A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Ask for help when you need it, and give help when you can. If you trust someone, accept their guidance, even if you don't quite understand. Keep lines of communication open with people who care about you.
Positive Role Models
A group of Black men serve as mentors and protectors to a young boy. Two teens in the projects encourage a younger kid to cultivate his skill at drawing. After a boy shares a painful family secret with a friend, the other boy displays empathy in consoling him. A teacher shows compassion to a boy whose grades suffer when he faces family problems. A woman displays courage in standing up to a husband who abuses her, and a boy shows courage in driving away a boyfriend who is grabbing his sister by the wrist against her will.
The main characters are Black. Some boys and men resort to violence, and it's implied that one man deals drugs. But the primary characters are mentors to the young Black hero and are portrayed as "trees" -- strong, smart, nurturing protectors of their community.
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Violence & Scariness
After a boy's stepfather goes to prison for punching his wife, the boy decides he needs to learn to fight to defend himself. Fistfights are described in middle school yards, between groups of young men, and between adult men. There is an implication that a man died due to gang violence. A teen grabs his girlfriend by the wrist and won't release it when she says it hurts.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
It's implied that a man sells marijuana. This is presented in a positive light, as this man has a lot more money than other people in the community and a fancy car.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that in Hands by Torrey Maldonado (What Lane?) 12-year-old Trevor is dealing with the aftermath of his father's death and domestic violence in his home by his stepfather. The stepfather punched Trevor's mother, she called the police on him, and he went to prison. This left Trevor's mom as sole parent to her own children as well as a stepdaughter. Anticipating that his stepfather will come home in a few months, Trevor prepares to physically fight him if necessary to protect the family. Fistfights are described in middle school yards between groups of young men and between adult men. There's an implication that a man died due to gang violence. A teen grabs his girlfriend by the wrist and won't release it when she says it hurts. It's also implied that another man sells marijuana. The drug dealing is presented in a positive light, as this man has a lot more money than other people in the community and a fancy car.
Is It Any Good?
In this compelling story, author Torrey Maldonado takes a candid approach to tough subjects and takes a strong stand for Black men and boys. In Hands, the author does not flinch from the reality that men sometimes commit violence against women and each other. He doesn't also doesn't whitewash life in an impoverished community where a drug dealer is a benefactor. However, the primary portraits he provides of Black men are men who are "trees," strong, smart, nurturing protectors of their community.
The young readers this book is intended for can't be sheltered from the negative situations presented in the story. They already know, maybe more than they want to. The purpose of this book is to tell them they're not alone and give them hope for a better future.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.