'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Review: Wink

Wink is a middle-grade fiction novel that is both heartwarming and hilarious. The protagonist, Ross Malloy, is deep in the midst of the awkwardness and confusion of Year Seven. All he wants to do is draw his comics and blend in. But Ross' life suddenly changes when he is diagnosed with a rare eye cancer.

Author and illustrator, Rob Harrell, authentically conveys Ross' emotions, challenges and triumphs, through narrative and illustrations, drawing upon his own personal experiences of having a rare eye cancer as a child.

Ross' best friend, Abby, encourages him to embrace his new profile, even when he must wear a cowboy hat to school, put eye goop in his eye, or when his hair begins to fall out. Abby remains by his side, cracking jokes and making him feel that anything is bearable, as she has done ever since they met in kindergarten.

Ross is also supported by his father, stepmother and several people he meets at the centre where he undergoes radiotherapy. One of these people is Frank, a guitar playing, punk music loving, radiation therapist, who introduces Ross to a whole new world of sounds -  music that resonates with Ross, excites his mind, fills his chest and lifts him up in a way nothing else ever has. Ross is inspired to learn to play guitar and squeezes in practice between school and his cancer treatments.

Ross faces some of his toughest days when he learns that someone has been creating and spreading cruel memes about him, he gets hauled up to the Principal's office after fighting with a loud-mouthed boy in his class called Jimmy and he finds out that Abby's family are moving to another city.  Ross cannot understand why some of his other friends seem to have disappeared.

Ross faces all his challenges, with the support of those who care about him. When Ross discovers who is actually creating the memes, he comes up with a plan, and, with the help of Frank, Abby and Jimmy (an unlikely ally), Ross shows everyone that he is living his best life, no matter what any bully might try to do.

Wink would appeal to readers aged 10 and over. As an adult, I could not put it down. The characters have depth, flaws and heart. This is a superb and uplifting story.

Title: Wink
Author: Rob Harrell
Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, $19.99
Publication Date: 23 March 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781460758878
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction