Friday, August 21, 2015

Dr Bird's Advice for Sad Poets

By: Evan Roskos
Location: Fic Ros
Genre: Youth Fiction- mental illness
POV: Teenage male

We have had a bad week in the Waikato as we have faced the trauma of the impact of youth depression, perhaps book like this can help!

It is a book about depression but it's not that depressing! 

For a year, I've been seeing an imaginary therapist. Her name is Dr. Bird. She is a large pigeon, human-size. She wears no clothes. Because she's a bird.

Don’t you just love it when you open a book and it draws you in so completely that you’re loathe to close it for any reason? Evan Roskos has written such a book. The characters and pacing grab the reader and don’t let go. 

“I hate myself but I love Walt Whitman, the kook. Always positive. I need to be more positive, so I wake myself up every morning with a song of myself.” 
 Sixteen-year-old James Whitman shares a last name with his poetic inspiration Walt Whitman and enjoys Songs of Myself, hugging trees for their therapeutic value, and yawping. James Whitman yawps all day long if only to save his sanity. He sees things that most people are blind to, and has an imaginary therapist manifested as a pigeon. 

James Whitman suffers from crippling panic attacks and depression, which is understandable in the house he lives in. His parents are distant and sometimes cruel, and his sister is banned from the household for a mysterious offense she committed. When James realizes he must take his mental health into his own hands, he finds a job at a pizza parlor to pay for (real) therapy and begins casually interrogating everyone at his high school to find out what happened to his sister. Along the way he develops a crush on a classmate named Beth - an aspiring journalist, and saves his best friend, Derek, from a dangerous affair with an older, slightly pedophilic lady. 

There is real sincerity in this story. The author handles the issues of depression and self harm. These days, television, internet memes, and tumblr all tend to glamorize anxiety and depression. But this book paints a character that is cheerful and endearing, but truly struggling to endure each day. James suffers long nights of pacing his room and sweating out his parent's arguments, and days where he flees social situations to recuperate with his arms around a tree. He suffers guilt for letting his sister take his punches loneliness at her absence. 

But despite the heaviness that James carries, his voice is unique and lovable. especially the way he deals with girls, parties, alcohol, pizzas, and his imaginary therapist, Dr. Bird. And, of course, the yawps. 

"I chitter at squirrels who celebrate themselves." 

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