Love and Hot Chicken: A Delicious Southern Novel (Hardcover)

Love and Hot Chicken: A Delicious Southern Novel By Mary Liza Hartong Cover Image

Love and Hot Chicken: A Delicious Southern Novel (Hardcover)


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"Delightful! This novel will open your heart and preach to your funny bone."--Jill Conner Browne, New York Times bestselling author of the Sweet Potato Queen's Book of Love

The debut of a dynamite new voice from the South, Love and Hot Chicken is a spicy and hilarious Tennessee story about family, friendship, fried chicken, and two girls in love.

The Chickie Shak is something of a historical landmark. Red clapboard walls, thriving wasp population, yard-toilets resplendent with sunflowers. My best friend Lee Ray and I used to come after our softball games and snag a picnic table while our mammas ordered the home team special. Truth is, most people around here order the same thing until the day somebody throws their ashes off a roller coaster at Dollywood. The line snakes around the building as far as you can see, the grimiest bunch of Jessies, Pearls, and Scooters you ever did behold, hobnobbing in the parking lot from noon until night.

When PJ Spoon returns home for her beloved daddy’s funeral, she doesn’t expect to stick around. Why abandon her PhD program at Vanderbilt for the humble charms of her hometown, Pennywhistle, Tennessee? Mamma’s broken heart, that’s why. But truth be told, PJ’s own heart ain’t doing too good either. She impulsively takes a job as a fry cook at Pennywhistle’s beloved Chickie Shak, where locals gather for Nashville-style hot chicken. It may not be glamorous, but it’s something to do.

Fate shakes up PJ’s life again when the town rallies around the terribly retro and terribly fun Hot Chicken Pageant. PJ finally notices her cute redheaded coworker Boof, a singer-songwriter with a talent as striking as her curly hair, and learns to fear her smack-talking manager, Linda.

As PJ and Boof fall for each other, Boof’s search for her birth mother—a Pennywhistle native—catapults the budding couple into a mystery that might be better left unsolved. The Chickie Shak pageant takes off, spurring old rivalries and new friendships in this tale of unexpected connections and new beginnings.

Mary Liza Hartong lives and writes in her hometown of Nashville. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She also holds a master's from Dartmouth in Creative Writing and a master's from the University College Cork in British and American Literature via Fulbright grant. Mary Liza is the aunt of five boisterous nieces and a proud member of the queer community. When she's not writing, you can find her combing yard sales for treasures with her fiancée, Bridget. Love and Hot Chicken is her first novel.

Product Details ISBN: 9780063304796
ISBN-10: 0063304791
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 20th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English

“Hartong’s genuine comedic gift makes PJ’s story well placed to become a beach-read hit.”Publishers Weekly

"An uproarious and understated story of family, friendship, and romance set in the neon-lit haze of a Southern chicken shack. By turns hilarious, sad, and introspective, this cross between Steel Magnolias and Gilmore Girls will appeal to anyone who has searched for answers about life and how to live it in a plate of fried chicken." — Kirkus Reviews

"Looking for some southern comfort? Looking no further...It’s the perfect heartwarming story." — Dallas Voice

"Delightful! This novel will open your heart and preach to your funny bone." — Jill Conner Browne, New York Times bestselling author of The Sweet Potato Queen's Book of Love

“With a large helping of Southern humor, this debut is a heartfelt but not maudlin look at moving on in grief. Throw in charming secondary characters, a quirky small town, a lovely slow-burn romance, and an endearing main character and you have the perfect recipe for fans of Fannie Flagg and Mary Kay Andrews.” — Booklist