Wink by Rob Harrell

From TheBookbag
Revision as of 13:17, 31 March 2020 by Sue (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigationJump to search

Wink by Rob Harrell

Buy Wink by Rob Harrell at or

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A dark subject, but sensitively told with some lovely, humourous moments. It looks at the difficulties all children face at school, not just those specific to Ross, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2020
Publisher: Hot Key Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781471409141

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram

When Ross is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, aged 12, his desperate attempts at school to just be 'normal' become impossible. Suddenly he is the cancer kid, and everything he does, how he looks, and how he behaves falls under the scrutiny of the other kids in school. Ross is, understandably, angry. He is facing potential blindness, whilst dealing with an eye sealed in a permanent wink. He has gloopy eye medicine to try to help with the pain, plus the need to wear a hat at all times to protect his face due to the ongoing treatment. With the sudden ghosting by one of his best friends, and a series of horrible memes that someone at school creates about Ross, nothing about his life is normal any more, and he has to find new ways to deal with his feelings, and survive.

One way Ross finds to cope with his turbulent emotions is through music. One of the technicians managing his treatments introduces him to some new genres of music and then teaches him how to play the guitar. Ross is inspired, finding a release and freedom through music that he struggles to find anywhere else. He ends up in a band, alongside his other best friend, Abi, and a misunderstood bully. There are, as you'd imagine, some very dark moments through the book. But the way the story is told means as a reader it's never so dreadful that it overwhelms you. But still, the story doesn't shy away from the horror of Ross' situation. It's incredibly realistic, probably because it is based on the author's own experience of having cancer.

The bullying aspect is well-handled. The speed of the memes travelling around the school is terrifying and demonstrates the sort of situations some children can find themselves facing. That Ross must face this, too, as well as his cancer treatments is awful. Whilst he has the support of his friend Abi, it's all too easy to identify with his feelings, and how difficult it is for him to face everyone in the school after images of him with the grim reaper do the rounds. I really liked the way this aspect of the story was told, and how the truth of the memes unfolds.

Through the book there are a series of cartoon panels, drawn by Ross, illustrating the adventures of Batpig, who turns incidents in Ross' life into moments of comedy. They're fun to read, and will appeal to children who are moving on from books like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Tom Gates. They may seem a little unnecessary to some readers, but I liked them.

I think the only thing I didn't really like about the book was the depiction of Ross' relationship with his step-mother. His mother died when he was very young, and I felt the portrayal of his step-mother was a little mixed. I was never sure if we were supposed to like her or despise her. Perhaps the implication was that Ross' own feelings about her were confused. It's only a small point, really, and overall the book, and the characters within it, are really well created. Abi is a particularly good character, and her friendship with Ross is brilliantly written. I especially love when they fall out, for all the raw honesty, and how wonderful it is when they make up again.

The finale to the book is honest and emotional. It was one of those stories I raced through, and it felt like a very satisfying read, watching Ross go through so much, and grow as a person throughout the story.

Further reading: You might also like to try Wonder by R J Palacio.

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy Wink by Rob Harrell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wink by Rob Harrell at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Wink by Rob Harrell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wink by Rob Harrell at

Wink by Rob Harrell Check prices, read reviews or buy from Waterstones. Waterstones currently charges from £2.75 for orders under £20, over which delivery is free. You may also click and collect from a Waterstones bookshop at no charge.


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.