Concrete Rose is the prequel to The Hate You Give. If you haven’t read either yet, you are massively missing out. These books are soul-moving story magic and so powerful. Angie has a way of connecting you to her characters, of making you feel the feels; I’m gonna bet on a rib plate from Reuben’s that Concrete Rose will (at the very least) have you tearing up. Tears and emotions are a big theme in Concrete Rose, by the way. See how nicely I segued there?
“Son, one of the biggest lies ever told is that black men don’t feel emotions. Guess it’s easier not to see us as human when you think we’re heartless. Fact of the matter is, we feel things. Hurt, pain, sadness, all of it. We got a right to show them feelings as much as anybody else.”
The story is set in Garden Heights in 1998 (lots of 90s vibes and) focuses on seventeen-year-old Mav (Maverick). Those who’ve read THUG will know exactly how he ties into the story world, but for those who haven’t, I don’t want to give anything away. (You can read Concrete Rose as a true prequel before picking up THUG). It’s the last days of summer before senior year, and for Mav, life is a kind of unencumbered perfect until a DNA test confirms he’s got a three-month-old son, who is then left in his care.
Mav’s mom is amazing. She’s totally no-nonsense, and Mav is (at every point) more afraid of her than the King Lord gang, but she’s got nothing but love and support for her son (Mav’s father is serving forty to life). The teenage dad struggles are real, and Mav struggles to find his own path in the shadow of the gang and his own dad’s larger-than-life image. His dad is a legend in the King Lord gang. Maverick? He’s too soft, not hard enough. Does that make him less of a man, less of a father to his son?
“The apple don’t fall far from the tree, but it can roll away from it. It simply need a little push.”
Should he let himself roll away?
Powerful themes of identity and family, loss and grief. An absolute firecracker of a read!
Book: Concrete Rose
Published: Walker Books
Publication Date: January 12th, 2021
Pan Macmillan South Africa kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.