Rink (Jimi & Isaac 4a: Solar Powered, 2011, etc.) paints a visceral, moving portrait of a young boy whose life is thrown into chaos when his father unexpectedly falls from the roof and receives a potentially life-threatening head injury.
Isaac is a smart kid. He and his father are installing new solar panels on the roof of their house, solar panels made, in fact, with a new chemical mixture that Isaac himself invented. Just as they finish, however, Isaac’s father slips backward and falls off the roof. In short order, he is in the hospital, in critical condition, and Isaac is left to navigate a confusing world of worried mothers, concerned friends and well-intentioned uncles trying to prepare him for the worst. Uncle Bob doesn’t manage to put a dent in Isaac’s initial denial, however, nor does the well-meaning concern of Isaac’s best friend, Jimi. As events progress, it becomes clear that there’s a very real possibility Isaac’s dad may not fully recover. Isaac, boy genius or not, finds himself struggling with the prospect of what life may be like if his father doesn’t recover. Every part of Isaac’s journey is meticulously and thoughtfully drawn. The emotional reality of what is happening to him and his family is conveyed realistically and with tremendous care. This is accomplished not only with clear, excellent prose, but also with insightful characterization. Rink in particular captures the essence of a young boy in the throes of denial over his father’s condition. The interactions between Isaac and Jimi are just the right balance of sincere and awkward, as when Isaac says he can’t wait for his dad to get better: “ ‘He’s going to get better?’ Jimi said. ‘That’s great!’ I just looked at him. ‘Of course he’s going to get better,’ I said. I thought for a minute. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘What did you hear?’ Jimi turned away from me, grabbed a shirt off the floor, and hung it up. ‘Nothing, I guess,’ he said to the closet.” All told, it is a simple and powerful story, authentically told.
Highly recommended for both its quality of writing and its superb handling of difficult subject matter.