Copyright 2013-2015. Courtney Anz. All rights reserved.
Young Adult Recommendation:
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, by Evan Roskos
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, is Evan Roskos’ first book and a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award of the American Library Association.
Roskos uses clever restraint and kind humor to develop the achingly believable protagonist James Whitman. A teenage boy who consults an imaginary therapy pigeon named Dr. Bird, James enjoys yawping and reciting the poetry of a famous poet with the same last name.
James doesn’t understand a lot about his life: Why is his best friend secretly dating an older, engaged woman? Why will no one at school talk to him about the day his older sister got kicked out of school? Did his father have to kick his sister out of the house when Jorie has no place to live? Why did his “Bashee” mother go along with this stupid plan?
It’s enough to make a kid seek out some imaginary and much more real therapy. Roskos endearingly retains the perfect amount of delicate humor during heart-breaking moments. James Whitman is faithful to his sister even after he discovers she has been experimenting with cutting herself and considering suicide. And when James confesses a crime to someone who went out of their way to help him, you feel like you are meeting the sage of the town whose benevolence ends up paying forward.
As James tries to unravel his sister’s mystery, he begins to unravel as well. He is a boy who cares deeply for all the special people in his life. Driven to help them, he makes a series of bad choices. James finally realizes that the only choices he can control are his. We would all yawp like Whitman if we learned this lesson a bit earlier in life.
I met Mr. Roskos at the Texas Library Association’s conference in fall 2014. A witty man with a twinkle in his eye, you can immediately tell that he will write wisely for years to come. I look forward to reading his next book!