Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wink” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.40  ·  Rating details ·  1,020 ratings  ·  268 reviews
A wrenching and hilarious story about embracing life's weirdness and surviving an unthinkable diagnosis, based on the author's own experience with a rare eye cancer.

Twelve-year-old Ross Maloy just wants to be normal. Not to have a rare eye cancer, not to lose his hair, not to have to wear a weird hat or have a goopy eye full of ointment. Just normal. But with a sudden and
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 31st 2020 by Hot Key Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wink, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wink

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,020 ratings  ·  268 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Wink
Mark Porton

This is a wonderful work of Young-Adult fiction about a young lad called Ross who is unlucky enough to be diagnosed with a rare form of eye Cancer. He consequently needs to attend 8 weeks of radiation therapy, which is no small thing – physically and emotionally.

Wink by Rob Harrell is a solid 4-star effort.

The first thing I noticed was, the story is so incredibly accurate. To be sure, this can be achieved by interviewing oncology patients, medical professionals and the like. But this was writt
Melanie Dulaney
I love a book that leaves me in a state that is a combination of tears, sighs of satisfaction and bit of laughter, too. Rob Harrell's semi-autobiographical middle grades novel takes the themes and heart of R. J. Palacio's Wonder and roughs it up a little with a heavier dose of very real middle school life. 7th grader Ross has a rare form of cancer and faces surgery and radical proton beam radiation therapy that may or may not save his vision or his life. His best friend Abby is hanging in there ...more
They say, write what you know. And if what you know is how to lie on a steel table, your head screwed into place, a laser pointed at your face, that might be a good place to start. We live in dark times. How dark are they? SO dark that a book about a kid with a potentially deadly eye cancer is the bit of light-hearted levity we all need and crave. And don’t get me wrong. Wink is probably one of the funniest middle grades of 2020, thanks in large part to the fact that its hero (Ross) has a cancer ...more
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The author Rob Harrell, in October 2005 was very sadly diagnosed with a cancer above his right eye. Brave Rob took his eye cancer ordeal and made It into a page turning fiction book, for young people to read and adults.

In Wink a character Ross suffers from eye cancer. The story is very educational as it takes readers through the steps of radioactive, where Ross has to wear a mesh mask with an eye hole and has to keep his eye on a Red Cross. I loved the little illustrations showing what the mesh
Rod Brown
I put this on my to-read list because I enjoyed reading Rob Harrell's Big Top comic strip back in the day. I was disappointed when it was canceled, and I never got into the generic family strip he was hired to take over afterward. I thought at first this book was an original graphic memoir by him, but it turns out to be a middle school novel full of words and fiction, though based on a true medical condition that Harrell had as an adult while producing Big Top. I remember there was a month that ...more
Ms. Yingling
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ARC provided by Follett First Look

When twelve-year-old Ross has an alarming lump above his eye, things happen quickly; his father takes him to the doctor for tests, the doctor calls back right away, and radiation is scheduled immediately. This makes it somewhat difficult to process the fact that he has a rare cancer that could cause him to lose his sight in both eyes. His dad and stepmother are very supportive, as is his best friend, Abby, and one of the radiation technicians, Frank. The treatme
Stellar audiobook production! I knew Michael Crouch would be great, as always, but it was the Batpig Comic portions of the audio with music, sound effects, and the superhero voice of Marc Thompson that surprised and delighted me most. Also, a last line that is just perfect. And, yes I did listen to the Ramones as soon as I finished this book. Set in Indiana, Batpig is a Hoosier!
Brenda Kahn
Breaking my vow to not give star ratings to give this one five. People who know me know that I am very hard on cancer books. Most are written rather lazily and they all seem to be the same. Those few that are well done, stand out for what they do different. It's too easy to write the fierce warrior battling evil cancer. It takes guts to be honest, irreverent even.

This is one of the best cancer books I've read. Heartbreaking, hilarious and utterly honest and authentic. At several points, I found
Oct 27, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A book about a kid who has cancer who’s trying to survive middle school and meets new friends and opportunities to fit in along the way.
Yup. This is for me.
Kris Patrick
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I admit to skipping the pages with Batpig comics but I’m also not an eleven year old. Loved it!! Indiana author, Indiana setting. I would read a sequel.
A boy with pain in his eye finds out he has cancer. This book follows how he tries to have a normal life and how he goes through the treatments.

I was already quite eager to read this one, so I was delighted to finally spot it a one of my libraries.

In the end this was a good/great book about a boy with eye cancer and all he experiences as things progress. We see him undergo treatments (good thing he got that second opinion because OH MAN that doctor should have taken a course on how to say news l
Anna Davidson
Gorgeous middle grade novel about family, friendship and dealing with a medical diagnosis. I love that the story features a strong lead male character who is filled with kindness and courage and is not afraid to talk about his emotions.
Phil Jensen
Aug 11, 2020 marked it as notes-on-unfinished-books  ·  review of another edition
I love the first three chapters, and I hope I get time to finish this.

Rob Harrell writes from a genuine place. All the characters feel like real people. It's hard to believe that Harrell could write this well about the medical details without experiencing them himself.

I'm about to go check the author bio to see if this was written by an actual middle schooler.

Edit: I made the time to read a few more chapters, and it lost some steam for me. The school parts were less convincing and more tropey th
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seventh grader Ross Maloy had a comfortable life with his 2 best friends Abby and Isaac until he peers into the mirror and views his eye one day, it "looked like a bullfrog's neck when they blow their necks up." He is diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer. While undergoing multiple treatments, he finds his radiation techs Callie and Frank fun and supportive. Frank is also a musician and exposes Ross to new and old artists such as the Ramones, during Ross' medical visits. Suffering from kids' ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
Ross desperately just wants to be normal, but that isn’t working out for him. After being diagnosed with a rare eye cancer, he has a permanent wink. He goes for treatments each week, making friends with an old guy who is always there as well as with one of the technicians who is desperate to improve Ross’ taste in music. Meanwhile at school, he is steadily becoming stranger as his hair starts to fall out in clumps, he has to use gloppy creams, and he starts to wear a hat all the time. He’s the o ...more
Becky B
Ross has been diagnosed with a rare eye cancer. His family has already lost his mom due to cancer, so Ross and his dad know firsthand how serious cancer can be. He's trying not to think about it too much, but radiation therapy and its side effects make forgetting the cancer pretty hard. It's especially tough in 7th grade and dealing with the way others look at him. He wasn't popular or normal at the best of times, and now he feels like the school freak show. With the help of his best friend Abby ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so pleased to read this book! I did not think I would ever rate a book about a kid with cancer going through proton radiation a 5 star. This is middle school writing perfection. The protagonist is an artist- so there are some art through-out the story. It is a great avenue for the reader to navigate how the character is processing his life. I think avid readers along with reluctant readers with enjoy this book. All the secondary characters are terrific. The son/dad talk in Chapter 35 (boul ...more
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrensbooks
Ross is having an exceptionally horrid run of bad luck. The biggest item in his bad luck streak is he has eye cancer. The prognosis is not very good. As a cancer survivor, it was a real text-to-text experience reading about the radiation treatment. Through his cancer journey, Ross learns about friendship, looking past first impressions, and working hard toward a goal. It was a notable offering of children's novels in 2020.
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story. Very easy read.
Joy Kirr
This one had it all - perfect for my seventh graders. It had chuckles, tears, anger, nods, and quotes that sounded JUST like they'd come from my students. I love the messages, and I love that they weren't shoved down my throat. The feelings evoked by Ross were real and raw.
My 13 year old son and I each read this one. It took me right back to junior high..
Friendship, the social experience that is "lunch period," angst, awkwardness, mean girls..
My son, for the record, thinks distance learning and zoom classes are an ideal way to be spending 8th grade!
I knew going into it that Wink is about a character with eye cancer, based on the author's real life experience. The fact that the cancer and treatment are charted territory for him adds a lot of merit to his handling
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I knew as soon as I read the first look of this book on Readers First that I was going to love it, so I was super excited to win a copy. This book is just amazing and everyone needs to go read it right now! It is a great mix of real and humour. It is an insanely powerful story about a young boy dealing with cancer.

The best thing about this book is its real and feels real. The book is based on the authors own experiences with a rare type of eye cancer. This is a middle grade book that can be read
Anne Slater
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm WAY beyond YA or Middle School age, but this book had such a great review in the New York Time Book Review that I Just Had to Read it.

I have never read such a carefully, delicately, honestly reproduced replication of what it is to be a 12-13 year old kid with a serious problem. An extraordinary-ordinary kid. He is smart but not a smart-ass. He has a friend who is a girl, but she's not his girl-friend. He has another friend who seems to have taken an unexplained hiatus from a deep friendship.
Theresa Grissom
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, 5th, 3rd, 4th
Great book! Anyone who has a heart will enjoy this book. Rob Harrell opened up his heart while writing this. This is very funny and informative and would also make a good read aloud in upper elementary. I love the best friend Abby in this book and wish I had a friend like her.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many things came together for me to receive an ARC of this book-- and meet the author! A friend in Massachusetts posted a picture of this in our We Love to Read Voxer group, and described how much she enjoyed it. A few days later at our Indiana Library Federation conference, a program insert mentioned that a special session was added with the author of Wink, Rob Harrell. It turns out that he lives in the Indianapolis area, not far from me. Being there for his first "official" book talk about Win ...more
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. Big fan of this one, which just came out. All Ross wants is to be a normal seventh grader. But when he is diagnosed with a rare cancerous tumor above his eye, setting into motion surgeries, treatments, and yes, losing his hair, he is anything but normal to his peers. Through the course of his radiation, he finds unlikely allies and a new passion that just may get him through. This reminded me a little bit of Jordan Sonnenblick’s books, and I am so glad to have found some good realist ...more
An open, blunt, funny look at living with cancer, with a much more punk rock ending than the saccharine assembly in Wonder.
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, potential-rimsba, ya
I laughed a whole bunch, I cried a little bit and I looked up lots of songs on Spotify.
This book needs a playlist!
Highly recommend for MG readers
D. George
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been of fan of this author for a while, and when I found out he had a new book out, I jumped on it. I didn't even know what it was about!

Turns out it's based on the author's real-life experience with a rare form of eye cancer, and I could relate as I have a number of chronic illnesses. However, this is not a memoir - it's a fictional account of 7th grader Ross, told in his voice. He learns he has cancer, and then deals with the various aspects of having an illness - doctors, treatments, the
Shaye Miller
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I’ll admit that I wasn’t really attracted to the cover, but wow did this story surprise me. In short, this book shares the very raw experiences of living with a rare eye cancer. Ross has already lost his mom to cancer and now he is facing slowly losing his vision. At the same time, he’s looking for some life-changing epiphany — in middle school. And if there’s one big truth about middle school, it’s that kids can be so cruel. There’s also a classmate named Sarah who “smells like sunshine and joy ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Fighting Words
  • One Last Shot
  • Turtle Boy
  • The Canyon's Edge
  • Prairie Lotus
  • Efrén Divided
  • The Blackbird Girls
  • When Stars Are Scattered
  • Show Me a Sign
  • The List of Things That Will Not Change
  • Before the Ever After
  • Echo Mountain
  • Black Brother, Black Brother
  • War Stories
  • We Dream of Space
  • Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
  • What Lane?
  • When You Trap a Tiger
See similar books…

Related Articles

  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
31 likes · 49 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“have been swept.” 0 likes
More quotes…