In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


copyright date: March 2013
primarily marketed for: young adults (high school)

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos begins “I yawp…” and ends, “Yawp!”  And if that isn’t enough to love, the middle is filled with quotes from Walt Whitman scattered amongst wise words from a pigeon therapist, and a story that is both genuinely funny and heartachingly real.  It is one of those stories that seems as if it was written simply for my own delight, but perhaps you, too, will fall in love with it.

James is a teenager who suffers from anxiety attacks and a depression that is possibly part of bipolar disorder, though no official diagnosis is named in the book.  His older sister was recently kicked out of the house by his emotionally detached parents after she is expelled from school for an outburst that resulted in a fight. 

As a means of coping with his mental state and the instability in his home life, James invents a pigeon therapist who listens to his deepest thoughts and fears.  He also finds comfort in quoting Walt Whitman, hugging trees, pursuing Beth (the adorable editor of the school literary magazine), and spending time with his only friend (who is both well-adjusted and burdened with problems of his own).

His story caused me to laugh out loud, though some of the language and humor is so mature that I will not admit which parts I found amusing.  The true strength of the story, though, is not its humor, but that it caused me bemoan the fact that this book was not around for me to have read when I was in high school and needed a story like this—a story that echoed the lives of so many of my friends. 

James is a flawed human living in a world that has no easy answers for him.  He is suicidal, his parents are oblivious at best, and although he does have supportive people in his life, the level of support he really needs is not easily accessible.  Luckily, James is the kind of person who can yawp when he needs to, and he is eventually able to save himself amidst his circumstances. 


  1. I haven't seen one of these posts in a while, or maybe I've been oblivious, Christy. The book sounds fun, and does sound great for high schoolers. I love your intro, hope a lot of your students read this.

  2. Well, you've got my attention!! I want to read this book. I've got to find out what yawp means. :)

    It sounds like a story that so many young people are living and possibly don't know they are. Any book that reaches me through laughter and tears is A-OK in my mind!

    Thanks for the recommendation.