Wink by Rob Harrell is an Intermediate Nutmeg nominee, and the most recent of three books finished during my December break.
Ross is a seventh grader who strives for normalcy and not standing out, but this becomes impossible once he finds out that he has a rare, cancerous tumor near his eye. The book follows his journey from his diagnosis through his treatment. All the while he meets some interesting people who make a major impact on his life, while finding out who his true friends really are.
His radiation technician introduces him to rock music, and begins teaching him how to play guitar. Meanwhile, his best friend Abby is supportive while their friend Isaac completely ghosts them. Ross faces undesired attention once he has to start wearing a hat, rubbing “goop” on his damaged skin, and losing his hair. The attention turns negative when someone begins circulating cruel memes about his situation.
Events build toward the big school talent show before their December break, in which Ross will perform alongside Abby and unexpected new friend (former bully) Jimmy. This event is momentous as it marks the end of Ross’s treatment and Abby moving away.
This story is full of raw emotion and fun additions in the form of Ross’s sketches and “BatPig” comics throughout.