HANDS BY TORREY MALDONADO
Hands, written by Torrey Maldonado, is a story that every teacher must read and have in their classroom library. When my colleague returned from NCTE with a signed copy, I was elated. I placed it on my book stack with the promise to get to it right away. But life happened and obligatory reads took over. My advance reader copy got buried in my stack waiting for me to find the time it deserved. On this languid Sunday afternoon, my advance reader copy, no longer advanced, found its way into my hands and it did not leave them until I finished this story written from the heart.
Trevor’s experience with his family and friends and finding himself through that turmoil will speak to every student in every classroom. Hands sheds light on the quiet strength of the student falling asleep during class who feels like they are in an impossible situation and doing their best to hold it all together. Trevor Junior’s current reality is a mirror for students that need hope that they too can respond to their challenges in ways that empowers them. His experience speaks to the capacity of human connection and that we can seek advice and help from those in our lives who will help us make the right choices, from our “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” as described by the acronym in the author’s note:
“Fight for me
Stand by me.”
I love how Maldonado ingeniously threads how hands can be used to in many ways throughout each chapter: to express ourselves, to interact with the world around us, to create, to care for others, to communicate our love for others, to fight, to hurt and harm others. This aligns beautifully with Maldonado’s exploration of the different implications of the word promise throughout the story and how it too can be used to give hope but also make us feel hopeless. How fitting is it that Maldonado’s inscription on the inside cover is a promise of the impact of educators, “Our world is in your hands.” I hope you get your hands on a copy today!