The author of What Lane? and Tight delivers a fast-paced read that packs a punch about a boy figuring out how to best use his hands—to build or to knock down.
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.
“Trevor must decide what kind of person he aspires to be and what he’s willing to risk for his future. The author caters to reluctant readers while exploring complex ideas surrounding community, domestic abuse, and problem-solving. Brief chapters, a fast-paced narrative, and simple language make this an accessible read. The characters feel relatable, and Trevor’s love for his community comes through clearly in the first-person narration. Though by the conclusion, Trevor’s problems aren’t over, that doesn’t mean he’s facing them alone. . . . A short story with a lasting impact.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This intense page-turner by Maldonado (What Lane?) perceptively explores the complexities of one Black tween’s experience facing difficult situations, the effect that violence has on one family’s future, and the value of community when working through hardship.” —Publishers Weekly
“This coming-of-age story is about the choices one can make and how they can affect our future, as well as the importance of family, even those who may not be related by blood. This has a powerful plot and an immersive text, and it's packaged in a short format perfect for impatient readers.” —Booklist
“Based on Maldonado’s own experience of growing up in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Houses, this is an accessible, engaging, and heartfelt story.” —Horn Book
“Explores the difficult topic of domestic abuse via a genuine tale that is accessible to young readers. . . . Maldonado is seasoned at writing novels in urban settings and this title stands out as one of his stronger works. Trev is a likable and strong character with a range of emotions that young readers will understand. The neighborhood comes alive . . . and features many colorful secondary characters. The book ends on a hopeful tone as Trevor realizes he has both family and a community who will stand behind him. Reminiscent of how Brubaker made the topic of sexual abuse accessible to a younger audience in Fighting Words, Maldonado does the same for domestic abuse in this book. A worthy addition to library collections.” —School Library Connection
“Torrey taps into a kind of writing we’ve been in dire need of for a very long time. And with his authentic voice and whole heaping helpfuls of heart, his latest book Hands is one that your kids are NOT going to want to miss. . . . The fact of the matter is that there is no other author out there writing with Maldonado’s capabilities and then consistently putting out full-length stories that are this short. . . . A great deal of the book’s lure lies in its complications. Trev’s problem is anything but straightforward. . . . The author is being honest with the reader. Life is rarely tied up in a neat little bow, and in eschewing some kind of deus ex machina, the story is honoring the complications surrounding Trev’s life. . . . Homey and touching, complicated and unafraid to deal with paradoxes . . . the final product is ultimately a strong piece I’d hand to any kid willingly. Especially the kids that don’t even know it’s what they need. Yet.” —Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production