Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Summary: “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 he kicked his beloved older sister, Jorie, out of the house. James’s painful struggle with anxiety and depression—along with his ongoing quest to understand what led to his self-destructive sister’s exile—make for a heart-rending read, but his wild, exuberant Whitmanization of the world and keen sense of humor keep this emotionally charged debut novel buoyant.
My Favorite Lines:
“Or maybe I’m just projecting. I’m probably projecting. I’m a projector. For example: The world is not terrible. I just keep thinking it is.”
“When I hug trees, the bark marks my cheek and reminds me I’m alive. Or that my nervous system is still intact. The trees breathe all the time and no one really notices. They take in the air we choke on. They live and die in silence. So I hug them. Someone should.”
Why I Loved It: Let me first say that there was no way that I wasn't going to be reading this book if only because Jesse Andrews and Nina LaCour were on the cover supporting the book. Both are incredible authors, and I love finding anything similiar to their style of writing. Let me tell you this. Evan Roskos is definitely one of those authors. His debut book was amazing, and I sincerely enjoyed every minute of reading his book.
James is living in a not so great family environment and living with pretty severe depression. The person he talked to about things was his sister, Jorie, and a few months ago she was kicked out of the house. He enjoys reading Walt Whitman, quoting Walt Whitman, hugging trees, and talking to his imaginary pigeon of a therapist, Dr. Bird. He has one good friend at school, Derek. The story that Mr. Roskos unravels is powerful and and perceptive and papable with strong emotion. I could feel and sense the honesty leaping from the pages. The writing is raw and real and incredibly gripping. The book will go from heartbreaking to quite funny. It sums up the existence of living as a teen with a spectrum of emotions right after another. There is such a beauty in that.
For me, James was probably one of my favorite characters I have met. Like in John Green's books, his character is perfect in his imperfections. He is sincerly honest and truthful in his feelings. He has issues. He knows it. His quirks are beyond interesting, but I fully relate to that feeling of needing to do things to feel alive. We all do at times. We just may not be as honest about it. As a Whitman fan, he has a tendency towards the poetic, but he never verved from seeming like a teenage boy. He got things about himself like that he needed some help. And then at times, he was completely oblivious to things happening around him. Mr. Roskos kept him as a character that anyone could meet in a school today. He was a teenage boy to the core like his thoughts about looking down a girl's shirt. I'm incredibly astounded by the indepth and fabulously intricate character development in this story. Not only is James so well developed that I felt I truly knew him, but the secondary characters were also astonishly suberbly developed. How is this his first novel? I was truly blown away.
Of course, I must delve a little further into the pigeon of a therapist. Dr. Bird lives inside himself, but it was a truly interesting aspect of the story. I seriously pictured a life size pigeon with classes pertched on her nose, tilting her head to listen to his problems. It was such an awesome visual to throw into the story. It made this book stand out even more.
James is definitely the center of the story. There is no happily ever after, but the story moves forward as James finds people around him that he can connect with. As his isolation wanes, he starts to truly celebrate who he is and the choices he has in front of him. There's not a change necessarily. He just comes to understand himself more, to connect with others, and to grow despite his unfriendly surroundings.
Filled with humourous moments that ranged from juvenile and a tad dark, this book is so well thought out and explores not only depression but also being a teenager. The writing is truly beautiful and poetic and absurd at times. It all blended together to form one of the best books I've ever read. I'm so excited to see this growing trend with strong male POV that are great novels. I'd dare anyone to read it and tell me that there is no value in Young Adult literature. It is a book truly worthy of a good YAWP.
Low Points: I have none to mention.
High Points: The book was strongly well-written and very perceptive in dealing with teenage depression. While it was not exactly anti-medicating, it did bring out that medicating is a choice and that there are valid concerns about being medicated. Strong character development.
Teacher's Points: There is some strong language, some drug use, underage drinking, and his friend Derek is having an affair with an engaged woman and there is some references to their sex life.
Who Should Read It: Fans of John Green, Jesse Andrews, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and other contemporary that focuses on serious issues.
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