This sensitive first novel portrays the struggle of 16-year-old James Whit-man to overcome anxiety and depression. James blames himself for his older sister's expulsion from their home and estrangement from their bullying parents. Roskos effectively sketches James as a boy who is far more comfortable inside his own head than in connecting with others (case in point, he hugs trees to make himself feel better and seeks advice from Dr. Bird, an imaginary pigeon therapist). Throughout, James takes comfort in the poetry of Walt Whitman, often co-opting the writer's literary techniques in his narration ("I sound my morning yawp! I blast out my inner glow at the sunshine to try to shout it down. To have it lift me up. For someone, somewhere, to see me"). Friendships old and new, along with James's growing interest in his own poetry and photography, help him gain confidence and understanding, especially as he discovers unsettling secrets about his sister. Bravely facing real sorrow, James confronts his problems with grace and courage. Ages 14-up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
2013-02-04, Publishers Weekly