Angie Thomas returns to the Garden Heights neighborhood in Concrete Rose, a powerhouse prequel that explores the life of Maverick Carter, the father of The Hate U Give’s protagonist, Starr.
As the book opens in 1998, Maverick is a carefree 17-year-old kid. He’s happy to spend time with his girlfriend, joke around with his cousin and deal a bit for the King Lords alongside his best friend—just enough to help his mom bring in a little extra cash, since his dad has been in prison for nine years.
But when Maverick finds out he’s the father of a 3-month-old boy, his world changes in an instant. He accepts his responsibility on the day he receives the results of the paternity test and begins to raise the child, even as the boy’s mother disappears.
As the weight and exhaustion of fatherhood begin to add up for Maverick—on top of balancing high school, work, relationships with his friends and maybe-still girlfriend, and the sudden, violent killing of someone who was like a brother to him—Thomas chronicles the makings of a character that readers have only previously known as a mature man and father figure. Along the way, Maverick wrestles with loyalty, revenge, responsibility and the siren song of the streets—one that promises a fast life down a hard road to ruin. Thomas also reveals the meanings behind Maverick’s name and his children’s names and deepens our understanding of the resonance of Tupac’s lyrics in these characters’ lives.
The Hate U Give became a literary phenomenon because of the depth and authenticity of Thomas’ characters, and those elements shine once again in Concrete Rose. Though it can be read as a standalone work, this prequel adds so much to our understanding of The Hate U Give that reading them together will be especially rewarding.