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Literature / Chicken Soup for the Soul

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First Edition cover, circa 1993.

A long time ago, in 1993, Chicken Soup for the Soul, an anthology of stories compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, was published. They chose the included tales based on their inspirational and motivational value, and they chose the book's title for the reputation of chicken soup as a rejuvenating home remedy for various ills and for the desire to market the book as comfort food for the human spirit. Chicken Soup for the Soul was a great success to the point where it became the #1 New York Times bestseller. Its popularity then inspired multiple spin-off anthologies, all listed on an entire page, courtesy of The Other Wiki.


This series contains examples of:

  • Always with You: A heartbreaking story told has a woman talking about her teenage son Michael, who had committed suicide after his girlfriend left him to marry someone else. After she, his father and his older brother arrived only minutes after he took his life, they found his suicide note that said how much he loved them, to not blame themselves and that he'll always be with them.
  • Beautiful All Along: A lot of contributors write about this.
  • Broken Ace: One story from one of the Teenage Soul editions had a girl whose best friend was a beautiful, talented, intelligent and popular girl who had so much going for her and had many people look up to her. It eventually comes out that the girl was suffering from loneliness, depression, was experimenting with drugs and became more promiscuous, none of which the best friend knew about until reading the girl's journal after committing suicide. She also learned that she was being molested by her father for several years (and why she was a frequent visitor at the girlfriend's home) and feeling she had no where to go and could not escape it, she did what she did.
  • Darker and Edgier: Several books focus on harsher topics, such as Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Tough Stuff.
  • Determinator: The young man, Mike, from "Hero of the 'Hood" was born to an abusive father and a drug-addicted and neglectful mother. After the father died when he and his younger siblings were children, they became impoverished, the mother brought home a string of abusive boyfriends from who she kept having babies with and he had to resort to dealing drugs to earn money. To make a long story short, he was eventually able to get a respectable job, go back to school, became a youth counselor to help children avoid his mistakes and his maternal grandparents (who he more or less shielded many of the horrors of their lives from them due to their advancing ages and ill health) were able to help to raise him and his siblings.
  • Driven to Suicide: A great many of the contributors, but given that they survived to write about it, they are usually...
    • Happily Failed Suicide
    • Interrupted Suicide: The most heartbreaking has to be of a teenage girl that was going to overdose herself with pills following a "friend" cyberbullying her online, but her mother called and asked what kind of sandals she wanted.
  • Drugs Are Bad: A number of stories talk about the struggles of overcoming drug addiction.
  • Empty Bedroom Grieving: One Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul story had a teenage girl who was abandoned by her mother due to her catering business being more important to her than her husband and two children. After she left, the girl went into her parents' room and specifically her mother's closet, and wrapped herself up in some of her left-behind clothing.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: This happens to one boy in a story after his friend recklessly plays with his dad's gun, not realizing it was loaded.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: A lot of the stories are inspirational memoirs written by disabled people, or by people without disabilities who were taught a Very Special Lesson by a disabled person.
  • Karma Houdini: The Forgiveness edition has more than one instance of someone getting away with their crimes. Then they would have to learn how to forgive the assaulted in question:
    • One couple lost their son to an assailant that stabbed him multiple times. He was acquitted on charges of self-defense. They were having trouble dealing with the emotional aftermath.
    • In another case, a boy named Ben barely survived the assault on him, with infections. Police never brought charges against the assailants because his attackers had good connections and city hall didn't want to ruin the "boys who had good families".
    • Another man, Russell Weller, who was recklessly driving plowed into a crowd of people, including the OP who suffered permanent injuries. He would have been sentenced to jail, but the government deemed that if he was ill and in his nineties, with the burden of his healthcare falling on the taxpayers. His family ended up caring for him in his last days, ensuring he passed on comfortably.
    • Another story has the OP and her husband trying to forgive the caregiver who violently shook their infant son, leaving him with severe and permanent damage as well as their relatively light sentence.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Quite a few stories involve children being bullied by their fellow students:
    • One story from The Teenage Soul: Tough Stuff featured a woman recounting how she and her classmates bullied a new Black student in her childhood over her poetry. This included leaving rude and mocking messages in her food, continuing to bully her even through her increasingly repeated absences from school and when the girl invited the author over to her house, it was just a joke with her going over not out of friendship, but so she can get dirt on her to take back to her friends. Upon the mother of the girl realizing what she was doing and she calling the girl out on this, she removes the girl fron the school and the classmates later learn shortly after that she suffered a nervous breakdown.
    • Another story from the same edition had some middle-schoolers bully a new girl named Terri over being poor and unkempt and would actively verbally and physically mistreat her, even nicknaming her "Scary Terri". At one point, the author gets to know her better and learns that not only has her family suffered from poverty, but that she was an accomplished violinist, even playing it for the girl. The two girls did not become friends afterwards, but she did no longer participate in the bullying and began to learn empathy from then on.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: A "friend" that cyberbullied one teenage girl nearly to suicide tried to claim they were joking the next day, not realizing that they had nearly gotten the girl killed.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Quite a few Chicken Soup stories involve one of these.
  • Parental Incest: One story has a girl's friend committing suicide to escape her (the friend's) father repeatedly sexually abusing her, as detailed in her suicide note. Months after he's arrested, he finally confesses.
  • Parting Words Regret: One story, titled "Good Night, Dad", has a teenage boy struggle to say "I love you" to his father and ultimately, the title of the story were his last words to his father, who was killed in a construction accident the following day.
  • Teen Pregnancy: One story was written by a woman who got pregnant at 15 and gave the baby up for adoption. Another involves a teenage boy deciding to participate in True Love Waits to avoid this fate, which his parents unfortunately suffered.
  • Unstoppable Rage: One story has a section where, when the girl tells her abusive boyfriend that their relationship is over, he's described as having "went psycho" and pushing her to the ground and kicking her several times. Nobody comes to help her. The next day, she discovers an eight-inch bruise on her leg.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul a college student was ordered to stop writing by her professor, being told her work was terrible and that she'd only pass the class if she stopped writing. Time skip to a couple of years, and she tells a passing writer about this. The writer then encourages her to send a story, which ends up being published almost immediately.