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Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,779 ratings  ·  528 reviews
In this often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking but always hopeful young adult novel, 16 year old James Whitman is trying to navigate high school and a tough home life while wrestling with depression and anxiety. James recites Walt Whitman, hugs trees, talks to an imaginary bird therapist and tries to figure out why his sister Jorie has been kicked out of school and out o ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin
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Raven137 nope, there is no second book sorry, he does have one other book, but it's not well known and I know nothing about it.…morenope, there is no second book sorry, he does have one other book, but it's not well known and I know nothing about it.(less)
Rebecca I've never read 13 reasons why, but I also love John Green. I think this novel was reminiscent of him. I wouldn't call the main character witty, exact…moreI've never read 13 reasons why, but I also love John Green. I think this novel was reminiscent of him. I wouldn't call the main character witty, exactly, but he is kind of vulnerable but also positive, similar to the characters in John Green's first few books (less)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2013, ya
Evan Roskos' debut novel tells the anything-but-sweet story of a 16-year-old suffering from depression and with good reason. His older sister has been kicked out of the house. The twin terrors that are his parents (nicknamed "The Brute" and "The Banshee") are physically and mentally painful to be around. And high school? Well, the brick factories we call "schools" are never ideal environments for sensitive souls like James Whitman, a distraught kid whose only joy is memorizing his namesake's poe ...more
Cal Armistead
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those books you finish reading, close the cover, and gaze at fondly, as if at a good friend. (Cheesy, but I can't help. it.) James Whitman is a character that we all would love to be friends with, because he's real, he's sensitive, he's smart, and even though he is dealing with a whole lot in his life, he has a wicked sense of humor and makes us laugh. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary realistic fiction. The Walt Whitman references are excellent as well, a ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of YA fiction, mainly because I believe that the anxiety, self-consciousness, and self-loathing that begin in adolescence never really go away and, for some of us, may actually increase over time. For these reasons, this book is right in my wheelhouse. What's new to me, though, is YA from a teenage male's point of view. Most of the YA books I read are by women, about girls, and any YA book that I've read with a male character has tended to fall more in the fantasy or sci-fi genres ...more
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few weeks ago, we were discussing constructions of masculine identity in children’s literature. We had read an article by the fantastic Perry Nodelman about the stereotypes applied to men and boys where their masculinity is concerned. These stereotypes were collected under headings such as “phallic masculinity” and “group masculinity.” To cut a long winded ramble short, it was an interesting read and if you want the name of the article, ask me.

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets constructs masculi
Gray Cox
nope. nope. nope. nope. nope.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James's sister Jorie got kicked out of the house after she was expelled from school. Now he doesn't know where she is or how to get in touch with her, and he needs to talk with her because he needs to connect with someone who completely understands what's going on.

When the girl James is crushing on asks him to help her locate Jorie's poetry for submission to the school literary journal, he's torn. He doesn't want to go through her things, but he does want to have Beth's attention. Plus, it could
Do you ever just randomly pick up a book without knowing much about it and it's just the perfect thing for your life? Well that's what happened for me. I wandered into the bookstore with the goal of just getting a coffee but then Dr Bird's caught my eye. I had no idea what it was about, but I saw the blurbs from Matthew Quick and Jesse Andrews and thought "I need to read this".

Turns out Dr. Bird's is about a boy with depression and anxiety. The synchronicity is rather freaky because I've suspec
Jan 15, 2013 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Roskos, E. (2013). Dr. Bird's advice for sad poets. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 310 pp. ISBN: 978-0-547-92853-1. (Hardcover); $16.99.

Fans of Vizzini's Kind of a Funny Story will appreciate this Yawping fine look at mental health. Unlike Vizzini's book, however, readers see a young man, James Whitman, scrambling to figure out ways to pay for the therapy his dysfunctional father (and others) think is a waste of money. James battles depression by reading Walt Whitman poetry. The text has echoes of S
Rachele Alpine
As a HS English teacher and lover of Walt Whitman, I can’t express how much I loved this book. It tackles some tough subjects but never ever does it in a way that feels preachy or clinical. Roskos’ writing is honest and authentic; it makes the reader want to follow James on his journey and root for him.

I’m always looking for a good book that addresses depression in a realistic way and is relatable to students. This book does both of those things. The main character, James, deals with thoughts an
Erin Bowman
DR. BIRD’S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS was a wonderful, refreshing surprise. James Whitman is battling depression. His abusive father has just kicked James’s older sister, Jorie, out of the house when she’s expelled from school, and when he refuses to pay for James to see a therapist, James finds his own manners of coping. Mainly, talking to a pigeon outside his window (Dr. Bird), quoting Walt Whitman, and hugging trees. As James tries to make sense of Jorie’s fate, he realizes he may share many of his ...more
Actual rating: 4.35 stars
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.

This is the type of person James Whitman is. He hugs trees and talks to Dr. Bird when he's feeling depressed. He is the type of person who memorizes Walt Whitman, likes to yawp, and risks his life to save injured animals from buses, even though sometimes those animals turn out to be Tastykake wrappers, and he turns o
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew that I would enjoy Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets so I don't really have an excuse as to why it's taken me so long to finally sit down and read this book. But I am so, so glad that I finally did take the plunge.

I loved following James, a teen who is trying to put the pieces together and cope with his sister being both expelled from school and kicked out of the house. On top of that, he's got his own issues and seeing this all play out with the help of Walt Whitman and James's imaginary t
Kathryn Kopple
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was very happy to be given the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Evan Roskos' Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets (due out in 2013). James Whitman (the protagonist) is truly a character anyone can believe in, understand, laugh along with-because the humor is great (Roskos knows how to use humor to create sympathetic characters without making a caricature of their struggles; instead their jokes, banter, spats, and retorts make them seem all the more human.) James may be in high school but he ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evan Roskos's debut novel is a strange, brilliant creation. Walt Whitman-obsessed James Whitman has depression. He needs therapy, and not just from the imaginary bird therapist in his head. But his distant, angry parents are unlikely to help him seek medical attention and his older sister was recently kicked out.

DR. BIRD'S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS could be a very dreary, painful book. But it's quite funny and hopeful. James is a fairly normal teenage boy, albeit a little weird about the environment.
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'
I thought Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets was an OK read, but nothing too special. This story about sixteen-year-old James Whitman, who has anxieties, a depression and an abusive father, is very slow paced. I felt like nothing really happened.. The characters are also a bit flat, maybe because the main character is very self absorbed.

In Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets are a lot of references, for example to Twilight and Lady Gaga. Normally I like those references in a book, but this time I felt
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't have spoilers, but if you consider character analysis as spoilers then skip my review.

It's quite established that I'm in love with young adult novels about mental health. Because simply said, I relate, I feel, I know, I understand.
I've read more than 10 books in this genre so safe to say this one made me feel different than the rest. It captured my experience more than any other. A good amount points are similar between me and James.

1) he notices details, things even people don't notice
Perly Inez
''I look around the cafeteria. I wonder how many people in the room would say that I should just think happy thoughts or get organized or decide on a college and career. I wonder how many of them cut themselves. I see girls laughing with guys. I see guys moody and alone. I see girls checking their faces in small mirrors. I see girls not eating. I see guys waving around iced teas as they tell dynamic jokes. I see teachers mope through the room. I see the cashier and the food service ladies smile ...more
Melissa Frye
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

“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 has been yawping (à la Whitman) at his abusive father ever since
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Perks of Being A Wallflower crowd.
This book was so incredibly refreshing and unlike any YA book I've read in awhile.

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
James Whitman (no relation to poet Walt Whitman, whom he adores) has been struggling ever since his abusive father kicked his older sister Jorie out of the house. His struggle with depression and anxiety is made even worse by his parents' refusal to pay for therapy. He tries to go forward (and let out Walt Whitman-like YAWPs while doing so) by getting a job, working on a literary mag, and making an effort to see his sister, but he gets caught up and bogged down in the details of his sister's exp ...more
Kit Grindstaff
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Whitman is a troubled teen whose way of dealing with a dreadful home life isn't to head down some slippery slope of self-destruction, but to hug trees, find solace in the poetry of Walt (namesake) Whitman - and to get advice from his Inner Therapist, who happens to be...a bird.

Dr. Bird, an invention born of James's angst, is a big part of what makes him such a lovable character. His first-person narrative is full of brilliant flashes of humor, which on the surface of it, soften the pain o
Wren (fablesandwren)

I liked the premise of this book well enough: a boy who deals with anxiety and depression who is going through high school and family issues. But was it an enjoyable read?

It was enjoyable enough that I pushed through it with little ease. The writing style is what got me. I didn't like the writing. It felt way too young for me. I know "well it's young adult" but I felt like it was "younger adult" which is fine, I guess.

Really I skimmed over a few pages because I kind of got the idea of so
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets has several things going for it. It's main character, James Whitman, seems tailor-made for me. He's a sensitive, awkward, neurotic teenager with some inner demons, and a love for the poetry of Walt Whitman. The book is littered with shameless Whitman quotes (yes!) and dotted with James' own barbaric yawp, complete with exclamation marks!

I believe it will be a hard sell for the majority of my students, though. While the characterization is solid, the plot sort of m
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about 16 year old James Whitman who is severely depressed and anxious. His sister was recently expelled from school and kicked out of the house and his parents seem abusive. (I say seem abusive because it's hard to tell if they actually are or, if James has just escalated the situation in his brain.) James spends the entirety of the book trying to fix himself and find answers to why his sister was expelled and a way to get her back into school.

The story basically revolves around
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Whoa that was heavy. Roskos basically held my hand and walked me (pulled me? dragged me?) back through a few years of my life that up until now seemed very, very distant. Thanks, I guess? I hope this book serves a different kind of purpose for others who read it (hopefully teens...of course because that is the intended audience, right?). I don't know what that purpose will be, but I hope it's positive and entertaining and interesting and eye-opening and funny. This book has all those elements, b ...more
Victoria Scott
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely outstanding read! Roskos didn't hold back while writing this story, and that quiet confidence will pay dividends to readers for years to come. The weaving of Whitman's writing into the story was seamless, and I envied the raw, and often humorous exploration into anxiety and depression that affects not only an individual, but a family. DR. BIRD'S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS is a thoroughly entertaining read that will easily stand the test of time! ...more
This is one of the times when I note that the Goodreads star ratings refer to how much I enjoyed a book, rather than my opinion of its quality.
This is a reasonably well-written book which I did not enjoy at all. I found inside the mind of a bipolar teen male Walt Whitman fan an unhappy and highly unpleasant place to be. In particular, the main character's objectification of female classmates, while in all likelihood typical of many teenage boys, made me very uncomfortable.
I enjoyed it a lot. Really unique book!
James' anxiety and depression has worsened since his sister was kicked out of their abusive home, but he has a good friend, a girl who likes poetry as much as he does, and "Dr. Bird," an imaginary pigeon therapist. ...more
Valerie Ross
It was ok. I liked reading from James' perspective because I liked his odd outlook on life. His situation was interesting, too. However, I felt like the book didn't have a climax. There was no high point of action and for that, the ending was disappointing. I had higher hopes for James. ...more
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Evan Roskos was born and raised in New Jersey, a state often maligned for its air and politics but rightly praised for its produce. One of Narrative’s Best New Writers, Evan’s fiction has appeared in Granta’s New Voices online feature, as well as in Story Quarterly, The Hummingbird Review, and BestFiction. He earned an MFA from Rutgers University - Newark and teaches literature and writing courses ...more

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