people are mostly bad.
But then she meets a 6-year-old named Miracle! And Miracle is alone wandering the streets???? Miracle invites Poppy to meet her friends, who live under a bridge (((((ngl I had a Dora flashback, the grumpy old troll)))))
And Poppy blossoms ( c: c: c: ) and makes insta-friends!!!! She also starts (that very night) dating a homeless 20-year-old named Buck, who is a waste of her time. He bullies Poppy about her weight???? AND IS GENERALLY A BAD PERSON. Buck & Poppy collectively believe that Buck is charming. But Buck is actually a shithead with a British accent he doesn’t deserve to own.
BUT ANYWAY. Buck is garbage. And Poppy deserves someone who respects her.
But aside from Buck, we get Lewis!
PERFECT SWEET LEWIS???????
I love that boy, he’s just? The perfect boy.
Lewis is transgender, and the book represents his struggles/triumphs related to that extremely well. I was secretly hoping
from the moment I met him that Poppy would come to her senses and date chivalrous, sweet, wise Lewis immediately????
The other major character is Cam, Poppy’s twin brother. Cam is an openly gay teen, and Poppy + Cam are inseparable. we got major sibling rep?????? WHICH MEANS JOY AND HAPPINESS AND PIE. Sadly, Poppy is selfish and not very good at supporting him
even though he’s amazing at being there for her but whatcanyado.
Their entire relationship is made up of cheesy jokes and Poppy calling him, “my sweet Cam.” (oh man, nicknames are so important to me)
However, I think it’s important to know, going into the book, that toward the end Cam is raped and Poppy victim blames. Not only did this break my heart & make me anxious af, it was also *never completely resolved*.
Eventually Cam forgives Poppy for victim blaming,,,but the forgiveness is random and sudden? We needed a conversation, a long TALK. This topic overall wasn’t handled with the care I was hoping for.
Despite it’s issues, I loved this book and am so happy to have been asked on the tour!!!! It’s such a short, soft, quiet book that I think a lot of people are going to enjoy.
TW: rape, victim blaming, fat shaming, transphobia, homophobia, cruelty to animals, cruelty to homeless people, violence
If you like this book, I would recommend: