Book club questions for The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia takes a closer look at all the family dynamics and more in this engaging read. There will be spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I really enjoyed this one! It’s been an intense year with many, many serious books. And I like those type of books. But sometimes you just need an easy read with a great setting.
So here’s where I get into my spoiler thoughts about the book. I have to say, the sisters got intense! Man, it went to places I did not expect. Amanda, especially, surprised me with some of her attacks—taking up Mimi’s chicken, announcing her mother is a hoarder, etc. I think she was just so tired of being the pushover and Mae really knew how to push her buttons. Mae is definitely not innocent either—she did not come back home with pure intentions at all. But I really liked the journey and how both learned so much about themselves and each other. The story is quite heartfelt and even sad at times. I loved the ending and I now understand why it’s called The Chicken Sisters!
In tiny Merinac, Kansas, Chicken Mimi’s and Chicken Frannie’s have spent a century vying to serve up the best fried chicken in the state–and the legendary feud between their respective owners, the Moores and the Pogociellos, has lasted just as long. No one feels the impact more than thirty-five-year-old widow Amanda Moore, who grew up working for her mom at Mimi’s before scandalously marrying Frank Pogociello and changing sides to work at Frannie’s. Tired of being caught in the middle, Amanda sends an SOS to Food Wars, the reality TV restaurant competition that promises $100,000 to the winner. But in doing so, she launches both families out of the frying pan and directly into the fire. . .
The last thing Brooklyn-based organizational guru Mae Moore, Amanda’s sister, wants is to go home to Kansas. But when her career implodes, helping the fading Mimi’s look good on Food Wars becomes Mae’s best chance to reclaim the limelight–even if doing so pits her against Amanda and Frannie’s. Yet when family secrets become public knowledge, the sisters must choose: Will they fight with each other, or for their heritage?
Book Club Questions for The Chicken Sisters
- Why did Amanda apply for the rival chicken restaurants to appear on Food Wars? What did she hope to get out of it?
- What do you think of Mae’s decision to come back home to participate in Food Wars? Why was Amanda so upset when she found out that Mae was coming back for it?
- Let’s talk about the key differences between Mae and Amanda. How do they both misunderstand and underestimate each other?
- Why do you think they’ve never been very close?
- Amanda is pretty naive to how the reality TV show process works and ends up revealing right away some family secrets—including that Mae had worked as a stripper. How did that set the stage for what was to come with the two families?
- Mae’s big rebellion was getting out of Kansas and moving to New York. While Amanda’s was marrying Frank and working at Frannie’s. Let’s compare and contrast these two rebellious acts.
- What do you think of their mother, Barbara? How did she set the stage for the complicated dynamic between the sisters? Let’s discuss the impact of her hoarding on both sisters.
- Mae is known as an organization guru but she never tries to fix her mother’s house until later in this story. Why do you think she avoided the house for so long?
- The book revolves around these two very different restaurants that were started by sisters. Let’s first talk about how different Mimi’s and Frannie’s are.
- What did you think about the reveal that this whole time, they actually use the same recipe for fried chicken?
- Everyone thought the restaurants were rivals and the sisters were at war. But they find out that Mimi actually gave Frannie a loan to start her own restaurant as she didn’t think Frannie’s husband could do it. Why did this reveal change everything between the two families?
- What was the key turning point for Mae and Amanda to start to understand each other?
- What do you think about the decision for the two restaurants to combine and become The Chicken Sisters?
- What happens next for all the characters?
- If you had a chance to appear on a reality TV show, would you do it?
- If they turn the book into a movie or TV series, who do you think should play the main roles?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for The Chicken Sisters! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
If you’re looking for another story about sisters, Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner is a good choice. This one is more intense and serious than The Chicken Sisters but it’s very much focused on the relationship between two different sisters.
Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.
Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.
But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?
In “her most sprawling and intensely personal novel to date” (Entertainment Weekly), Jennifer Weiner tells a “simply unputdownable” (Good Housekeeping) story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Another great Reese pick and one about sisters is The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi. Highly recommend this one if you haven’t read it yet.
Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…
Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.