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Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets

By: Evan Roskos

Released: March, 2013 by Harcourt Brace and Company

Length: 320 Pages

Genre: YA realistic contemporary-mental illness: anxiety, depression, cutting

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: Gift

 

James Whitman may not be Walt Whitman, but wishes he was. It’s better than being 16, living with a Brute and a Banshee for parents; as well as having your older sister kicked out of the house for a reason not so clear, Then there’s the depression and anxiety; plus, a pigeon for a therapist. Yes, being Walt may be better, but then this novel wouldn’t be so heartbreaking and funny; or touching and true to life.

Sixteen year old James Whitman is struggling. His older sister just got kicked out by his parents, the Brute and the Banshee. He doesn’t have many friends. His depression and anxiety is getting worse; his therapist Dr. Bird can only say so much. He’s determined to get his sister back into school after she was expelled for a reason unknown to him; and, back under the same roof. The truth he discovers is not what he expected at all. His sister was struggling much worse than he ever knew. When asked by his crush, the adorable Beth, to search for his sister’s final submission to the literary magazine, he finds out something disturbing– his sister was a cutter. Her piece had become more private and focused on her cutting with pieces of razor blades attached.

This new information, and a budding friendship with Beth, takes James on a new journey of self-discovery and what is truly going on in his life that he has ignored. It is at times heart breaking, other times funny, endearing, and sometimes sweet and inspiring. It’s a touching story about growing up and about family; being there for them and what it means to be a family.

I loved this story. I have wanted to read this book since it came out last year, but never got around to it. I’m glad I finally did. Here’s my plug. For the Nook (that’s what I have. I’m anti-kindle) it is $1.99. It is worth it. A quick read, it really affected me. There was raw honesty, great character development, the plot was entertaining and engaging, and it leaves you satisfied. I highly recommend it. It didn’t feel just like another YA book. It was very realistic; and, I think even adults would benefit from reading it. You get a sense of how hard High School can be, the effects and causes of self-mutilation (all which is very real in the book), and the reality that teens can get depression and anxiety. Some people brush it off as just puberty, but it’s real. Roskos does a nice job not being too clinical about it or bashing us in the head with it. It was all done very nicely. There is also a lot of poetry by Whitman which was really good. I enjoyed reading poems of his that I didn’t know. Overall, I believe it’s a book that should be read. Especially by teens. But, it’s just so universal, I think. And, who wants to miss out reading sessions between a pigeon therapist and James?

Happy reading!

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