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The Chicken Soup Murder

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  35 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Part crime fiction, part murder mystery, part meditation on grieving, friendship and family, Maria Donovans debut novel, The Chicken Soup Murder, is a coming-of-age story narrated with resilience and humor by Michael, whose cozy young life is threatened by bullying and blasted by visitations from the biggest bully of them all: Death. Within Michaels own past are unanswered ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 1st 2018 by Seren
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I didn't know much about The Chicken Soup Murder before I read it. I tend to avoid blurbs because for some reason they often contain major spoilers. All I knew was it had a child narrator and it dealt with grief. That's actually exactly what it's about, a child dealing with bereavement, and there's possibly a murder thrown in too, if you believe the narrator, but no one does.

Michael is a flawed narrator. Because of his youth and sheltered life, he is generally naive of worldlier matters and he
Rita Gould
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Chicken Soup Murder is a moving novel that focuses on a close-knit group of neighbors who recently lost two of their number. Janeys father dies of cancer, and Irma dies unexpectedly of natural causes. Only 11-year-old Michael, the narrator, disagrees. Home sick the day she died, he sees enough to be convince her police constable murdered her but cant get adults to hear him out. Donovan deftly gives adults both reasons, fair or otherwise, to dismiss him, maintaining the tension of whether a ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
You can also find my review of The Chicken Soup Murder on my book blog.

The Chicken Soup Murder is a novel told from the perspective of Michael, a primary school boy (about to move on to "Big School"). Michael lives with his nan in a cul-de-sac in a small town near the coast; his neighbours are a community, the closest neighbours virtually family.

However, all is not well in Michael's seemingly idyllic little world. Before the novel even starts, his friend Janey lost her father to cancer - which
Helen Corton
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Its 2012, year of the London Olympics, and a year of great change for 11 year old Michael. He lives with his Nan as his parents are in prison, experiencing bulling at school and finding himself having to cope with the grief from the loss of his best friend Janeys dad from cancer at the same time as supporting her, his life is complicated and emotional.
The murder itself is that of Michaels neighbour and Nans best friend Irma, suddenly, one afternoon, while she was making chicken soup. The problem
Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michaels friend Janey has lost her dad to cancer and Michael understands this, but the other person who died? Nextdoor neighbour and dear friend Irma. Was it a heart condition, an accident or murder?

The safe, cosy world of young Michael and his Nan changes dramatically. Michael also has to cope with George, a bully, who moves into Irmas house with his father Shawn prior to her death.

The plot twists and turns over many months as I follow the lives of three families jolted sideways after these two
Jim Bates
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a deeply moving story about a murder, yes, but also about a boy trying to come to terms with loss and the changing relationships of those he is close to. It is so well written I did not want it to end. Young Michael is ill and has stayed home from school. He is being cared for by his next door neighbor and friend, Irma, while his grandmother, who is raising him, is at work. When Irma dies that day under what Michael is convinced are mysterious circumstances while making him chicken soup, ...more
Richard West
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book, seen through the eyes of a 12 year old narrator, Michael, who is convincingly portrayed as sensitive outsider, trying to make sense of events that unfurl around him as he witnesses, what he believes, to be the murder of a neighbour. Thats the only spoiler alert - because this clever and engaging novel is part murder mystery, part coming of age novel (the dialogue reminded me of the film Boyhood), that is sad, funny and poignant with a satisfying twist and ...more
Valeria Vescina
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written and poignant novel. The voice of the first-person narrator is pitch-perfect for eleven-year-old Michael: "My wounds heal and the reporters stop calling. I know I'm not really a hero. I can't save everyone." It draws the reader close to him and his perspective; it's also an admirable 'technical' feat. Whilst the book could be read by teenagers, its themes and layers will most certainly speak to adults. The intertwined narrative arcs feature children and adults who ...more
Elizabeth Corbett
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Chicken Soup Murder is the most surprisingly, whimsical laugh aloud yet deeply affecting community come family come almost crime novel, I've read in a long while. Written from the first-person viewpoint of an almost teenage Michael. Heres how it begins:

'The day before the murder George Bull tried to poison me with a cheese sandwich.
Break time: he got me in a headlock in the playground, patted my face like he was being friendly, smiled for the cameras and said, 'Why don't you and me have a
Rubery Book Award
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rubery Prize Shortlisted 2018

A touching story, told with energy and humour. The narrator, Michael, is an eleven-year-old child, and many comic moments are derived from his naive perspective. The main mystery driving the book involves the demise of Irma, Michaels next-door neighbour, and the significance of what Michael sees through the window before she dies. Michael lives with his nan but eventually reunites with his parents. These tensions are well handled, the timing is effective, and both
Christopher Legg
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read, I enjoyed this so much, a really good page turner. I loved the characters, the sense of place and the time it was set in, all set with the backdrop of sport. This is up there with my favourite books of all time. Such a good story, with depth and layers, it crackles with emotion, throughout. The description of place, takes me back to my childhood being baby sat at my Grans and Grandads council house in Court Orchard, with the playing fields across the road, come to think of it, ...more
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
I would describe this book as gently gripping insofar as I wanted to know how it ended. It is a tale of the life and times of a 12 year old boy called Michael who lives with his Nan because his parents are in prison, or so he believes. It is set in 2012. Written from his own perspective and centres around his relationships with his Nan, his best friend and the neighbours. His neighbour dies mysteriously and he is convinced she has been murdered whilst making him chicken soup, but none of the ...more
Sandy Bennett-Haber
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The first thing to say about this book is that it is a page turner. I read it in about three sittings over three days. I got captivated early on, not just by the mystery, but also the characters. Maria Donovan brings her well paced suburban mystery to life with a large, closely knit cast of characters and keeps the reader guessing as her young narrator puzzles out new and old mysteries in his life.

Very readable and very memorable.
Mari Vaughan-owen
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well written in parts & the idea was interesting but I felt Cardiff was shoehorned in at the end. The ending unraveled & it felt rushed.
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this so much. 1st person narrative of a child but without being twee or cloying. Funny and touching account of coming to terms (or not) with grief.
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The Chicken Soup Murder is Maria Donovan's first novel and grew from a desire to see bereavement from angles other than her own. It brings a touch of humour with a child's account of what happens to the adults around him. It's also a realistic view of what he can do about an unsolved and unrecognised murder and how he and his best friend cope with loss.

Maria Donovan is from Dorset and spends

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