‘Concrete Rose’ Subverts Harmful Stereotypes in Compelling Story

Book Review


published by Balzer + Bray

Alana Thompson, Staff Writer

“The Hate U Give”  by Angie Thomas is and always will be one of my favorite books. As a black girl in this day and age, I felt so seen and heard through those pages. I’ve always found it challenging to find literature that tells a story that I can relate to. So after finding “The Hate U Give,” I was thrilled!

I’m sure that many people have been disappointed by the lack of acceptable representation they see in their favorite shows, movies, and books. So, I would like to recommend a book that I believe tells a story with different themes that many people can relate to: “Concrete Rose,” written by Angie Thomas, the same author who wrote “The Hate U Give.”

“Concrete Rose” follows the life of Maverick Carter, the father of Starr Carter, the main character of “The Hate U Give,” seventeen years before the events of the first book. While “The Hate U Give” tells a story full of racism and injustice, “Concrete Rose” tells the story of a young black man struggling to support his family the honest way by working hard instead of selling drugs like so many others. 

This book takes place during Maverick’s senior year of high school. He is the son of a former gang legend, so he’s expected to follow in his footsteps, he successfully sells drugs on the side while balancing schoolwork, friendship, and his relationship with his girlfriend Lisa. That is until he finds out that he has a son, Seven.

Now Maverick is forced to balance fatherhood along with the struggles that come with being a teenager going into adulthood. It’s hard, but the love that Maverick has for his son pushes him to keep going in order to give him the life he deserves. Everything seems to be going okay for him until the loss of a loved one takes a drastic toll on him. Crippled by a need for revenge, Maverick struggles to figure out what course of action is the right thing to do for him and his family.

This story is truly inspiring and deals with many topics that people can relate to. Thomas somehow manages to give us a prime example of black stereotypes–a teen father and a drug dealer–but also pushes against those stereotypes with a dedicated black father who would do anything for his child. I have seen very few depictions of single fatherhood in a variety of entertainment, especially not teenage single fatherhood. While I cannot directly relate to this experience, I can understand how important it is to find relatable pieces of literature. Seeing other people go through the same life experiences as you can help you to feel better about your situation and can help you to feel less alone, even if the characters are fictional.

Also, the way that “Concrete Rose” talks about the struggles that come with being a black man is phenomenal. One of my favorite moments from this book speaks what I believe to be a very truthful statement about how black men are seen. Mr. Wyatt, the grocery store owner who gives Maverick a job to help support his family, tells Maverick, who is struggling to cry after the death of a loved one, “Son, one of the biggest lies ever told is that Black men don’t feel emotions. Guess it’s easier to not see us as human when you think we’re heartless.”

Maverick constantly deals with trying to “be a man” throughout this novel, and for him being a man means being the shoulder that everyone else can lean on and keeping his emotions to himself.  This moment really resonated with me because even though I am not a black man, I have seen how the system tries to paint them as dangerous and wild so that it’s easier for everyone to turn their backs on them. 

This book brought so many emotions out of me and allowed me to see and learn about a life that is very different from my own. I thoroughly believe that if you can relate to any of this book’s themes, you should pick it up as soon as possible.