Book Review: Concrete Rose – Angie Thomas

Publisher: Walker Books
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 12th, 2021

Rating: 5/5 Stars

On the Come Up Review

Is three books too early to call an author one of the greatest of their generation? Because after Concrete Rose, I really think Angie Thomas is. And she’s apparently working on a Fantasy novel, which has made me so happy!

Concrete Rose is a sort of prequel to The Hate U Give, and is also apparently ‘Historical Fiction’, which means I am officially old. Set sixteen years before the events in T.H.U.G, Concrete Rose is the story of Maverick, Starr’s father. This story takes place shortly before Starr is born, as Maverick tries to decide what kind of man he wants to be.

Mav finds out he’s a father, and realises what that really means as he takes care of Seven, who depends on him for everything. Not only is Mav struggling with being a father, he is doing this in a world that expects him to amount to nothing, where even the smallest goals seem out of reach. This is definitely a side we don’t normally see in YA – a glimpse of the parent’s life, an in-depth exploration of what makes them who they are, divorced from their teenage child (in this case, Starr). Mav’s story is uninfluenced by Starr to a point, yet the steps he takes and what he experiences shapes the man he becomes, and the father we see in The Hate U Give.

It’s an honest portrayal, and just like in her debut and On the Come Up, Thomas doesn’t shy away from the truth. Mav, as the son of a King Lord, is expected to be a part of them, and is even encouraged by his parents to join to ensure he is protected. But that (of course) doesn’t make him a bad person, and he is trapped by his circumstances, struggling to find a way out and prove he’s different. We know from Starr’s story that Mav is a dedicated father, a thoughtful man, and someone who has made mistakes, mistakes which, compared to his white contemporaries, he will be more severely punished for.

Thomas is an absolutely fantastic writer, really bringing characters to life on the page. Her writing has this ability to wrap around you, with vivid, complex and real characters. There’s a lot here for fans of her previous two books to pick up on, but it’s still not so saturated that it’s inaccessible to new readers. I’m really glad Thomas decided to write Mav’s story; it’s an important addition to YA, by an author who has become a must-read for me. It’s easy to connect to Mav as a character, and this is a brilliant coming-of-age tale as he grows and learns from his mistakes. There’s also the addition that we know, really, what comes next for him, which makes some elements of the book that little bit more tense.

If you haven’t read Angie Thomas yet, you are seriously missing out. An excellent author, and I cannot wait to see what she releases next.

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