HANDS, by Torrey Maldonado, Nancy Paulsen Books, Jan. 24, 2023, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10 and up)
After his stepfather is arrested for domestic violence, a boy must figure out how best to use his hands in Hands, by Torrey Maldonado.
Trev would do anything to protect his mom and sisters, especially from his stepdad. But his stepdad’s return stresses Trev—because when he left, he threatened Trev’s mom.
Rather than live scared, Trev takes matters into his own hands, literally. He starts learning to box to handle his stepdad. But everyone isn’t a fan of his plan, because Trev’s a talented artist, and his hands could actually help him build a better future. And they’re letting him know. But their advice for some distant future feels useless in his reality right now.
Ultimately, Trev knows his future is in his hands, and his hands are his own, and he has to choose how to use them. —Synopsis provided by Nancy Paulsen Books
At less than 150 pages, Hands is a relatively short book for middle readers, but it certainly packs a punch. In fact, the book is better for its brevity with author Torrey Maldonado perfectly capturing the voice his audience wants to hear.
From the first page, it is as if Trev is talking directly to you. His tone, his body language, his emotion. They’re all there.
Trev is rooted in reality, and his concerns weight heavily. He desperately wants to keep his mom and sisters safe, but he also wants their approval, too. Using his hands to physically protect them is what society says he should do. But he wonders if using his hands for other things could make a different kind of change.
The things facing Trev are heavy, but he’s not alone. Of particular note are the conversations he has with the “uncles” in his neighborhood. Even when he’s alone, he’s not “alone.” Their genuine concern for him is authentic and adds perspective.
Hands is a fast-paced read with short chapters that’s full of energy. For many, it will be a one-sitting read.
*Hands is a Cybils-nominated book. This review is my opinion and not the opinion of the middle-grade fiction panel as a whole.
Copyright © 2023 Cracking the Cover. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.