cover image Hands


Torrey Maldonado. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-593-32379-3

With help from his friend and neighbor Pete, 12-year-old Trev begins learning how to box, hoping to use these skills to defend his mother and sisters from his jealous and violent stepfather, who maintains he’s the “only man in the house” and is returning home from two years in jail for physically abusing Trev’s mom. Trev also finds solace in artistic pursuits, particularly his love of illustrating superheroes, after whom he models his athletic goals: he also often pushes himself to his limits while training to become a competent boxer like his grandfather. This training starts impacting Trev’s studies and his relationship with his community, however: after he smashes a window with his bare hands, scaring a younger neighbor, he reckons with the consequences of unchecked emotions surrounding his newfound physical strength and stemming from internalized toxic masculinity. Trev navigates his trauma by seeking advice from older men in his neighborhood and adapts to what he believes is positive masculinity. 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. Ages 10–up. (Jan.)