Chicken Girl

256p. Penguin Teen Canada. Mar. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780143198680.
Gr 9 Up—When Internet trolls mock a photo of Poppy posing as Rosie the Riveter, the Canadian teen is deeply hurt and retreats from the world, taking on a job as a fast-food mascot; she wears a giant chicken suit. As she gets to know a young girl named Miracle and deals with numerous family issues, she comes to see her own problems as less serious. Smith explores myriad issues in this novel, including queer identity and coming out, sexual assault, homelessness, sex work, illegal drug use, body shaming, transgender defamation, elder care, white nationalism, immigration, and incarceration, but none are delved into with any depth. Poppy's self-induced loss of identity after being body shamed in an Internet forum is realistic, but her seeking comfort in the sleeping bag of a homeless young man minutes after meeting him is unbelievable. Poppy's own familial economic status seems contradictory at times. Supporting characters feel incomplete. Poppy's obsessive tendencies are not shown as consequential coping mechanisms and instead may be perceived as a flawed character trait. Smith's use of a repetitive onomatopoeia distracts from the story line.
VERDICT With a multitude of young adult novels examining timely adolescent concerns, there are plentiful choices in place of this novel to support teens confronting these issues. Not recommended.

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