Book Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

  Concrete Rose  by Angie Thomas Genre:  YA  Synopsis:   If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man...


Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Genre: YA 

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control. Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father. Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can't just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, gang activity, death, teen pregnancy, racism, classism

Overall rating:  ★★★★★

I preordered Concrete Rose the day that Angie Thomas announced its release date, and I read it immediately after receiving it. But here I am, half a year behind on reviews. We’ll get there though.

This is Thomas’s third YA novel and all three are in the same town. The Hate U Give is her most popular novel, which focuses on police murdering Black and Brown folks and the Black Lives Matter movement - Starr is the MC in this one. On the Come Up is set just a bit later, but features some of the same characters on the opposite side of town - Bri is the MC here. The neighborhoods have rival gangs, which makes it so incredible to get to see the humanity on either side of the main characters. The antagonists in one book are the protagonists in the other, and vise verse. It’s really cool.

Concrete Rose is a bit different. It’s set 17 years prior to The Hate U Give, and the main character is Starr’s dad Maverick. You get to know Mav as a pretty critical character in THUG, but he’s the parent in that book, so just like in real life, the perspective in which you view parents is just different. They’re authority figures of a sort, so that “people” side of them can sometimes get lost. But Concrete Rose allows you to meet Mav all over again as a teenager. You get to see how he was raised and what kind of teen he was, then you get to learn and grow with him while his world is completely changed. You’re able to really understand the things that made him the man and parent you see in THUG.

"Tough situations don't last. Tough people do."

What really stands out, not only about Concrete Rose but all of Thomas’s stories, is the way she writes. You don’t feel like you’re reading a book. It’s like having a conversation with friends. The dialogue and tone of her books is so conversational and it makes the characters really jump off the page. It’s entirely immersive, and truly turns reading into a full experience. You just can’t beat Angie Thomas’s writing style.

The development is this story is absolutely astounding. Angie Thomas is such a talented force in the YA community, and I think her stories have truly paved the way for so many other Black YA authors. When I say she is the epitome of modern classics, I absolutely mean it. These books are banned in many states and schools, but they should certainly be required reading. I will say that Thomas’s book do describe a fair amount of trauma. They have uncomfortable and challenging content to read throughout. But there are also some really fine moments of Black joy. Don’t let these books be the only books you read about Black and Brown stories. Read the happy ones too. The romances, the contemporaries fictions, etc. but it’s also important to read the stories like THUG, On the Come Up, and Concrete Rose. They include Black joy but also touch on those really difficult situations that need to be heard, especially by white folks.

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