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 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, Food Wars becomes her chance to step back into the limelight. Mae is certain she can make the fading Mimi's look good-even if that pits her against Amanda and Frannie's. With a greedy producer stoking the flames, their friendly rivalry quickly turns into a game of chicken. When family secrets become public, the sisters must choose: will they fight with each other, or for their heritage?
Expect picture-perfect lives that fall apart away from the camera, an all-chicken recreation of Stephen King's Carrie and a manipulative host who really needs a donut-and expect to come away thinking about your own choices, too.
"A charming first novel about family, regrets, and second chances. Dell'Antonia deftly deals with issues of mental illness, marriage troubles, and dreams deferred, all the while telling a funny satire of reality TV. An utter delight from start to finish."
"Dell'Antonia writes convincingly and sympathetically about complicated family relationships, giving Mae and Amanda each relatable flaws. The Food Wars scenes are a fun peek behind the curtain of the reality TV world, and the small-town warmth of Merinac is comfortingly quirky. A charming and satisfying story about family bonds that will make meat eaters everywhere crave fried chicken."
"Nobody knows the humor and pathos of complicated family relationships better than K.J. Dell'Antonia, which is why this story about sisters and fried chicken and reality TV is such a satisfying read. It's like the comfort-food of novels: warm, memorable, and wholly original. I loved it."
-Laura Zigman, author of Separation Anxiety
We can raise our families, live our lives, and love (almost) every minute of it?-?if we let go of the idea of parenting as a direct route to destination: success, and decide to meander along our own merry way.
This former New York Times reporter is taking on the rug rat race?-?join me! I wrote and edited the Motherlode blog for the Times from 2011 until 2016 and was a contributing editor to the Well Family section from 2016-2017. Ten minutes in my kitchen would convince you that, while some parts of my family life are enviably together (the Rice Krispie treats on the counter, the meal in the slow cooker) others are works in progress (the child on the floor, wailing that the homework is "too hard"). "How to Be a Happier Parent" is not a memoir (far from it!). Instead, my research, interviews and reporting are geared towards helping all of us figure out "how it's done" in the bits of family life we find most challenging.