Hands by Torrey Maldonado

c.2023, Nancy Paulsen Books       
138 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

Hey, pick that up, would you?

You don’t want to leave a mess; that’s just rude and disrespectful. Get your hands dirty, clean up after yourself, pick up your things and put them away. Those are lessons you learned almost as soon as you could walk. Put your things up, pick up your fists, and in the new book Hands by Torrey Maldonado, make an impact.

At 12 years old, Trev carries a lot on his shoulders.

Ever since his stepfather was jailed for hitting Trev’s mother, Trev’s been the man of the house and he feels responsible for protecting his older sisters and his mother, who “shielded” him from the family’s problems. The other thing Trev carries is a lot of anger.

He used to think highly of his stepfather but after that one night? Not anymore. He hates now when people say he looks like that guy because Trev knows he favors his real dad, who died five years ago. He knows that his father would’ve never hit his mother.

The posters in his bedroom give Trev an idea. He could be like Creed. Like Tyson. Like Ali or Mayweather, so he and his best friend, P, start working out near their home before they take things to a gymnasium where some of the guys in the neighborhood practice boxing. When they ask to train with a guy who seems to know what he’s doing, Trev and P are told “no.”

Turns out the trainer knew Trev’s uncle way back, and Uncle Lou made his friends promise not to let Trev do anything dumb.

Stay in school, the trainer said. Do good.

And there’s that word, “promise.” Trev’s teacher says he’s got some. His mother knows he has it, too, People tell him that they promise him this or that, but Trv knows promises break. He feels like a fidget-spinner, never going anywhere, spinning in place until the right kind of promise comes along…

Many hands, they say, makes light work. Give someone a hand and they appreciate your support or your help. In this Hands, though, despite a somewhat misleading cover, your youngster will learn about the importance of family – not just the one you get at birth but also the one that gets created along the way.

But that’s not all: the subtler, softer lesson for your boy is one of self-control, a message that author Torrey Maldonado doesn’t make much fuss about. It’s just part of the story, a small part that, in retrospect, feels like a heartbeat. The lesson’s there but, absent all preachiness or ill-placed nagging, it’s possible that your young reader might learn about self-discipline and misplaced responsibility without any awareness that he’s done so. That makes this an easy book for a parent to say yes to, and for a kid to enjoy.

There’s absolutely no reason that a pugilistic girl can’t read Hands, but it’s really meant for boys ages none-to-14. If yours wants a good, decent story then, yeah, pick this up.