Angie Thomas can do no wrong. I will auto buy everything she writes and to be honest you don't even have to tell me what it's about! Of the three books she's published so far, I've read each of them in a single day which is almost unheard of since I had kids, and I re-read The Hate U Give and On the Come Up pretty regularly - I think Concrete Rose will be joining them soon.
So, if you haven't read The Hate U Give then you should definitely rectify that, but whether or not you've read it, you can still read Concrete Rose, which is all about Maverick Carter and his story. The Hate U Give was inspired by the creation of Black Lives Matter and the Ferguson riots, so Concrete Rose takes place prior to that. The protagonist of The Hate U Give, Starr Carter, is Maverick's daughter, and Concrete Rose is all about his childhood and growing up and how he came to be the character that we know him as from THUG. In the acknowledgements Angie Thomas says she was inspired by Russell Hornsby's portrayal of Maverick in the film version to write this book, which is a really interesting way around for inspiration to happen (and I personally loved Hornsby in the role, despite initially thinking he might not be the Maverick of my imagination).
All of Angie Thomas's books so far have been set in the community of Garden Heights, so the set up of the story felt familiar to me from my knowledge of it, and of many of the characters in this story, from her other books. One of the things I enjoyed most about this story was how inter linked it was with The Hate U Give and On the Come Up. They all speak to each other without relying on each other so you can easily read Concrete Rose without having read either of the other books (although it probably works better if you read it after reading The Hate U Give) .
At the start of the story Maverick is playing basketball in a local park with some friends and the set up is that he is part of a gang, and has a legacy as the son of 'Big Don', his father having been in jail for the past ten years. He is selling drugs alongside his best friend King, hanging out with his girlfriend Lisa, and then some things happens (no spoilers for those who haven't read THUG yet) which pretty much turn his life upside down and put him on the path that we see him on in other stories.
Angie Thomas is such an incredibly beautiful and immersive writer, and I always race through her books - they drag me in usually from the first page and don't let go until I'm done. Her characters feel very real and are full of joy and sadness, hardship and exuberance, and really become living people that I want to stay with, which is part of the reason that I think this story works so well. You want to stay with the characters even when the story is done, and through the beauty of prequels, sequels and film versions, you get to do so.
In summary, you should read this book, and all of Angie Thomas's other books. You're welcome.
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