Concrete Rose

Angie Thomas (Walker)

Concrete Rose

Review by Chloe
I enjoyed this book so much – despite the serious topics covered it was still easy to get through. Maverick was one of my favourite characters in this book with him appearing in the sequel to this story ‘The Hate U Give' so it was interesting seeing his backstory. His character development throughout the book was clear – with him going from a young adult in a gang with no responsibilities to a respectful adult with two children and a job.

This book was set in 1998 but despite the lack of mobile phones or social media gangs were still a huge problem in society at the time. Something that surprised me about this time period was the amount of permitted racism in this book with every single Black character whether small or big facing prominent racism throughout their life and no one saying anything or not allowing that to happen despite it not being set many years ago. It was interesting seeing the different methods of communication used – at one point Maverick desperate to get hold of Lisa had to resort to leaving a note in her mailbox putting an interesting unknown to them challenge.

The plot of this book was very moving with Maverick navigating his life without his cousin and having to face up to being a father at such a young age – with his own father being in prison. Despite this, the book handled these topics in a way that made it accessible for younger people but not bruising them off. Since reading this book I have since read the sequel ‘The Hate U Give’ which also is about racism and police brutality. I would recommend this book to anyone – it is an amazing book that opens your eyes about the systematic oppression black people face then and applicable to recent times with the 2020 protests about police brutality.

Review by Michelle 
Angie Thomas is such a talented writer and I loved reading Concrete Rose. I think the most special thing about her writing is just how real it is. It's not just that she depicts realistic situations and people, but that her stories feel real. Like these things are happening and you can see and feel these character's frustrations and struggles. You can so clearly understand their emotions and their situations. 

Maverick was a character I really loved in that book so to get a book entirely focused on him and see all he went through it, I really enjoyed it. It showed how strong he was from the very beginning, he loved his children and was an amazing father, despite the circumstances. All of the other characters were equally wonderful, however minor. Angie Thomas puts so much life and personality into every single character interaction that it's hard not to feel like you know them all on some personal level.

I thought that even though there wasn’t a ton of super dramatic moments it still had enough to keep me intrigued and the characters were distinctive enough that I wanted to know where they ended up.

It's a story that shows all the good and the bad that exists in real life places like Garden Heights. It shows the complexities, the tragedies, and the triumphs, of people whose stories have rarely gotten told. And it does all of this without either praising or demonizing it, but rather showing it all as it is. I think that's where the realism comes from. All of the problems don't get solved in the end. Bad things continue to exist even after our heroes are triumphant. It's real life. 

Overall, I am more than happy that I read this book and I’d definitely read it again, Concrete Rose really represented Angie Thomas in an amazing way that I bought other books written by her after reading this.

Review by Netanya
I enjoyed the book immensely due to writing style, it was very engaging and helped me understand the character narrating the story; by using dialogue he would in real life. Set in 1998, the author was able to bring you to the time effectively. Good references to music and trends of the 90s. The relationship Maverick (protagonist and narrator) had with all characters, especially his mum and Lisa, were interesting and complex, which added extra depth to the story. This book made me sympathise with struggles in their neighborhood and issues they faced in greater detail. I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoyed The Hate U Give as it is the prequel and those interested in gang life in 90s America.

Review by Mia
Concrete Rose is a book about Maverick. If you’ve read The Hate U Give then you know this is Starr’s father.

The book is set in the 90s so it does not feel like this happened very long ago and is based on the experience of Maverick, who is 17 years old and trying not to get in trouble.

I really liked to learn how people would communicate with their friends in the 90s as they could not just send a snap.

I felt really bad for Maverick, especially because of how much he thought about how to be a man and how to handle his emotions. I know boys don’t always think they can cry or feel they should not. Mr. Wyatt was also a very nice character as he cared so much!

One thing I do think is that this book can be quite intense and deals with a lot of mature things so I do think you have to be a little older to read it.

Overall, I would recommend this book. 

Review by Denisa
The most interesting character was Lisa. While she herself doesn’t appear often, she’s mentioned quite a lot by the main character. She’s portrayed as almost somehow “better” than Maverick and the King Lords yet she always finds herself pulled back to them. She chooses to go back yet when she becomes pregnant she goes back to the idea that she’s “better” than him (although some of this will be concerns of safety).

One character I didn’t like was King. I could see why everything that made me dislike him was there but it didn’t stop me. He’s constantly trying to pull Maverick into stupid situations. “Hey, let’s go deal harder drugs! Hey, let’s go to a party! Yeah, I know you got a kid to take care of but there’s a party!”. He was a teenager who really, really needed help. And he wasn’t getting it. But the fact that he didn’t want the help, I think made me dislike him.

I suppose historically, it’s a more recent thing. It’s set a little while after Tupac’s death so about 1998 I imagined. I think what shocked me was how easy it was to forget that. If it wasn’t for the reference to Tupac’s death being recent and the Boyz II Men CD and cassette tapes and Kobe being new to basketball, you wouldn’t imagine it wasn’t happening today. The fact that 2 decades later, not a lot seems to have changed and you could completely imagine black kids being failed by the system, having to make ends meet, getting into trouble because society put them in that situation in the first place, it’s shocking. I think the fact that the references are so few and far between makes it like that; just as you forget it’s not a modern day story, you’re reminded. 

What most stood out was the writing style. It was incredibly conversational but it was written in AAVE. And that intrigued me. It was entirely how Maverick spoke and it made sense. The writing style/language really really intrigued me. Part of it, the slang writing, is what made me love it because I imagine that for black Americans who do speak AAVE, it must’ve made them feel incredibly represented to see how they speak portrayed accurately in the media.

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