A review by paigedc
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas


If you've been living under a rock and haven't read The Hate U Give, it's time to start there. The story of Starr finding her voice in the wake of police brutality and divisive violence is a must. Concrete Rose is the prequel, the origin story of Starr's father Maverick and how he came to be the influential man in her life. It was a very tough road for him.

Growing up male in Garden Heights means that you are likely destined to 1) belong to a gang, 2) sell drugs, 3) die young, 4) struggle. Mav embodies several of these stereotypes, already a member of a gang, flunking out of high school, witnessing his best friend's murder, and fathering two kids with two different girls--all before he's 18. Through this book, we see him struggle to make ends meet, work a basic job and "sling" on the side, and wonder if his life will ever end up being different. It's cool to read how his life ebbs and flows, knowing how things are in The Hate U Give.

Angie Thomas is an excellent writer, and she completely captures an entirely different voice from Starr here in Mav's book. It's written in a slang style, perfect for someone in his situation. It is raw and honest, and Thomas chooses to examine how the toxic cult of masculinity influences Mav. He's taught to "keep his head up", to not cry, to do what he has to do, to keep his feelings in check, etc. It's a very insightful look into how men (especially what I presume inner-city Black men) are taught to act.

You really should read T.H.U.G., and then go back for this one. They're eye-opening and powerful.