Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth [in Library Journal]
On her 15th birthday, Janey’s mother confesses that her thought-to-be-sperm-banked father is actually a real person still living in the southern Iowa town from which her mother escaped by going to New York City to “give her coming daughter a better life.” Janey ignores her mother’s promise to take her to meet him in a month and heads west alone. She realizes immediately upon exiting the bus that she’s made a mistake, but she stays to spite her lying mother.
By the time she finally admits defeat, tragedy strikes and leaves her miserably stuck for years. Her father urges her to apply at the local egg farm, where her boss is Cleveland, who was once babysat by Janey’s mother. The unlikely pair – now fellow coauditors – quickly recognize chicken hell, and a savior mission is hatched involving a million avian victims and dozens of vegan vigilantes.
As the quirky quixotic cast quickly grows, narrator Brittany Pressley doesn’t miss a beat, seamlessly shifting accents, ages, backgrounds, adjusting for humans and non (of course, the chickens get voices!) with energetic aplomb. Pressley adroitly balances Deb Olin Unferth’s unsettling ecoterrorist exposé with an affecting mixture of ludicrous jubilation and disturbing warning.