Review | Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose

by Angie Thomas

YA Historical Fiction

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If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.


Oh God, where do I even start with this book? I loved it. I loved it so much. I have always been a big fan of Angie Thomas, particularly On The Come Up, so when I heard she was writing a prequel to The Hate U Give all about Maverick, I was ecstatic. I had a feeling it was going to be great, and I was not disappointed.

If you don’t already know, Concrete Rose is set seventeen years before The Hate U Give, and it follows Starr’s dad Maverick when he was a teenager, when he first found out that he was a father to her older brother Seven. Already involved in the drug scene in Garden Heights, he’s determined to go straight to be a proper parent to his kid, but it isn’t as easy as he thinks.

I really loved this. There was so much heart and emotion threaded throughout from start to end, and it felt like I was immediately connected to Maverick as a character from the very first page, which I think is so important for a novel. I really felt for him and his situation, and just the way Thomas wrote his character made him seem so three-dimensional and I was so invested in following his story and his determination.

I also thought the story itself was really gripping, and full of shocking twists and turns that kept me turning the page. When I first heard about this, as much as I was excited, I wondered where she could go with this book, but it felt almost completely natural, like this was a story that needed to be told.

I loved also seeing Maverick, a Black man so open and vulnerable with his feelings. This is something discussed in the book that isn’t seen enough, so I’m really happy that Thomas brought this to life in Concrete Rose and want to see more of this in YA too!


Top Three Thursday #5: Diverse Books

Hey everyone! I’m back with another Top Three Thursday and this week I’m going to be putting the spotlight on my three favourite diverse books!


RS

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets. It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

Diversity includes: 3 of the 5 main characters are POC and none of the main characters are straight! Demisexual, bisexual, asexual and gay representation!


THUGSixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
 

Diversity includes: 95% of characters in this are POC!


 

TUOU

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. 

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Diversity includes: fabulous representation of a fat MC, various ethnicities and riddled with great rep for the LGBTQ community!

 

What are some of your favourite diverse books?

Review: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

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Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: 6th April 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 438
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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
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Well. Wow, is all I really have to say. I could gush about this book for hours on end if you asked me. It really was, truly incredible.
Honestly, I don’t know how I managed to pull of getting a UK copy so early. I ordered it off BD, but had ordered the one that came out on the US release date, so I safely assumed it would be the US copy. But I ended up getting the UK copy when it’s not even yet.
But, whatever, because I’m certainly not complaining. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. And what was on the inside, well…it was a masterpiece.


“At an early age I learned that people make mistakes, and you have to decide if their mistakes are bigger than your love for them.”


I’ve been looking forward to this for a loooooong time and it did not disappoint. Not even close. Let’s start with Starr. Such an amazing, badass teen voice who I will never forget.
And you know why? Because of her voice. The best part of this book is the voice because it’s so real and honest and strong and you can just hear Starr, as if she were standing right beside you in real life. It focuses so much on family too which is so beautiful and uplifting because it’s something that’s so important to Starr. This is incredibly well written. Confronts the issue of race and police brutality towards black people and class so well and it sends such a powerful message to its readers.
I would urge this onto the hands of everyone I know. It’s life-changing and eye-opening. I really cannot recommend it enough.
Although the story is dark and will at time leave you in tears, there’s so much humour in it and I was grinning through some parts of this amazing book.

This is definitely going to get 5 stars out of 5 from me and I’m so so glad that it’s ended up on the #1 New York Times Bestseller because it sure as hell deserves it!!