Review of Hands

Hands Hands
by Torrey Maldonado
Intermediate  Paulsen/Penguin  144 pp.
1/23  9780593323793  $16.99
e-book ed.  9780593323809    $9.99

Twelve-year-old Trevor is a gifted comic-book artist, a good student, and a kind brother to his three sisters. But two years earlier, his stepdad was sent to prison for hitting Trevor’s mother, and Trevor fears what will happen when his stepdad returns. He figures he had better learn to “throw hands,” taking inspiration from the posters of Muhammad Ali and Creed on his bedroom wall. He bulks up, learns to box, and, at almost six feet tall, feels he might be able to protect his mother. But he has uncles—some “blood uncles,” some not—who guide him in another direction. Uncle Larry tells Trevor that his mother is stronger than he realizes: “You know the Jedi have the Force? Well, your mother is a force.” And he says that fighting his stepdad would be like Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader: where would that lead? With such guidance, Trevor comes to realize that he may not have all the answers, but he does have the support of family and friends who care about him as he makes his own way in life. Based on Maldonado’s own experience of growing up in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Houses, this is an accessible, engaging, and heartfelt story.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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