Journalist Tove Danovich's first book, Under the Henfluence, is a delightful blend of memoir, reporting, and straight-up chicken fangirling. While Danovich dreamed of owning backyard chickens during her years in Brooklyn, she never imagined they'd eventually take over her life. But when she moved to the Pacific Northwest and ordered three chicks (to start), the obsession began--and it soon went far beyond building a coop and finding the perfect names for her girls.
Danovich charts her journey from newbie chicken keeper to experienced manager of her own flock (mostly named after Mad Men characters, female detectives or country singers). She delves into the differences, cosmetic and otherwise, between breeds; visits a poultry show in Ohio; and talks to local vets about the difficulties of providing quality chicken care. Danovich also exposes the unsavory side of the poultry industry, admitting that even backyard chicken-keepers who treat their flocks like royalty are, in some ways, complicit in a system that's not good for either chickens or humans.
With wry, witty anecdotes and plenty of chicken jokes, Danovich makes backyard flocks compelling, even to readers who'd rather buy eggs than go hunting for them. She lovingly describes her chickens' personalities, chronicles her failures and triumphs in caring for them, and explores the complex human-chicken relationship: not quite livestock, not quite pets. Under the Henfluence is a fun, informative tour through the world of backyard chickens--for anyone who dreams of starting a flock or who wonders what the cluck all the fuss is about. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams