Staff Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

I read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas a few months ago, and heard there would be a prequel coming out this year. “The Hate U Give” follows Starr, a Black teenager who witnesses her friend (who is also Black) be killed by a white police officer. The story is powerful and passionate, and if you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do! “Concrete Rose” is the prequel story that centers on Starr’s father Maverick when he is a teenager facing some very real and adult issues. As mentioned in “The Hate U Give”, Maverick once belonged to a gang, and “Concrete Rose” shows us that version of Maverick as he navigates through life.

“Concrete Rose” follows Maverick Carter at the age of 17. His father is in prison, the legendary leader of the King Lord gang Mav now belongs to. His mother is working multiple jobs to try and support her and Mav. He is dating Lisa, a smart and beautiful young woman preparing for university, and life seems good. Maverick’s world soon comes crumbling down though, when he learns that he is a father. Maverick now has to care for his son, Seven, while trying to juggle school, home life, friends (and fellow gang members) and try to make a living to support his son. While the Maverick at the start of the novel is selling drugs to make money, Maverick the father wants to get straight and make sure he is there for his son, unlike his own father, who has been in prison for most of Maverick’s life. Unfortunately, leaving a gang isn’t a seamless process, and Maverick’s fellow gang members aren’t too keen on him walking away.

Angie Thomas does a fantastic job of telling the story of a young Black man who is trying to find his place and be more than what people expect him to be. When he becomes a father before graduating high school, it solidifies in his mind the idea that he will not amount to anything in life. Maverick struggles with whether or not he should even try and leave the gang life behind him, as he feels that is all he is destined for. Thomas shows readers the real struggles of young Black people in America as they try and prove themselves time and time again. She reminds readers through Maverick of how you can be more than the life you are born into. While Maverick feels destined for a life of drug selling and gang activity because of his father, he knows that life wouldn’t be sustainable when raising a child, and does everything he can to not fall into that life. As Maverick remarks, “The apple don’t fall far from the tree, but it can roll away from it. It simply need a little push.”

Angie Thomas is a force in YA literature, and her books are not to be missed! “Concrete Rose” and “The Hate U Give” tell important stories about self-discovery, racism, growing up and finding one’s purpose. “Concrete Rose” is a great story that can be read before or after its companion book, so be sure to pick up your copy of Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas today!