Today, I will be sharing my review of Hands Up by Stephen Clark with you all.
Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.
Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.
Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.
Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.
I started reading Hands Up just before the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests. At the time of starting it, I could never have imagined how relevant this story would become to what was happening worldwide at that very moment.
The reality is that police brutality towards black people, and the murder of innocent black people is happening a lot more than we realise. This problem isn’t only happening in America, but worldwide, and it needs to be dealt with. It should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.
Hands Up begins with the murder of an innocent black man, who becomes the most recent victim of police corruption and brutality. The story continues with the events that follow the murder, which include large Black Lives Matter protests.
The book is written from three different POV: The victims sister, the victims dad (who left his family 10 years previous to his sons murder, and makes a shock reappearance for the funeral), and the offending police officer. It was really interesting to read how each character dealt with the shock and grief differently, and to see it from each individual POV.
Jade’s feelings at the beginning of the book, immediately after her brother’s murder were particularly well written. Anyone who has lost a loved one will understand that feeling of being completely lost, and the unexplainable anger towards everyone and everything. Her struggles with her mental health, and self harm were at times quite difficult to read.
Towards the second half of the book, things get a little confusing for me, because this is where the romance aspect is introduced. Now, I don’t want to say too much on this part because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book, but for me it just made no sense at all. Realistically, it would never happen in the real world.
The ending was explosive, action packed, and totally not what I had expected. It was great to read, but I don’t think that the final outcome was true justice from the crimes that had been committed.
Overall, Hands Up is a powerful and thought provoking read, with an important storyline. However, I did feel that the romance aspect spoilt it a little, which I have taken in to consideration with my rating.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Police brutality, racism, references to sexual abuse, self-harm, and domestic violence.
I give Hands Up a 4 star rating.