Title: Concrete Rose
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: 2021
Genre/Format of the Item: Book
2022 Michael L. Printz Honor Award
Reading Level/Interest Level:
Grades 9-12 (NoveList)
Plot Summary: Maverick Carter lives in the shadow of his King Lord dad, Big Don, a gang legend who has been in jail since Maverick was 8 years old. Maverick is trying to live up to his dad’s reputation but the older gang members don’t take him seriously. He has big plans to graduate high school and maybe get out of Garden Heights until the day he finds out he is the genetic father of a three month old little boy. Iesha, the baby’s mom, has post-partum depression and leaves Maverick to raise the baby on his own. Suddenly his life is not his own and he spends his days and nights taking care of his little boy Seven, named by Maverick after the number of perfection. The arrival of Seven into his life meant the departure of his beloved girlfriend, Lisa. As Maverick tries to balance school, a baby, a part-time job, and a drug business on the side, he finds himself nearly falling apart. Luckily, his cousin Dre spends time with Maverick and encourages him to leave the gang and move on with his life.
Maverick’s world falls apart again when Dre is shot and killed outside of Maverick’s home. Dead in his arms, Maverick vows retribution on the killer. Dre finds solace in a night with Lisa which results in a pregnancy. Now with his second baby on the way, Maverick finds himself unable to keep up with it all. Maverick asks to start dealing drugs with his friend King again in order to make more money. As his grades are falling, Maverick turns his focus on finding Dre’s killer. Through it all, Maverick’s mom is his stable rock and ultimate supporter. In a climactic scene, Maverick realizes that he can’t kill a man and decides to turn his life around for his kids.
I look at books as a form of activism. Sometimes they show us a side of the world that we might not have known about”–Angie Thomas(Thomas, n.d.-a)
Author Background: Angie Thomas was born and raised in Mississippi but currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Thomas received her BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University. She also was a teen rapper in her younger days. Her first book, The Hate You Give won numerous awards including the William C. Morris Debut Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (UK), and the Deutscher Jugendliterapreis (Germany) (Thomas, n.d.-b). The Hate You Give was made into a movie in 2000. Concrete Rose is Thomas’s fourth book.
Critical Evaluations: I really enjoyed reading this book. Maverick is the kind of character that readers immediately form an attachment with. Concrete Rose deals with some very serious subject matter but Thomas writes in such a way that the reader feels part of the story instead of being on the outside looking in. Thomas was able to offer her readers insight into the lives of teens drawn into gang violence and show the resilience that each teen must have to survive. I have not read many books that focus on teen fathers and I thought that Maverick was an engaging and relatable protagonist. I think that many teenagers will be able to relate to the characters in this book for different reasons. I also think that this book may offer a more positive viewpoint of teenage boys involved in gangs.
Creative Use for a Library Program: This book could be used in a library program for teens. The program would be a movie night featuring the movie adaption of Angie Thomas’s first book, The Hate You Give. Thomas’s books will be on display during the movie and afterwards when the teens will sit down with the teen librarian and discuss their reaction to the movie and Thomas’s books.
Speedround/Book Trailer: Maverick thinks he has it all: gorgeous girlfriend, decent grades, a little money making venture on the side until the day he learns that he is a father. This tumultuous story follows Maverick and his quest to become a “man”. Maverick will steal your heart and have you routing for his success! Read Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas to learn more!
Potential Challenge Issues/Defense Preparations: This book may face challenges from the subject matter including gang violence, drug use/sales, teen pregnancy, and homosexual references. I would defend this book as a necessary addition to any collection because I think that many teens will be able to identify with the characters and some of their challenges. Angie Thomas has given us the opportunity to understand the motivations and challenges of people who are involved in gangs or gang activity. This book is inspiring and offers hope in a world that many may not think hope could exist.
Reason for Inclusion: I decided to include this book because I wanted a diverse selection of authors and subject matter. Maverick is a character that teens will be able to relate to on many different levels and Angie Thomas is an amazing author.
Epic Reads. (2020, December 15). Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas: The official book trailer [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwdyA8Q6Jx4
Thomas, A. (n.d.-a). Books. https://angiethomas.com/books/
Thomas, A. (n.d.-b). About. https://angiethomas.com/about