FICTION

Wink

Penguin. Mar. 2020. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781984815149.
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Gr 3-6–Ross Maloy is a middle schooler with bigger problems than most. Diagnosed with a rare eye tumor, he is challenged to maintain normalcy despite taxing cancer treatments. Afraid of pity, Ross also fears losing his close friends Abby and Isaac. Ross’s alter ego is Batpig, a character in his comic where he takes refuge from health challenges, relationship problems, anonymous trolls, and hurtful internet memes. He befriends a medical technician who is also a musician, and soon is motivated to learn guitar and perform in a band. The story’s beauty lies in how Ross’s life unfolds and opens. He forms a ragtag group of friends while undergoing monumental challenges. In response to Ross’s cry for normalcy, one close friend, Jerry, says normal shouldn’t be the goal: “Different moves the needle. Different is where the good stuff happens. There’s strength in different.”
VERDICT This title is delightfully good and different. Readers will be interested to know that Harrell draws from his personal experience. There are witty comic panels and other art interspersed throughout the text. Highly recommended.

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