“No one else who writes like Angie. Phenomenal.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Angie Thomas, the author of the bestselling YA novels The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, is back with another young adult novel entitled Concrete Rose. Thomas’ latest novel is a sequel to The Hate U Give, returning to Garden Heights 17 years before the events of The Hate U Give and it tells the story of Starr’s father, Maverick Carter who suddenly finds himself a father with a baby depending on him.
The novel Concrete Rose has obvious links to The Hate U Give since it is the backstory to Thomas’ first novel; we meet Maverick, Lisa, King and Iesha as teenagers, Seven as a baby, and even get a glimpse of baby Khalil. Concrete Rose also subtly and brilliantly references On the Come Up when two characters get excited over new music from Lawless, who readers of On the Come Up will know as Bri’s father. Also, like The Hate U Give, the title of Angie Thomas’ latest book, Concrete Rose is a reference to the rapper Tupac and his posthumous album The Rose That Grew from Concrete.
In Concrete Rose, Maverick Carter is simply trying to finish school and survive in life. With his King Lord father in prison, Maverick joined the street gang for protection, slinging drugs to help his mother with the bills and surviving but when he finds out he’s a father and he’s offered a chance to get out of the King Lords and go straight he takes it. He soon learns, however, that when being a King Lord is in your blood, walking away isn’t always as easy as it seems.
As with her previous two novels, Angie Thomas writes a gripping story which hook you immediately but also tackles some incredibly important themes and topics. Maverick and his family’s struggles to get by – despite his mother working several jobs – portrays the cycle of deprivation and how hard it can be to escape.
Thomas also tackles the systemic/ institutionalised racism and white supremacy which underpins much of society still, for example through Maverick’s eyes, she notes that schools in predominately Black areas – with therefore predominately Black students – are often named after White people who were slave owners and/or involved in the slave trade.
Thomas also explore some lighter more warming topics including the LGBTQIA+ community. In particular, the author focuses on the older generation of characters in the book, their relationships, coming out to family, and LGBT+ love.
Finally, and perhaps the most important message shared in Concrete Rose is the toxicity of the patriarchy and its influence of manhood. Angie Thomas’ Concrete Rose tackles and attempts to dispel the idea that men, especially Black men, need to always be strong for everyone around them. Through Maverick, she highlights how important it is for men to feel able to express their emotions.
Another fantastic novel from Angie Thomas, Concrete Rose absolutely follows in the footsteps of her previous two novels; The Hate U Give and On the Come Up and gives us even more insight into the fictional Carter family. Fingers crossed this novel also gets optioned for a film adaptation.
Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog
Added 12th February 2021