Our January Front Porch Book Club Selection Is "The Chicken Sisters"

Ashley Leath
·3-min read
Photo credit: Julia Ludham
Photo credit: Julia Ludham

From Country Living

Pull up a seat as we dive in to one book each month with the Country Living Front Porch Book Club, capping each month with a chat with the authors themselves. Our January 2021 selection is author KJ Dell'Antonia's "The Chicken Sisters"!

Amanda Moore is 35, a widow, an artist who’s never taken herself seriously…and about to shock everyone in her small hometown of Merinac, Kansas—including herself.

Everyone knows that the two chicken shacks in Merinac, Chicken Mimi's and Chicken Frannie's, don’t mix. Not clientele, not history, and definitely not their menus. The Merinac-famous chicken joints have been around a century, when then–Chicken Sisters Mimi and Frannie founded competing restaurants…and a legendary feud began.

Years later, Amanda has a dilemma. She’s tired of her life—of spinning her wheels as the hostess at Chicken Frannie’s; of walking an ever-finer line with her mother, Barbara (who, you guessed it, owns Chicken Mimi’s); of nursing her jealousy and judgment toward her too-perfect sister, Mae; of living the same day sunrise to sunset. But how do you change a situation you don’t know how to face, much less navigate?

For Mae, the idea of returning to Merinac, a town she worked so hard to break free of, is ludicrous. She’s got it made in New York City: a successful husband wrapped (however begrudgingly) around her finger, two adorable kids, and her dream job on a home-makeover reality television show. Mae has everything under control, just the way she likes it. No frustrating century-old feuds, no troubled mom who won’t take her advice, no sister who betrayed the family and Chicken Mimi’s to defect to the other side. Mae’s life may not be perfect, and okay yes, she does have to do everything herself to make sure it’s done right, but Mae has it all under control.

Until the fateful day she doesn’t.

Floundering with the loss of her dream job and her marriage under sudden pressure, Mae agrees to the curveball Amanda throws her: Come back to Merinac and participate in the filming of an episode of reality TV competition Food Wars. Mae thinks the show can help relaunch her career; Amanda thinks the prize money could help Chicken Frannie’s expand and get her and her mother-in-law out of the rut they’ve been in since Amanda’s husband died. What neither sister expects is how the show will change them.

What unfolds is a story of the bonds that shape our lives: of mothers and daughters and sisters, obligations and desires, dreams and reality. Amanda and Mae are flawed and messy and so much like our own sisters that you can’t help but laugh at their snark, wince when they hurt one another, and read on, trying your hardest not to skim the pages because you must know now if this century-old feud will claim two more sisters or if the battle of deep-fried family drama will finally be laid to rest.

With a just-right pace that keeps the story flowing, a charmingly rendered setting in small-town Kansas, and characters who are given the freedom to breathe, make mistakes, and follow their hearts, KJ Dell'Antonia's The Chicken Sisters is a pitch-perfect book with which to begin the New Year, when the spirit of starting anew and putting aside baggage (no matter how many centuries old it may be!), is exactly what we need. Well, that and a plate of fried chicken, of course.

COUNTRY LIVING FRONT PORCH BOOK CLUB FOR JANUARY 2021

Selection: The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell'Antonia (available via local bookstores, Amazon, or Bookshop)
Start reading with us January 2.
Tune in to the
Country Living's Instagram Stories as KJ answers your questions and chats live with us about The Chicken Sisters on January 29.

You Might Also Like