Author: Angie Thomas
Rating: 5 Stars
International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.
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.
SPOILERS AHEAD: Sorry readers. This is not a spoiler free review. So if you haven't read this book yet and don't want to know anything, skip the review for now.
Concrete Rose is the prequel to Angie Thomas's bestselling novel The Hate U Give. This book follows Starr's father Maverick Carter as a 17 year old struggling high school student and gang member in Garden Heights. Mav is just trying to live his life, playing ball and dealing, and then he finds out that the baby he thought was King's is actually his. This information is life changing, not just for Mav, but for his mother, his girlfriend Lisa, and Seven's mother Iesha, as well so many other people in this book.
I loved and hated so much about this book. I loved the characters (most of them) and loved watching them grow throughout the book. Let's talk about those characters a bit. Mav and his mother were my favorite characters. Mav's mom was honest and blunt with him, and when they found out Seven was his baby, his mother made sure he took care of that baby like every parent should. Mav certainly had struggles in this book, and I'm not even going to pretend I understand what his struggles were like. I'm an old white lady from a small town. I've never had to deal with gangs, police violence, and the massive amounts of drugs pushed on communities of color. So, I will just say, I loved watching Mav grow and mature throughout this book. He started out not thinking that he could possibly take care of this baby because he was 17, and we all know how hard it is to take care of babies. They cry, they wake up in the middle of the night, the test you. But he did what he had to do, and some things fell through the cracks. But he learned some hard lessons throughout this book, and he stepped up and did what he needed to do make sure he and his son were taken care of.
I also loved Dre, and I think he was a great role model for Mav. He was always looking out for Mav, and I was so heartbroken when he got killed. I definitely saw a lot more struggle for a long time in Mav after Dre got murdered.
The other characters in this book, even the minor ones, added a lot to this book, and really helped give an idea of what life was like for Maverick and his friends when he was young. They were all so well written, and they were all part of this book for a reason.
The book was well written, which is what I have com to expect from Angie Thomas. The whole story was on point. If you've read The Hate U Give, you know that Mav was young when he got Iesha and Lisa pregnant, you know some of the background details of his life. And yet, this book still surprised me, and I loved it even when I was crying over what happened. Nothing in this book didn't fit. Even when I was pissed at what happened and wanted to rewind, I knew what had happened was important to the story and needed to be there.
I liked that this book showed such strong role models for the young people in Garden Heights. The owner of the store where Mav got his job, for example, was wonderful and very strict with Mav. Mav's mom, his counselor at school, Dre, and so many other adults, were always looking out for these kids and making sure that things were getting better for them. There are too many kids who don't have that kind of thing in their lives, and so it was good to see that here. I think that really helped Mav because it showed him that he not only had his son depending on him, but he also had all these other people around him who knew he could be more.
If you're up for it, here are some booktube folks who have also reviewed this wonderful book. Go check out their videos.
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If you've read Concrete Rose, drop your thoughts below. I'd love to know what you think!