Has Angie Thomas done it again? Pretty much. Her third book--Concrete Rose–is the story of Maverick Carter, Star from THUG’s father. It’s a story about gang life, young ambition, teen fatherhood, and it’s so well-done. Thomas really creates such a resounding story with a fleshed out world, strong adherence to language and culture, it’s just a good book all around. I gave this one 4 stars, because while it’s good in general, it didn’t gut punch me like her other books did. But maybe I’m also thankful for that?
The novel begins with Maverick waiting for a phone call about a DNA test. He spent one night with the girl, Iesha, while he and Lisa were broken up–is Iesha’s baby his? Well…spoiler alert, it is, and when Iesha bails, Maverick ends up taking on the full care of Lil Man. He instantly goes from struggling high school student, selling drugs and doing gang things as is expected of him, to a father, having to find a way to take care of his son and get his life together. And then, when Maverick’s best-friend and cousin is killed, and Lisa announces she’s pregnant too, he’s got choices to make. Will he give into the lifestyle that’s expected of him or will he find a way to be his own man? Who will he be as a father–especially compared to his own father, who he visits in the prison three hours away. There’s a lot on the line, babies to be taken care of, and choices to be made.
I’ll be honest, I struggle with gang violence in books, because sometimes it makes me MAD and sometimes it stresses me out, and I was worried this book would be even more stressful in that sense then her previous two books because Maverick, as a dude, was more involved in this life, but it wasn’t too bad, for me at least. Dre’s death is tragic, obviously, and the ramifications of it create tense moments, but it wasn’t as “violent” as I was worried about, honestly. It’s an eye-opening read, especially if, obviously, you’re not as aware about gang expectations, growing up poor and struggling, etc, but I really enjoyed it. I was drawn into the world Thomas created on the page and I felt for Maverick along the way.
I also loved that this book portrayed, heavily, teen fatherhood. We see so many girls doing it alone, it was kind of–not cool, but interesting–to see the script get flipped.
Overall, I liked this book. It had a strong voice, I loved revisiting these characters, but I feel like the plot wasn’t as strong in this one and it was more character driven, which is fine, just something to keep in mind.
Concrete Rose is on sale everywhere January 12, 2021.