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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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What's the Story?
When HANDS begins, 12-year-old Trevor is living in the projects with his mom, sister, and stepsister. His stepfather is in prison after punching Trevor's mother, but his release is imminent. Trevor decides he needs to learn how to fight so he can protect the family. Along with his new friend P, he starts going to a boxing gym. A group of adult male mentors, blood uncles and men from the community, mentor Trevor to try to keep him out of adult problems and off the path of violence. At the same time, Trevor contemplates the other way he likes to use his hands -- drawing superheros.
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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the incarceration of a family member in Hands. Do you or anyone you know have a family member who's been in jail or prison?
"Promise" is a major theme in Hands: making promises, keeping promises, and showing promise. What does that word mean to you?
Why do you think the author chose Hands as the title of this book?
- Author: Torrey Maldonado
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion, Courage, Empathy
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
- Publication date: January 24, 2023
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 12
- Number of pages: 144
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: February 9, 2023
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