Angie Thomas has managed to blow the minds of her readers once again. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give (T.H.U.G) set the bar high. However, Concrete Rose is what readers expect of a follow up novel. Thomas manages to delicately narrate the nuance of Black life from the perspective of her main characters who are young adults.
The Hate U Give is about Starr Carter, a 16-year-old Black girl that lives in a poor Black neighborhood, but attends a suburban prep school. Both are seemingly two worlds apart. In her neighborhood after a party, she witnesses her best friend be unnecessarily killed at the hands of a police officer. She is dealing with white people who do not understand her other life and Black people who are angry about what happened to a precious Black boy. As the events following the murder unfold, we are introduced to many characters one of them being Maverick Carter. He is Starr’s father. Maverick is an image of a Black man that we do not see often. He is a Black man who owns his flaws. He acknowledges his past and shares his story. He is protective over his children. He is soft with them when needed, but is also stern.
Before Maverick became a mentor to someone, he was also mentored. Before he was patient, loving, understanding, and protective over his children someone was that way with him. In Concrete Rose Thomas gives us a backstory to Maverick that lets us in on how he became the man he is in T.H.U.G. What I love most about Concrete Rose is that it does not feel like a forced narrative. While his daughter was navigating two lives, one of privileged white children and another of Black pain, Maverick was navigating how to manage day to day. He is learning when making decisions a person can either reap the benefits or the consequences of that choice. Examples of that are all around him.
I recommend reading The Hate U Give first before picking up Concrete Rose. There is something enjoyable about seeing where a character currently is and deciding if you like them or not. Then reading their backstory and asking yourself, if your feelings changed about that character. Do you understand them now? What is the difference/ similarities between the character’s younger and older self? Although this is a young adult novel I would recommend it to anyone. I also think this is a good book for parents to read with their children. Of course check your local library or buy from a local bookstore.