Goodreads: Concrete Rose
Series: The Hate U Give #0
Published: January 2021
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.
Concrete Rose demonstrates that Angie Thomas’ powers as a writer just keep growing. Once again, she presents a story around an ordinary teenager, and transforms one character’s everyday struggles into an empathetic look at making mistakes and moving forward. Maverick Carter is a seventeen-year-old, lying to his mother about where he gets his money from so he can help support her, worried about things like girls and school, but suddenly finding life turned upside-down when he learns he is a father. Maverick wants to go straight for the sake of his new son, but taking care of a child is expensive, and legal jobs just don’t seem to pay. In Concrete Rose, Thomas makes Maverick’s hopes, dreams, and fears come alive, inviting readers to experience the terror and the wonder that is growing up.
One of Thomas’ greatest strengths is her ability to write characters who leap off the page. In Concrete Rose, Maverick gets to tell his own story, showing himself a relatable teen just trying to do the right thing–support his family, be there for his girlfriend, and create a better life for himself than his neighborhood, and even his father, might seem to suggest he can achieve. Unfortunately, however, Maverick makes a few key mistakes, dealing for his father’s former gang, and getting not one, but two different girls pregnant. But Maverick takes responsibility for his choices, getting a new job and doing everything he can to be there for his children. Readers will want to cheer him on, even if they already know how his story turns out.
To its credit, Concrete Rose does not gloss over how hard life has become for Maverick. Taking care of a baby is no joke, and Maverick gets the full experience of sleepless nights and explosive diapers. With only a slim network of friends and family to help him, Maverick finds himself strapped for cash to care for his new baby, and struggling to find time to work, go to school, and do childcare. One night’s seemingly harmless fun now threatens to jeopardize the future he worked so hard to create, making high school graduation, let alone college and a good-paying job, seem out of reach. Maverick’s greatest test will be his ability to continue envisioning a future where he escapes gang life and the inevitable early death or imprisonment that so often accompanies it. He will have to envision it, if he wants to be there for his children the way his own father was not there for him.
Concrete Rose faces the difficulties of life head on, acknowledging the hard choices that many teens make every day. It tells these teens that they are seen, and heard, and loved. And it reminds them that they are not alone in their struggles, and that there is hope for a brighter future, if they have the courage to imagine it.