Growing up isn't easy. But in this collection of stories by John Owens, childhood is a hilarious, insightful flashback packed with joyfully offbeat characters and you-can't-make-this-up experiences. At the same time, the book explores the disturbing frailty of the American Dream and how it can devastate families. Author of the critically-acclaimed bestseller "Confessions of a Bad Teacher," John takes readers to his own youth in suburban Long Island. With his quirky family and his own odd-ball fat-kid-ADHD personality, it is a world of eating raw Duncan Hines cake mixes and begrudgingly collecting pennies for UNICEF, as well as watered-down soup, hand-me-down square-dancing boots, pocket-sized false teeth, and, yes, chickens. Lots and lots of chickens. John's youthful turn at poultry farming, along with other peculiar exploits both in and out of the backyard, taught the author many valuable life lessons, with which readers will readily identify. Wrapped in all of these laugh-out-loud adventures is family tragedy and pain. In all, "Chickens Are Not Pets" is a brutally honest and soul-baring celebration of childhood. Not just John's, but the reader's, too.