Concrete Rose is the prequel to The Hate U Give (THUG) by Angie Thomas. I admittedly waited until last year to finally read THUG and immediately regretted it. I didn’t want to make the same mistake with this one. I was excited to learn more about Maverick’s story and see how he became the father he was to his children.
Being a prequel, Concrete Rose gives us the insight of who Maverick was when he was a Black teenager growing up a part of the King Lord world. You witness him learning that he is a teenage father (twice), and watch him as he tries to navigate his life. You also learn about the people who influence him, and who help create the man who everyone got to meet in THUG.
Maverick is a complex character. He lives in a world that is filled with poverty, racism, and gang violence. His father is in prison, and it is expected that he will follow his footsteps. He is conflicted about this, and conflicted about having his father in prison in the first place. He has an older cousin who has his back, and tries to keep an eye out for him. Maverick’s relationship with Dre was so heartwarming, and felt very realistic. And I definitely felt for Maverick when tragedy struck. I could not fault him for wanting to find out what happened and potentially seek revenge.
Even though he is scared, Maverick has such a strong love for his children. He doesn’t want to disappoint them and does not want to be a failure in their eyes. This results in him making some questionable decisions at times. All of his decisions come from a place of devotion though and the conflicts help make him stronger as a person. The world that Maverick is living in is not an easy world but, he wants to try and make it better for those who are following him. I respected this as a reader, and when he came in contact with other wonderfully written characters who challenged this in him, I desperately wanted him to challenge it right back.
I have said before that Angie Thomas is the new voice in the young adult world that we have all been blessed with and I stand by those words with Concrete Rose. She is giving a voice to those who need to be heard. One of the lines that really stuck with me is as follows:
“One of the biggest lies ever told is that Black men don’t feel emotions. Guess it’s easier to not see us a 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.”
Um. WOW! This is so real. This representation of the worlds that exist similar to Garden Heights is so important right now. There is a heart and soul in these world and in the words that are being written on the page. And I for one cannot wait to see what comes next from Angie Thomas.
Rating: 5 Stars