2021 releases · fiction

An Ode to the Weird Chicken Book: Brood by Jackie Polzin

Brood by Jackie Polzin – London Review Bookshop Staff PicksGoodreads blurb: Meet Gloria, Gam Gam, Darkness, Miss Hennepin County, and their unlikely owner. Over the course of a single year, our nameless narrator heroically tries to keep her small brood of four chickens alive despite the seemingly endless challenges that caring for another creature entails. From the freezing nights of a brutal winter to a sweltering summer which brings a surprise tornado, she battles predators, bad luck, and the uncertainty of a future that may not look anything like the one she always imagined.

Brood is a darkly witty, deeply moving and startling original debut novel of motherhood and grief, full of sorrow, joy and unrelenting hope.

 

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“A chicken knows only what it can see. A chicken’s life is full of magic. Lo and behold.”

This book for some reason consumed my every waking hour for the past month, and as I sit here, I am having a hard time conveying to you how good it was and why I think you should read it. First of all, let’s get this out of the way – I hate chickens. Or more precisely, I am terrified of them. So when I first saw this book (I think it was on the Books & Bao channel when Will talked about it, and honestly, no one can sell me a book like they can), I was naturally skeptical. BUT I became obsessed with the concept and I like to make a parody of myself at all times, so I ended up getting the book and actually picking it up the minute I opened the package. Thus became the chicken book saga. AND then I absolutely loved it.

Jackie Polzin’s writing was just perfectly suited to my taste. This book is told in a series of vignettes basically, which I am always a fan of, because I feel like it’s great for character exploration. Jackie Polzin knows how to construct a perfectly rhythmical sentence, which makes the book compulsively readable. And speaking of that character work, I absolutely loved the narrator – she is incredibly perceptive and her thoughts are so insightful. Her anxiety surrounding her everyday life and in particular her chickens, that is very relatable. This book is so unassuming and quiet and yet manages to explore grief in such a powerful and resounding way. Polzin is an empathetic writer which I really appreciated.

This novel is quite melancholic and pensive throughout, and when I finished it I felt this strange mixture of deep-rooted sadness and hope, and I like to think that that was exactly what the author was going for. I also had this urge to hug the book and stare into the distance pondering my life choices and thinking that maybe I could move somewhere rural and raise chickens. The jury is still out on whether Polzin was going for that as well. This was also quite dark at times, which is surprising, because the book is also quite funny and witty, and I would argue that just the general concept of chickens is light-hearted, which allows for a very fascinating and compelling juxtaposition. This might not seem like an emotional read at first, but there’s something really human about it and I feel like the topics of grief and motherhood and sorrow are explored with such care. GOD I LOVED THIS BOOK and it is my favorite book of the year so far.

Obviously, everyone is expecting a statement on the chickens. Chickens are weird, man. They are PREDATORS and such strange creatures, and while I learned to appreciate them because of this book, they are still terrifying. Very much should not be perceived AT ALL. But I did deeply care for these four chickens. Very hard to choose a fave, but possibly it’s Gloria. So yes, I am glad I decided to forgive the chickens’ past crimes against me to read this, but I stand by my chicken attitudes.

verdict

This was lovely. It was sad and joyous at the same time. It’s a very weird little chicken book and you should go buy it and read it and proceed to tell me all about it. UNLESS you dislike it, in which case I hope a chicken chases you. That shit is scary. ALSO, yay for the first 5 star read of the year.

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I would love to hear from you – did you read this one or have any plans to? Thoughts on chickens as a concept? Let me know!

In the meantime, happy reading

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22 thoughts on “An Ode to the Weird Chicken Book: Brood by Jackie Polzin

  1. There are chickens on the farm where I work and animal books are a hard sell for me so being chased by a chicken if I don’t like the book is perhaps a real possibility… but it also sounds just weird enough to be a potential perfect read, so I’ll have to take the risk! Great review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol, I think I missed the initial discussion of the book in the gc or I would’ve mentioned it! But that is solid advice- chickens really are kind of intense. They always sound like they’re suspicious of me when I have to walk by them, so I remain suspicious of them too, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

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