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A hilarious and heartwrenching story about surviving middle school—and an unthinkable diagnosis—while embracing life's weirdness.Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader. He...
A hilarious and heartwrenching story about surviving middle school—and an unthinkable diagnosis—while embracing life's weirdness.Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader. He...
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Description-

  • A hilarious and heartwrenching story about surviving middle school—and an unthinkable diagnosis—while embracing life's weirdness.

    Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader. He doesn't want to lose his hair, or wear a weird hat, or deal with the disappearing friends who don't know what to say to "the cancer kid." But with his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer, blending in is off the table.

    Based on Rob Harrell's real life experience, this incredibly personal and poignant novel is an unforgettable, heartbreaking, hilarious, and uplifting story of survival and finding the music, magic, and laughter in life's weirdness.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    1

    LET’S GET RADIOACTIVE

    I’m lying on a steel table, all too aware of the giant ray  gun pointed in my direction. It looks like one of those room-sized five-ton laser things supervillains use in movies. The kind they threaten to destroy the planet with.

    “What music’re you into, Ross?”

    I’m pretty sure the radiation tech is just trying to distract me as he bolts me down. A hard-plastic-mesh mask over my neck and head holds me still—they molded it to my face yesterday—and the tech struggles to click it onto the table. He scrunches his nose, pushing.

    “Oh . . . anything. Whatever,” I mumble through my teeth. The hardened mask doesn’t let my chin move much. 

    The headpiece locks in, and the tech—Frank—gives my shoulder a bump with his fist. “C’mon, man. If you’re gonna lie here for half an hour, you need some tunes. I’ve got all kinds. Name something you like. There are no wrong answers.”

    I scan my brain. “You could . . . Can you just . . . KZAQ?” 

    Frank stops and doubles over at the waist like he’s been gut-punched. He hangs there, talking to the floor. 

    “Okay . . . No wrong answers but that one.” He straightens up and winces at me. “Seriously? You like that Top Forty garbage?” 

    “It’s . . . what my parents have on all the time . . .” 

    So dorky. I try to look away casually, but my head won’t budge.

    Frank stares before letting out an exaggerated sigh. 

    Fine. But tomorrow, tell me whatyou like. Not what Mom and Dad like.” He walks over and fiddles with an old-timey boom box on a high wall shelf, next to a teetering stack of CDs and cassette tapes. 

    Seriously? There must be a gazillion dollars worth of equipment in here, and they can’t afford an MP3 player? I notice a bit of tattoo peeking out from the arm of Frank’s scrubs. A lizard tail, maybe? Or a tentacle?

    Beyoncé fills the room, and suddenly Frank is all business. “I know we went over this yesterday, but let’s review.” 

    He wraps his arms around his clipboard and begins, like he’s done this a thousand times.

    “The gurney you’re on is going to lift you up and move you into place. The treatment takes twenty-five minutes or so. Keep your limbs and naughty bits inside the ride at all times. Do not throw things at the radiation techs. Do not FEED the radiation techs. Do not waggle your legs around like a synchronized swimmer. Do not pass Go. Do not hum the Goo Goo Dolls, as I DESPISE the Goo Goo Dolls.”

    Frank steps aside to let another tech—Callie, I think—reach in and mold some blue clay over the bridge of my nose. She smiles at me and tells me it’s to protect my “good” eye from the beam. Then she pats my chest. I hope I don’t look as nervous as I feel, ’cause I feel like a rabbit in a trap. My face is hot.

    “Okay. Now for the important part.” Frank is back. “When I tell you, you’re gonna stare at the red X above you. The one we made over there by the big zapper yesterday. You’ll see it when the machine slides you over.”

    The mask prevents much of a nod, but he seems to catch it. “Don’t move your eye off of that X, or your eye’ll explode into a million pieces like the Death Star, m’kay?”

    I let out a little...

About the Author-

  • Rob Harrell created the Life of Zarf series, the graphic novel Monster on the Hill, and also writes and draws the long-running daily comic strip Adam@Home, which appears in more than 140 papers worldwide. He created and drew the internationally syndicated comic strip Big Top until 2007. He lives with his wife in Indiana.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 3, 2020
    Ross wants badly to be a normal seventh grader, but it’s not easy when everyone at school knows he has eye cancer. Besides enduring radiation treatments and their nasty side effects, he’s contending with personal questions, concerned looks, and cheerful wishes from his schoolmates. His best friend, Abby, makes him feel “like something in the world is normal,” but their other friend, Isaac, has all but vanished. When Ross’s radiation tech, Frank, turns him on to music and teaches him to play guitar, he finds an outlet for his anger and frustration and comes to see a new side to a school bully, a drum player, whose cousin lives with Frank. Harrell (the Life of Zarf series), himself a cancer survivor, offers a frank account of cancer’s effects while keeping the subject matter accessible for middle grade readers. Ross never takes himself too seriously, and amusing black-and-white comics trace his unsavory experiences, capture the ironies of his predicament, and underline his creativity and sense of humor. Told in the first person, this lively novel showcases the author’s understanding of middle school angst amid the protagonist’s experience with a serious illness. Ages 9–12.

  • AudioFile Magazine Michael Crouch's first-person narration is spot-on as Ross endures treatment for eye cancer, plus the normal awkwardness and humiliation that come with seventh grade. Crouch manages to make Ross seem vulnerable without making him pitiful--because Ross does not want pity. He just wants to be normal. While emotionally expressive of Ross's anger and frustration, Crouch also perfectly depicts Ross's and his friends' lively humor. Especially wonderful are the illustrated interludes of Ross's alter ego, Batpig. The comic panels from the text are performed as radio plays, with Marc Thompson providing an exaggerated announcer voice and silly voices for Batpig's adversaries. Sound effects mask the occasional curse word, making this audiobook funny despite the real obstacles Ross is overcoming. S.C. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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