SUCH a mov­ing book! Drawn into Trev’s world, the read­er expe­ri­ences the life of this boy in the midst of his fam­i­ly: a lov­ing mom, two old­er sis­ters, and a step­dad with a tem­per. While there are good thoughts of his step­dad, there comes a day when the man hits Trev’s mom, who calls the police. Hav­ing bro­ken parole, the step­dad is returned to prison. Now, two years lat­er, Trev is wor­ried because he has heard a rumor that his step­dad will be return­ing home. Trev is con­sumed by the need to pro­tect his mom and sis­ters from a threat the step­dad made when he left. Trev’s not a fight­er, but he con­vinces him­self that fight­ing is the only way he can be strong enough.

While that’s the moti­va­tion behind Trev’s sto­ry, the book is about so much more. The sec­ondary char­ac­ters have a depth and char­ac­ter that involve us in Trev’s community.

Trev is a tal­ent­ed artist. He’s kind, thought­ful … and he doesn’t want to learn how to fight. But … he needs to pro­tect his fam­i­ly. First, he prac­tices his punch­es with his friend. Then he goes to a gym to be trained.

And this is the heart and soul of this book. Trev’s “uncles” show up for him. Friends of his deceased father and his mother’s deceased broth­er (both of them killed by bul­lets), these men are uncles to Trev. At the gym, Quick refus­es to train him to fight. Frankie, an auto garage own­er, encour­ages Trev to pur­sue a bet­ter life. Lar­ry, the uncle who is a librar­i­an, is a mas­ter at sub­tle persuasion. 

There is so much love in this book, bal­anc­ing the fear and anger. The peo­ple who care for Trev, includ­ing his teacher Ms. Clark, offer him a sup­port sys­tem. Once Trev real­izes this, he begins to see a way through his dilemma.

Tor­rey Mal­don­a­do is a strong and car­ing sto­ry­teller who writes books that are filled with chal­lenges that have no sim­ple answers. He address­es his read­ers’ need for truth in a com­pelling way. The sto­ry is acces­si­ble but it’s the way Mr. Mal­don­a­do tells the sto­ry that turns it into a must-read book. Sug­gest this for kids who need mir­rors and those who are seek­ing win­dows … they’ll turn every page as eager­ly as I did. And, like me, they’ll impa­tient­ly await Mr. Maldonado’s next book.

High­ly recommended.

writ­ten by Tor­rey Mal­don­a­do
Nan­cy Paulsen Books, 2023
Sug­gest­ed for ages 10 and up
ISBN 978 – 0593323793

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