Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Published by
Dutton Books (April 2012)
Original language
Fiction & Related items


by Thorne, Melanie

14-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister Jaime from their parents' cruel mistakes. Their father pours every dollar into his many vices, denying his daughters the shoes and clothing they need. Once a loving parent, their mother is now going through a post-post-adolescent rebellious streak, and finds love with a dangerous ex-con, a pedophile. When she chooses starting a new family over raising her first-born girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and forced to rely on the begrudging kindness of increasingly distant relatives.

A string of broken promises that begin with Liz's mother swearing, "I would never hurt you, Liz. You're family," propels her between guest beds in two states, searching for a safe home. All the while, Liz is burdened by her stake in a bleak pact with a deceitful adult: to tell the truth about the darkest of her circumstances will cost her the ability to shelter Jaime. As Liz spirals into the abyss of fear and shame that haunts her sleepless nights, can she break free from her bonds in time to fight for her life?
Thorne writes with a command of language that is at once affecting and enticing. Her debut is the kind of voice-driven reading experience fiction lovers crave. HAND ME DOWN is based on Thorne's own life-she was raised by a mother who chose, with devastating consequences, a new family over her biological children. She is willing to promote the book as semi-autobiographical to help generate off-the-book-page coverage.

Melanie Thorne was born in Sacramento, and has lived in Santa Cruz, Davis, South San Francisco, San Mateo, and Salt Lake City. She earned her MA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis, where she was awarded the Alva Englund Fellowship and the Maurice Prize in fiction. She was a resident at the Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat in 2011, and her work has appeared in various journals. She has spent the last few years copywriting and teaching community college composition classes. She is now happily living back in Northern California, just forty minutes from the ocean. Hand Me Down is her first novel. Learn more at

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Annelie Geissler

Available View on Rightsdesk


Review: Clifford Chase

This is an intriguing first outing by a talented new writer.

Review: Publishers Weekly

Review: John Lescroart

Thorne populates her pages with characters who are fascinating and sharply drawn.

Review: Kirkus

Review: Pam Houston

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