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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