More Angie Thomas goodness. I loved The Hate You Give and On the Come Up, and was excited to read the prequel from the point of view of Starr Carter’s father, Maverick.
This was a quick read, no less impactful for what we already know about will happen to Mav, his girlfriend Lisa, and his two new babies. Because a lot of the backstory was only briefly touched on in THUG, there’s plenty to flesh out here, and I don’t think it’s only because of the five year gap between me reading each book that this one held up so well. There were only two small nitpicky things that I don’t think quite matched up to how they were described in the original novel (SPOILERS: Mav’s departure from the King Lords seemed much more clear cut at the end of Concrete Rose compared to how it was described in THUG, and, um, Lisa’s brother Carlos is a much bigger dick than I had been lead to believe).
The one real critique I have is that while it’s dramatically juicy to watch the 17-year-old Mav, flunking out of high school, short on cash with his dad in jail and his mom working two jobs, suddenly saddled with two different unplanned babies from two different mothers, deal with all of this conflict and arrive in some place new (you know, like how stories work 😆), the real work of dealing with the consequences of his decisions actually takes place in the gap between the two books. Again, I’m not sure how to talk about this without SPOILERS, but once he’s decided what he is willing to do, and not to do, to provide for his family and to be the person he wants to be, the hard part would be sticking to the low-paying working life without getting drawn back into drug dealing, actually getting his GED (not just signing up for classes), growing his relationship with Lisa until she’s ready to see him as a romantic partner again, dealing with the consequences of taking the fall for his cousin and going to jail for 3 years in order to finally cut ties with the King Lords. I wanted to see him put in the work, not just make the decisions! But this is a YA novel, not a 600 page slow-burn portrait of a man. So I guess it’s really just proof that Angie Thomas is a queen of making you want more, because I would happily spend more time with the protagonists of each of her novels so far.