New book ‘Concrete Rose’ offers insight on learning to thrive in challenging situations

Angie Thomas’ “Concrete Rose” offers the backstory on Starr Carter from “The Hate U Give.” (Fair use from Epic Reads)

Fans of Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give” will find her new book “Concrete Rose” to be the prequel they have been waiting for.

Readers have already learned about the life of Starr Carter in the present day, but Thomas has only alluded to the backstory of Starr’s father, Maverick Carter, before he got out of a gang and built a life for himself and family. Her new book delves into the complicated life of young Maverick when he suddenly becomes a father at just 17 years old. It focuses on him and his family dealing with the new addition and the quick loss of his remaining teenage years.

Over the course of the book, readers see Maverick grow after facing many unexpected challenges with his family, schooling and plans for the future. After he becomes a father, he changes himself for the better by finding a job that does not involve his gang, the King Lords. He has to learn the struggle of hard work, managing funds and continuing to help out his mother, who is working two jobs to support their family.

As if becoming a father was not enough, Maverick unexpectedly loses a family member and has to go through grief, pain and confusion, all while moving forward so that his family thinks he is as strong as before. It is difficult to read how he and his family are unable to catch a break from everything that life throws at them.

The book is broken up into three parts, each named after cycles that roses go through (Germination, Growth and Dormancy). Each of these parts relate to what is happening in Maverick’s life and how he changes by the end of the book. The allusions to flowers are very thoughtful, especially the notion that roses grow in the toughest conditions and comparing that to his character.

The book effectively delves into Maverick’s thoughts and feelings. All throughout, he faces new challenges and learns to pull himself back up even when it is hard. He remains strong in front of his family and his friends, but readers can see when the challenges become too much and he cannot hold back anymore.

The only thing I did not like was how quickly his fatherhood was introduced. It would have been better to introduce his normal life more so readers could see a greater change in his personality. He was suddenly stuck inside every night because of a newborn baby, and his days of being a normal teenager were gone.

Overall, this book is a great read. It opens readers’ perspectives to different challenges that people face, such as becoming a teen parent and starting adulthood early. Maverick’s story shines light on the true resilience of people to make the best of a situation, even in the toughest of times.