Angie Thomas has been one-to-watch in YA since The Hate U Give was released in 2017. While she has since had another book out, fans have been itching for more about the characters from her debut, and this year we got our wish: Concrete Rose, the story of Big Mav before parenthood and his coming-of-age as he deals with the slings and arrows of fortune.
Like many fans, I was compelled by Starr’s parents in The Hate U Give. They and their generation had such an intricate backstory and a gravity to them. In so many YA books, parents are absent, present as obstacles, or blandly supportive, but Lisa and Maverick have such life. While prequels can be a bit of a toss-up, I was excited to get my hands on this one. I was not disappointed.
Mav’s story, while in many ways more tragic than Starr’s, has many parallels to that of his daughter. Maverick experiences a huge loss, and that shapes the way he lives his life. But, ultimately, he does the hard, right thing, much like Starr does. Starr’s fight is for justice, while Mav’s is for survival. His story also shows why he is so determined to keep his kids out of the streets, given the effects it had on his life, and the lives of the people he loves. We see Mav growing into the man and the father he wants to be, and moving away from the people who influence him to be otherwise.
I was a little surprised that the book ended where it did- I guess given that it’s about Mav coming to terms with his roots and his desire for more, it ends succinctly with him confirming he wants to leave the King Lords, but given how much backstory there is to cover, I was a bit taken aback that the story winds up so soon. The journey for Mav is about deciding to pursue a different life, and so the ending does work, even if you might want more. I think my favorite part was reading about young Lisa, who is as much a spitfire as you would expect. Maverick’s mother Faye and his other family members were also wonderful supporting characters, and they really flesh out a world that is already so full of life.
I unreservedly recommend this book to any fans of Angie Thomas’ other work, it’s a wonderful read, and honestly worth buying if only for the gorgeous cover. Potential trigger warnings include: unintended pregnancy, gang violence, drugs, and gun violence.
Concrete Rose can be purchased wherever books are sold, or borrowed from your local library. Chamber of Spoilers always encourages folks to try to buy from independently owned bookstores.