They say a good story will let you see things through the eyes of its central characters. But Ross Maloy can’t give you that point of view. He’s only got one eye to share.
As his story starts out, 12-year-old Ross is strapped to a steel table with a giant ray gun contraption aimed at his offending right eye. It seems that he has a rare cancer there that popped up out of the blue.
Ross is getting his first of forty-five proton radiation zaps that will steal away any hopes of navigating seventh grade normally. Instead of hanging with best buds Abby and Isaac, avoiding a bully and crushing on the school’s prettiest and coolest girl, he’ll be transformed into a goofy hat-wearing, hair-losing, goopy ointment-covered sideshow with a perpetual wink. And to top it off, there’s a new crop of bullies afoot, too: anonymous kids who create and spread terrible memes throughout the middle school, dubbing Ross the “cancer cowboy.”
Yeah, nice and normal are things of the past.
But there’s good to be found here as well. It’s not all angry outbursts and woe-is-me sadness. (Though, Ross has those days. I mean wouldn’t you get a little ticked off if all this happened to you?) Ross also meets people who open his … eye to different ways of thinking, communicating, feeling. He starts funneling his emotions into learning to play a guitar. He sets new goals. He uses his Batpig drawings to navigate things that are hard to put into words.
Life can be difficult sometimes, and normal is probably a fantasy for any middle schooler. But Ross slowly comes to see that with all the struggle, all the losing, there’s finding, too. And sometimes the most obnoxious things can end up being oddly funny if you squint your eyes and look at it just the right way. (Ross certainly has that covered.) After all, laughter is the best kind of medicine.