"Gorgeous and gripping, Hands is a poetic page-turner. You might just finish it in one sitting. Torrey Maldonado understands the kids he writes for at the deepest level.” —Adam Gidwitz, Newbery Honor–winning author of The Inquisitor’s Tale

The author of What Lane? and Tight delivers a fast-paced read that packs a punch about a boy figuring out how to best use his hands—to build or to knock down.


Trev would do anything to protect his mom and sisters, especially from his stepdad. But his stepdad’s return stresses Trev—because when he left, he threatened Trev’s mom. Rather than live scared, Trev takes matters into his own hands, literally. He starts learning to box to handle his stepdad. But everyone isn’t a fan of his plan, because Trev’s a talented artist, and his hands could actually help him build a better future. And they’re letting him know. But their advice for some distant future feels useless in his reality right now. Ultimately, Trev knows his future is in his hands, and his hands are his own, and he has to choose how to use them.
* “Maldonado’s latest tells a story many middle grade kids will have an immediate personal connection to: shouldering adult problems and taking them on as their own. . . . Maldonado’s story moves quickly, but it packs a punch with a rapidly progressing plot and short chapters. Tweens will appreciate the tight prose. When the novel concludes, readers will feel a sense of the real community Trev has beyond his immediate family. They will also appreciate the complex supporting characters and feel hopeful for Trev’s future. Those who have enjoyed Maldonado’s earlier books as well as fans of Jason Reynolds 'Track' series will love this one too. This is an absolute must-have for every middle grade library collection.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Trevor must decide what kind of person he aspires to be and what he’s willing to risk for his future. The author caters to reluctant readers while exploring complex ideas surrounding community, domestic abuse, and problem-solving. Brief chapters, a fast-paced narrative, and simple language make this an accessible read. The characters feel relatable, and Trevor’s love for his community comes through clearly in the first-person narration. Though by the conclusion, Trevor’s problems aren’t over, that doesn’t mean he’s facing them alone. . . . A short story with a lasting impact.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“This coming-of-age story is about the choices one can make and how they can affect our future, as well as the importance of family, even those who may not be related by blood. This has a powerful plot and an immersive text, and it's packaged in a short format perfect for impatient readers.” Booklist

“Based on Maldonado’s own experience of growing up in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Houses, this is an accessible, engaging, and heartfelt story.” —Horn Book

“Explores the difficult topic of domestic abuse via a genuine tale that is accessible to young readers. . . . Maldonado is seasoned at writing novels in urban settings and this title stands out as one of his stronger works. Trev is a likable and strong character with a range of emotions that young readers will understand. The neighborhood comes alive . . . and features many colorful secondary characters. The book ends on a hopeful tone as Trevor realizes he has both family and a community who will stand behind him. Reminiscent of how Brubaker made the topic of sexual abuse accessible to a younger audience in Fighting Words, Maldonado does the same for domestic abuse in this book. A worthy addition to library collections.”School Library Connection