Book Review: ‘Concrete Rose’ by Angie Thomas

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Instead of sayin, “Damn, he did this, he did this,”
just be like, “DAMN! He grew out of that? He came out of that?”
That’s what they should say, y’knowhatImean?
All the trouble to survive and make good out of the dirty, nasty
y’knowhahatImean unbelievable lifestyle they gave me
I’m just tryin to make somethin..
-Tupac, “The Rose That Grew Out of Concrete”

You may remember Maverick Carter as the father of Starr Carter in the breakout hit novel, The Hate U Give. With Concrete Rose, author Angie Thomas takes us back to Garden Heights in a prequel/origin story centered around Mav.

Readers will meet Mav as a young adult and witness his struggles with providing for his family. As the son of an infamous drug lord who is now in prision, he’s expected to follow down that path in order to keep his mom afloat. But soon, Mav becomes a father himself and it’s getting harder and harder to deal drugs, take care of an infant and finish high school. So he takes a job that’ll keep him on the straight and narrow – it’s not easy, but it’s right.

The streets have a way of pulling you back in though, and when a family member is murdered, Mav will have to decide which path is truly his destiny.

Like all of Angie Thomas’ books, this was such a good and necessary read. Thomas, who wanted to portray black men more positively in her stories, says the character of Maverick is “perfectly imperfect.”

 “It was important to me above all to humanize him because that’s the bare minimum we owe young Black boys. As a writer, the least I could do is to have a fully three-dimensional figure on the page,” she said at The New England Independent Booksellers Association virtual conference.

Not only does she challenge the stereotypes associated with being black, but she also challenges those surrounding what it’s like to be a man. Maverick’s character has a tough exterior, but learns it’s okay to feel and show emotion.

With her third book, Angie Thomas continues to tell important stories and give voice to marginalized communities through her works, firmly cementing her as one of the most timely authors of young adult fiction today. If Concrete Rose is any indication of the type of books she’ll continue to write, it doesn’t appear that her star will be burning out anytime soon.

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