Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets | Evan Roskos | Book Review

Evan Roskos’s young adult debut, Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets is a YAWP!-worthy book. Depicting the awkwardness of unrequited crushes, an unstable home life and mental illness, this a a book that deserves a place in school and classroom libraries. Roskos brings a unique voice to the contemporary young adult genre as he weaves the tried and true poetry of Walt Whitman, and especially Song Of Myself in with the poetry of his main character James Whitman.

Dr. Bird's Advice For Sad Poets by Evan Roskos | Good Books And Good Wine

James Whitman does not have the easiest life. His older sister Jorie was kicked out of the house by his parents. Unfortunately, his family refuses to delve into the issue further. This just serves to fuel James’s anxiety and depression. To alleviate his internal pain, James has made it his mission to get the school to allow Jorie to finish out her senior year and walk in graduation. He also wants to convince his parents to let Jorie come home. However, his parents are the abusive sort and refuse to let Jorie come back. Matters are complicated even further when James finds himself pulled into helping with the school literary journal in order to impress a girl. Thankfully, Roskos effortlessly weaves in complex themes and issues, but the plot never feels convoluted.

James Whitman is a perfect blend of gawky and earnest. He is a weird kid, but Roskos never presents him in a mocking light. You see, when James is stressed he hugs trees and he talks to an imaginary pigeon psychiatrist named Dr. Bird – hence the title. James also is quite obsessed with Walt Whitman because they share a last name. He uses poetry as a creative outlet and a way to express his internal strife. In all, I found James Whitman to be the sort of  character that I simultaneously rooted for but was also glad to not be in his situation. However, if you were or currently are an angsty and lonely teenager, chances are you will be able to relate to the main character of Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets by Evan Roskos.

It’s also important for me to mention James’s sister Jorie. Although she’s largely absent from the book – – we hear more about her than we interact with her, she’s sort of the central force behind the story. She is James’s catalyst to seek therapy and answers. Rather than turning Jorie into a cliche, she’s fascinating in that she has secrets of her own. We discover that although Jorie is the black sheep of the family, she and James have more in common than originally thought. I especially loved reading the emails and texts between Jorie and James, as she would often encourage James’s creativity.

Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets does a bang up job depicting the theme of teenage depression without being a totally buzz kill. Instead, Roskos weaves a thread of hope and humor throughout the book. We get to see different types of depression — one type that manifests in talking to imaginary things and suicidal ideation, the other sort that manifests in cutting. It is sad and hard to read about, but Roskos shows the possibility of happiness for both of the characters. Further, there are secondary characters which do add a light touch to the book as well as a positive support system.

Evan Roskos’s debut novel comes across as quite literary in style. If you are a fan of Where Things Come Back chances are you will enjoy Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets. The writing is sophisticated, but accessible. What I mean by this is that Roskos has effortlessly placed Song Of Myself within a teenage context and it does not feel awkward. I’d recommend this book to anyone with a penchant for poetry, angst, and quirky but earnest characters.

Okay, and I had to put this at the end, for the part that isn’t going into the Amazon Vine review because I try to make those seem a bit more formal and professional. So, I used to be in poetry elective and poetry club when I was in high school. What this meant was that I helped with the yearly poetry journal AND I did things like poetry slams and won an award at a competition for public speaking. #humblebrag. Anyways, I just was thinking the entire time reading this that I would have LOVED Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets as a teenager because I could relate to James and his love of Song Of Myself and his YAWP-ing. And being awkward around people I liked. And a few of the more personal things that I won’t share. Anyways, suffice to say, this legit would have been the perfect book for teenage me, and thus I really do wholeheartedly recommend it. It seems to have a sort of quiet buzz around it, but trust if you can get your hands on Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets, you absolutely should read it.

Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine

Other reviews of Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets by Evan Roskos:

Haven’t seen any in my google search of the book blogosphere, so if you review this PLEASE drop your link in the comments so I can add it up here.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I heard about this book a little over a month ago and I was so excited to read it. I haven’t yet, but I am definitely going to buy this one when it’s released.

  2. I hadn’t heard about this book until now. It sounds really great. I’m on a contemporary YA kick right now, and I have a particular fondness for debuts.

  3. I just heard about this one and instantly added it to my Goodreads TBR list. It sounds great, and it really sounds like a book that should be in schools/libraries. Thanks for the review!

    • It’s definitely worth the add – and I think a lot of kids would be into it. Especially the poetry kids/emo kids. Plus, it provides an interesting exploration of depression.

      Thank you so much for commenting. 🙂

  4. This sounds really good! I like that it’s another take on depression, and it certainly sounds like a unique one at that. Weaving the poetry in as part of the story, of the character, is definitely something I can get behind!

  5. I’ve only recently heard of this one, but it is TOTALLY up my alley! I’ve been dying to go for a poetry slam for awhile now and I cannot wait to get more literary exposure with this book. Plus, it sounds too nerdy and quirky to pass up. Great review, April! 🙂


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