Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hand Me Down: A Novel” as Want to Read:
Hand Me Down: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Hand Me Down: A Novel

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  717 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Hand Me Down, which recalls the gritty power of Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, is fiction with the ring of truth.” –San Jose Mercury News

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents’ cruel mistakes and broken promises. When their mother chooses her second husband and their new family over raising her fi
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Plume (first published April 12th 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  717 ratings  ·  138 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Hand Me Down: A Novel
Caidyn (he/him/his)
I'm just going to say that the description that is given up there doesn't do it justice. The book is full of things that most adults couldn't imagine going through. It was very well written and all the characters felt REAL. Stress on the real. They felt like real people in an actual family since, let's face it, we all have family members that are a bit messed up. The story developed well and I loved how Liz gave backstories on her family which really gave the story, in a whole, more depth. I rea ...more
Brittany Rehage
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't have enough words in my vocabulary to describe how much this book moved me.

I could feel the pain Liz was going through each time I turned the page, and the anger she had at the world around her. I had more hope for her than I've had for any other character in a long time. She was such a strong character, with so much determination to not let the mistakes of those around her bring her down to their level.

I wanted to shake some sense into the adults in this book. They are flawed and not ve
reading is my hustle
First, I suspect that Angela might have put this book on hold for me at the library as a joke. She knows how I detest any book that reminds me of "Bastard Out of Carolina" or the "Book of Ruth." Oprah type books that are supposed to be triumph over circumstance (but only) after focusing on the heinous types of hardship and abuse the characters are forced to endure. That being said, this book never stood a chance. "Hand Me Down" is akin to reading a watered down version of "Bastard Out of Carolin ...more
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a complicated book to review - it had four star potential, dipped down to three where it remained steadily, then took a really bad turn and ends with a 2. Which is to say I don't want to ignore that which the author did well, but those very strengths also highlight where she could have done better.
This is a somewhat original story of a girl whose parents have completely failed her - her father is a lying alcoholic who is abusive and manipulative, her mother was decent, it seems, until
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, 2018
This book had the potential to be so much more but fell short of it for me. This is the story of Elizabeth / Liz and the struggle between her mother and her husband and their fragmented family. Liz voiced some of the issues I had with her mother and how she could allow her family to be broken by her perverted husband. All the adults in the story had their own issues which were not fully explored. It is a heartbreaking story in that this happens in families everyday.
Bonnie Brody
Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne is a heart-rending story of a dysfunctional family. Liz and Jaime are two sisters and Liz has always tried to take care of Jaime, her younger sister. When their mother marries a sex offender, she chooses him over the girls and tells the girls that they have to leave the home. Thus begins their sorrowful journey of living in one house after another, with one or another distant relative, and not always together.

Their father is a drunk and has a history of physical an
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picture yourself a teenage girl left in the lurch by a mother who has chosen her convict husband over you and an alcoholic father who only wants you because of the extra money he’ll get for child support. Imagine how alone you would feel being shuffled from one home to the next each time being an inconvenience to the family you were staying with. Well that is exactly what Elizabeth and her sister Jaime are going through.

The girl’s mother Linda has chosen her recently released from prison, sexual
Dawn Coulter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jaime Boler
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A child’s first providers and protectors are his or her parents. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. In her powerful, provocative, and semi-autobiographical debut novel, Hand Me Down, Melanie Thorne chronicles the epic struggle of a teenage girl suffering from neglect and abuse, determined to protect her sister at any cost. Hand Me Down feels so real that it reads like a memoir. Thorne’s story left me indignant and emotionally spent, which is proof of the author’s skilled writing and a
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, read-2016
While the premise of this book sounded right up my alley, and while it started out strong enough, I wasn't ever sold on what was happening. I thought that the ultimate showdown that occurred towards the end of the novel was not really worthy of the buildup in that it all seemed very cheesy and, while dramatic, not the right kind of dramatic for the situation.

I didn't like the character of Sam and didn't think to him be necessary to the story at all - there were enough crappy male characters and
Vi (like the letter)
When I first perused this novel while looking through Dutton’s latest catalog I was very intrigued. Melanie did an excellent job at telling Liz’s story and really making you feel for her. She really make me loathe her stepfather and mother, resent her father, and worry for her sister. The whole time I was wondering if she’d ever find a happy ending. When others would have lost hope a long time ago, Liz struggles and perseveres until the end, never giving up on her family and making the best of h ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, family-drama
I won "Hand Me Down" by Melanie Thorne through the Goodreads Giveaway.What an appropriate title for such a moving novel.I can only give praise for this book.It really moved me.

This is the story of a fourteen year old girl, Elizabeth Reid,who has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from her parent's neglect.It is the story of a disfunctional family, where Jaime goes to live with her father and Crystal. Their father has a drinking problem, and no time or money to invest in his daughter's
T. Greenwood
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up after listening to an interview with Melanie Thorne on the Other People with Brad Listi podcast. So glad I did. This story is heart-breaking, particularly knowing it was inspired by Thorne's own life.

Elizabeth's mother is married to a convicted sex offender. Her father is a drunk. And when forced to choose between her husband and her daughters, she chooses him.

The girls are separated. Jaime goes to live with their father, leaving Elizabeth in a constant state of fear over her
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens and adults
Recommended to Patricia by: won from Goodreads
I received this book as a give away from Goodreads and once I started the book I couldn't put it down.

The plot and characters of the book pulled me right in their world. The main character Elizabeth has the courage of a hero. Her life as she explains it is heart breaking. She feels like she has been shoved aside by her parents; her mother choses her boyfriend over her children and her Dad chooses booze over his daughters. This is a story of great courage shown by a young women who fights to ove
Elizabeth B
The stark realism of the MC's situation is heartbreaking. That alone makes this book worthy of a read. It does follow some formula fiction rules with the hard life, parental anger, etc. but it's no so dry that I couldn't overlook that and become engaged in the story. About midway through, however, the realism went away as the characters began to do the exact actions they had been preaching against for the entire novel. The ending was completely unrealistic to me with everything tied up in a nice ...more
Apr 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This was good, but I suppose I expected more based on all the reviews I read. I was interested to hear what happened to Liz, but there were some things that bothered me. First, the changes in time periods was abrupt and often I didn't realize right away that it was a flashback. Second, it was a bit irritating that all of the adult males were jerks or nerds. Third, the issue with good old Dad was never resolved. He just sort of disappeared and you don't really know what happened to him. Since he ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hand Me Down's protagonist, Liz, couldn't have been more endearing. This book has so many emotions to it, and Liz's unique voice takes you through them flawlessly. Hand Me Down is the perfect title for it, too, as she's swapped from house to house like a second-hand coat. She behaves more adult-like than her parents and has grown into a worry-filled teenager always wondering about the what-ifs. I found myself rooting for her since the very first page. ...more
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very sad book about sisters caught in an impossible situation created by their parents. It ends well, but is painful getting there.
Jennifer Bentley
Two o'clock AM and just finished this book. I almost could not keep reading it after Liz was driven to her aunt's house, in the middle of the night, with her bathing suit still on. Every. Single. Adult. Failed. Aunt Tammy, on second thought... is awesome! I was frustrated at Jaime choosing Aunt Deborah, but you know what, that was is the right move for Jaime, not Liz. God, how I re-lived so much through Liz, only Liz was more brave in her outbursts; her biting wit when confronting all the f***er ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is surely nothing more unforgivable than a parent who betrays the trust of his/her child. In this compelling story, Elizabeth and her sister, Jaime, have a violent, alcoholic father who is divorced from their mother. Their mother is nurturing until she meets Terrance, a convicted sex offender, and marries him, fully aware of his history. Elizabeth and Jaime are left to decide whether to live with their alcoholic father and his new wife or stay with their mom and the looming threat of Terra ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Actual rating: 4.5 stars
This book pulled me out of my reading slump. It was beautifully written, and so gut wrenching and sad. The ending was just a little dramatic for me, but that's a personal preference. It's very cynical and definitely not for some people, but I found the main character very relatable and was able to really see everything from her perspective and it was very impactful. I felt her emotions, and even cried a little. I stayed up until 3:30 AM finishing it (I read over half in o
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A page turner. A young girl has to face a parent that acts more like a child than a parent. The problem is this puts her and her sister in different types of danger. The young girl has to figure out who she is while she figures out where to live... It's a common occurrence that is ignored in todays society but this author brings it out for others to see. Bringing light to neglect while offering a page turner. ...more
Tonya Kessinger
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This had so much potential. And I liked it, I did. It is heartbreaking and sad. You really feel for Liz throughout the whole story. But it leads up to this climatic incident...that just really felt forced. So while the book had 5 star potential I would settle at giving it 4. It really is a decent read and I read it in one sitting.
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very sad book. Hard to read but impossible to put down. It is a novel but it feels like a memoir. It is about choices a mother makes and the effect it has on her daughters. Powerful book, it will stay with me.
Kate Conroy
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was gifted this book by the agent I work for. She represents Melanie, and she thought I’d like this contemporary-YA crossover. This is the type of book that makes you feel like a different person after you’ve read it. I honestly read the first three pages and had to put it down and wonder if I could really continue, because it’s very heavy–much heavier than the synopsis suggests. Now that I sit down to write this, I realize I really don’t have a lot to say about it because my experience with t ...more
There's nothing inherently bad about this novel. I just had a really hard time connecting to any of the characters. I didn't find myself caring about any of them. Almost all of the adults were so despicable, and I just didn't find myself wanting to know how this book resolved. ...more
Rachel Harlow
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amanda Del Brocco
It’s terrifying that things like this happen in real life. Every adult in this book should have been kept far away from children.
Bookish Jen
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth “Liz” Reid is fourteen-years-old and it seems she has the entire world on her young shoulders. She is at an age where she should be thinking about boys, her favorite rock bands and the upcoming homecoming game. She should be texting her friends, updating her Facebook page, keeping up her grades and getting involved with school activities. Yet, she is not and author Melanie Thorne expertly conveys Liz’s chaotic life in her debut novel Hand Me Down.

Liz’s mother has just gotten married to
Lydia LaPutka
I was disappointed with this book. I read the review in the paper and was interested not only by the subject matter (children being moved around due to abusive/disinterested parents) but also by the fact that some of the setting is in Utah.

As outlandish as the abuse was, sadly, I know there are parents like the ones depicted in this youth fiction. What irritated me was that too many of the incidental male characters were perverted. I didn't think that was necessary. It makes it look like the wo
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Open House
  • The Real Minerva
  • Tears of Pearl (Lady Emily, #4)
  • Dangerous to Know (Lady Emily, #5)
  • Queen Elizabeth's Daughter: A Novel of Elizabeth I
  • The Baby-Sitters Remember (The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special, #11)
  • A Crimson Warning (Lady Emily, #6)
  • Death in the Floating City (Lady Emily, #7)
  • The Haunting of Maddy Clare
  • The Bridal Strain: Emily and Colin’s Wedding (Lady Emily, #3.5)
  • Behind the Shattered Glass (Lady Emily, #8)
  • The Counterfeit Heiress (Lady Emily, #9)
  • A Fatal Waltz (Lady Emily, #3)
  • Star of the East (Lady Emily, #9.5)
  • The Adventuress (Lady Emily, #10)
  • The Other Mrs.
  • That Silent Night: A Lady Emily Christmas Story
  • A Terrible Beauty (Lady Emily, #11)
See similar books…
I am the author of Hand Me Down, a semi-autobiographical debut novel given 3.5/4 stars by People magazine and named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012 and a 2013 YALSA Alex Award nominee.

My hobbies include reading, writing, watching smart TV, singing, crafting, swimming, gardening, and traveling, especially to warm, pretty places. I play guitar poorly. I can juggle. I'm a Libra. I love the ocean.

News & Interviews

Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
144 likes · 54 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »