Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I yawp most mornings to irritate my father, the Brute.
Sixteen-year-old James Whitman finds his daily courage by yawping like Walt Whitman (no relation, as James will tell you) and reflecting on the poet's words for comfort. James's fractured home life is almost too much to bear, especially since James is drowning in his own brutal depression. But Whitman's philosophy provides comfort, as does a make-believe therapist named Dr. Bird. James attempts to bring order to his unsettled life by finding the reason behind his older sister's expulsion from school and their broken home.
DR. BIRD'S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS deals with weighty issues, yet the story reads with a positive glow. The possibility of a better future may be currently out of reach. But there is a glimmer on the horizon. I found comfort in James's thoughts and point of view. Yes, he's an awkward teen with dire struggles, but his sadness is wrapped in hope, humorous observations, and wry wit. I admire Evan Roskos's skill in pulling off this amazing balancing act.
This story is an important one for teens. First, there is no white-washing of mental health issues here. Depression is presented as an ongoing struggle; one that can be fought with multiple weapons including therapy, medication, communication, and friendship. But there is also a message that all book lovers can identify with--reading is a therapy that is accessible to everyone. Teens may not struggle with depression, but life is a challenge of its own. Finding comfort--and even answers--in written words can be a life-saving skill. And to that insight, I say, "Yawp!"
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