Ross has channelled his thoughts and feelings through his drawings, creating a private Bat Pig cartoon strip. This character continues to reveal how he’s facing up to his cancer treatment. Yet Ross can no longer hide, for his cancer reveals itself clearly, first through a coin slot WINK scar and thereafter, the effects of radiation.

Ross’s self-consciousness is heightened as a young person, especially around Sarah Kennedy. Yet  when one best friend absents himself from his life, and another faces a huge upheaval, Ross discovers new strengths, channels and awareness. Maybe his interpretation of people, from Jimmy, to Sarah, needs overhauling? Could Frank’s music be a route to discovery and a huge ‘reveal’ for Ross?

WINK is an outstanding story. Ross confides himself in us so that we know his fears and hopes, and realise the terror and embarrassment he experiences. We feel as powerless as he does when he is betrayed. Maybe the writer’s own experience of cancer offers some further empathy and relevance to this story, for it is a very moving, realistic and unsentimental tale. Bookwagon is proud to share and recommend this book.



Rob Harrell

(Hot Key Books)

Ross realises WINK,  the scar caused through his treatment, resembles a coin slot, particularly after Jerry makes the comparison. Although he knows the scar and the treatment are necessary, it’s tough. While the cancer diagnosis was difficult enough to bear, the possibility of blindness and thereafter the relentless radiation, surgery, eye drops and repercussions of treatment, threaten to overwhelm him. Through all of this, he’s negotiating school where one best friend has disappeared and another has life- changing news. Thereafter, there’s the embarrassment of hats, ‘leakage’, and then the memes that circulate. While Abby says that Ross doesn’t want to ‘stand out’, he really doesn’t want to ‘stick out’. Yet, right now, he’s really standing and sticking out…
Rob Harrell has used his own experience of cancer to inform the story of Ross. We join the story as Ross begins his radiation therapy, where he takes us back through his diagnosis, surgical strategies, hospital experiences and thereafter, his treatment. Therefore, we are thoroughly invested in him, and his experience and the inner thoughts he channels through his Bat Pig cartoons.
WINK is an outstanding book for older readers that Bookwagon is proud to share and recommend.


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