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!

Most Anticipated Releases of The First Quarter of 2021

Hi! Happy Saturday!

I realise this post is about 3 weeks too late, but better late than never, right? A few of these books are out already, but I am still very excited to read them. Let’s go!

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Release date: January 12

I will read EVERYTHING Angie Thomas decides to write. I absolutely love THUG and am dying to read about Maverick’s teen years. I’ll be getting my hands on this one as soon as my self imposed book buying ban ends (read: as soon as I’m not as broke as I am currently).

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Release date: January 12

I’ll be honest with you… I haven’t read past the first book in this series. The premise of it is very intriguing, though, and I liked Every Heart a Doorway, so I might do a mini readathon in February and fly the rest of the books since I own them all on Kindle…

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

Release date: January 14

I loved The Hazel Wood and The Night Country and I just need this book right now in my hands! Is food really that important, or do I just order it?

The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick

Release date: January 21

I got very very lucky and approved for an ARC of this literally THE DAY it came out. So I’ll be starting it very shortly (possibly tomorrow) and I couldn’t be more excited. It has magic, con artists (if you don’t know that yet, it’s one of my buzz words!) and LGBTQA+ rep.

If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier

Release Date: January 26

First and foremost – I really enjoy this cover trend! Whether it’s flowers emerging from an actual face, or this kind of a deal with the picture of the face being ripped and the botanicals underneath. *chef’s kiss* All I know here is that this one is a mystery with a podcast and big Sadie vibes, so of course I’m on board.

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

Release date: January 26

Another January 26 release that I am DYING to read. We Could Be Heroes follows two characters with superpowers (another buzzword… maybe I should make a blog post about those?), and they come together, discover a threat and have to work together overcome it. I think. I’m not sure I’m understanding the synopsis, but either way it sounds right up my alley – it’s a weird sci-fi, and honestly sometimes that’s ALL I want to read!

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Release date: February 1

I love fantasy – it surprises no one. The Gilded Ones is meant to be a fantastic one, so of course it’s on my radar. All the people who were fortunate to get an early copy are raving about it. They say it’s great and full of representation, but also violent and graphic. That ticks most of the boxes for me. I am not sure about the plot, other than that it revolves around a girl who is being tested to become a member of her village, and fails the test, because her blood is gold and not red. I don’t need to know more, I’m sold already.

The Project by Courtney Summers

Release date: February 8

Another cover that is just… indescribably beautiful. And it so happens to be my most anticipated book of the year (I think, but maybe don’t quote me on it). If I had this book now, I would drop everything to read it. I fucking loved Sadie and Courtney Summers’ writing in it, and this one is also a mystery AND had to do with cults. Sign me up, I’m ready, I NEED IT!

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman

Release date: February 11

So, I have compiled this list in late December. I loved Schusterman’s Scythe trilogy, and got approved for this on NetGalley. I also finished it today. It’s about a guy who plays football, and after being hit on the field, the world around him changes and the reality is not quite how he remembers it. I’ll be posting a review for this one soon, and you’ll see if it deserved the spot on this list or not!

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab

Release date: March 2

Lots of sequels on this list! This one is a MG paranormal fantasy series by Victoria Schwab. I’ve enjoyed the first two books, centering about Cassidy, who can see ghosts, and her parents, who host a TV show all about them, as they travel from one city to another, exploring their haunted past. This one should be a lot of fun.

The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody

Release date: March 30

This cover gives me big Nevermoor vibes! So does the title. I am a sucker for a good magical middle grade fantasy. Amanda Foody is a writing goddess, and we need new books that kids can read instead of picking up HP. And by kids, I mean me. I’m kids.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Release date: March 30

On the same day, by another writing goddess – Leigh Bardugo, we have Rule of Wolves. I need more Nikolai Lantsov in my life. I loved King of Scars and I expect to love this one just as much. And look how gorgeous it is!

And that is all. Of course, these are not ALL of the books on my radar, just the ones I’m looking forward to the most. Any of these on your list?

Thank you for reading, as always, I’ll talk to you soon. I hope you’re staying safe!

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – A Review

Hi! I’ve been quiet for a couple of days though I really wanted to post and show my support for the Black Lives Matter movement in light of such terrible events. Instead, I decided to share a review and do better to consciously pick up more books by Black authors and promote them on here. Even though I read this book early last year, not too long after it came out, I thought since I haven’t posted a review for it then (because the blog didn’t exist), I will do so now.

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas
  • Publication date: February 7th 2019
  • Publisher: Walker
  • Genre: Contemporary

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

Oh, where do I start with this one…
On The Come Up is Angie Thomas’ second novel. After THUG absolutely BLEW UP, people were itching for another book, some definitely sceptical, with a question – can she do it again? The answer is: hell yeah, she can!

Our main protagonist, Brianna Jackson, Bri for short, is a sixteen year old girl from Garden Heights. Ever since she was a child she wanted to be a rapper. Her father, Garden’s own underground rap legend, was killed before he could make it big, and she’s determined to make a name for herself and do what her father never did. The dream becomes ever more urgent when the Jackson’s face eviction due to financial instability. Bri is sick of going hungry and wants to help her brother and mother support their family, and she does everything to achieve that, even if it means changing who she is.

Bri has become one of my favourite characters, after reading this book. She’s all I want in a protagonist – she has a personality, she’s driven, she’s caring, she’s flawed. She’s only sixteen. Of course she’s gonna fuck up on an occasion, say something she’s not meant to. Be angry. Everyone goes through that phase. And when you’re disadvantaged and marginalised… you’ve the right to take that angst up a notch.

Thomas has a talent for writing families. The dynamic they had felt incredibly authentic. They felt like a real family, the relationship between Jay and Bri justified by the past, the unwavering brotherly love from Trey, even when Bri fucked up real bad, because he felt not only like her older brother but also a father figure she was missing in her life. I really cared for all of them. It’s so easy for authors to forget about families and parents, especially when they’re not at the center of the story, but Thomas weaves it through the story effortlessly.

On The Come Up just right off the bat seems a lot less heavy than THUG, but it isn’t. It deals a lot with prejudice and racism, too. It’s about finding your voice, knowing your worth and that it’s not determined by how much money you have. It’s about following your dreams and doing it on your terms. It’s about stereotypes and perceptions.

In the words of Bri herself “I get that… and I don’t. I’ve caught glimpses of things (…) but I won’t ever know-know because I don’t live it.” I don’t know the life Angie Thomas, or Brie, or Starr, or any POC lives. I don’t know the hardships they do. But living in this world I see the prejudice. I know of the stereotypes. And it’s book like this that really open people’s eyes to it all. They teach kids about things they might not be exposed to, or exposed from the wrong perspective. Angie Thomas did it again. She wrote a great story, with great characters and touched on a lot of important issues.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you for reading!