Sunday, June 18, 2006

Soul of a Chicken

I recall Dovey Coe fondly, and I expected to like Frances O'Roark Dowell's Chicken Boy. I wasn't disappointed. Though it has a lot of the trappings of many other young people's novels - dead mother, grieving family unable to cope or communicate, young protagonist who finds a friend and a sense of purpose and belonging - in Dowell's hands it is a fresh story with the unexpected and very entertaining addition of flocks of chickens. I liked the idea that the whole family was troubled by the death of their mother and that all of them were included in the therapy scenes. I loved the buoyant optimism of the Otis brothers and their revitalizing effect in Tobin's life. I felt very close to Tobin and wanted his life to find an even keel all the way through the novel. I also found myself wishing I were not reading alone as there were passages I wanted to read aloud to someone: "And then the words sank in and so did the hurt, going deep into places I didn't even know could hurt just from somebody saying they didn't want you." It's true writing and honest writing. I'm glad it made my list this weekend.

1 comment:

MotherReader said...

I loved this book too. Though I wish it had a different name because I'm not sure boys are picking it up. Whenever I have talked about it at a school, everyone laughs at the name, and I'm not sure it's a good laugh. The speech the kid gives about seventh graders and never having experienced a chicken, that's priceless.

You're really covering some territory book wise. I'm impressed!