Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas – A Review

Hello! I am back to posting (I am trying to get myself organised, I swear) with another review. So without much fluff, let’s just get right into it.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
  • Publication date: 12th January 2021
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Genre: Contemporary

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.

After reading THUG and On The Come Up, I knew I loved Angie Thomas. I guess I just didn’t quite realise how much. Concrete Rose was one of my most anticipated releases this year, I KNEW it would be exceptionally written, I KNEW it’d be poignant and yet somehow it really surprised me.

Maverick was a really great character in THUG. He was smart, responsible and a great parent to his children. Seeing him at 17, being ANYTHING but that was really interesting and added a lot of depth to the character. Teenage Mav gets himself into so many bad situations, one after another, I don’t think I would’ve felt in any way bad for him have I not known his better side already. Before the age of 18 he gets mixed up with a gang, fails high schools and impregnates not one but two girls. But we also catch a glimpse of the Maverick we know from The Hate You Give when we see him with Seven.

As always, the writing was impeccable. Angie Thomas has a very distinct voice and heaps and heaps of talent. Her stories feel real and authentic, and Concrete Rose is no different. The book, like Thomas’ other books, talks about what growing up Black is like in America. It doesn’t shy away from important subjects, like teenage pregnancy, gang violence, death, grief, drugs, toxic masculinity especially towards Black men and many other. There are so many quotable passages in the book, with my favourite being

“Son, one of the biggest lies ever told is that black men don’t feel emotions. Guess it’s easier not to see us as human when you think we’re heartless. Fact of the matter is, we feel things. Hurt, pain, sadness, all of it. We got a right to show them feelings as much as anybody else.”

Although Concrete Rose is fairly light on the plot, Maverick, his development, and the supporting characters really make up for it and keep the pacing steady. The book is a very quick read, even though having read THUG most readers know the ending and the some of the events leading to it. The lack of mystery doesn’t ruin the experience one bit.

Speaking of the ending… when I finished the book I felt like it ended too quickly, and I know I’m not the only one. I’d love to know even more of Maverick and Lisa’s lives and Starr’s backstory, so here’s to hoping we’ll get another prequel.

I don’t think the rating is any bit of a surprise – it’s an easy 5 star read!

Have you read Concrete Rose yet? What did you think?

Thanks for reading, and as always – talk soon!

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