by Evan Roskos
James is trying to stay positive. He’s letting the positive influence of Walt Whitman guide his through his day. He starts with a YAWP and, maybe, a poem or two as he does his best to avoid his parents, survive the awkwardness of school and girls, and try to keep his anxieties and worries in check.
At the top of his anxiety list is trying to get his sister, Jorie, reinstated to school and their house. But as he starts to look at why she was expelled, new mysteries arise.
I so enjoyed this book. It’s tragic and heartwarming and heartbreaking and lovely all rolled into one gorgeously-covered package.
It would be a total error on my part not to mostly spend this post gushing about how much I loved James’ voice. How it showed his strengths and weaknesses, as well as his wholehearted attempt (with both the success of, and failure) to embrace a Whitman lifestyle.
I loved his friendship with Derek. And Beth. I loved how he wanted to help Jorie, out of both selfish desires and guilt. I also loved how he knew Jorie as a younger brother knows his older sister – and that the actual discovery of a few of Jorie’s secrets shocked him, but didn’t push him away.
I loved that he had a real therapist (that he paid for. himself.) and an imaginary bird therapist (The Dr. Bird of the title). I loved that he hugged trees. And took photographs with real film.
And I loved the Whitman piece. The last chapter made me want shout – er, YAWP! – with joy. BUT my knowledge of Whitman is actually quite narrow (think your basic Dead Poet’s Society references), so I’m not the best person to judge how well Roskos did bringing Whitman into the story. But it worked for me!