A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas (prequel to the highly acclaimed The Hate U Give, which won a Coretta Scott King Author Award and was adapted for a 2018 movie) is about what happens when 17-year-old Maverick suddenly has to care for a 3-month-old infant boy who's the product of a one-night stand. He's also dealing with a friend killed by a member of a rival gang, a father who's in prison, and troubles in school consequent to his personal problems. A teen boy dies after being shot in the head. Another teen is shot to death in a fight at school. A man serves a life sentence for murder. There are fistfights between teens. Prison guards are described beating inmates, and police are described beating suspects. Teens have intercourse. There are multiple discussions of masturbation and birth control. There are multiple teen pregnancies, and a teen couple openly discuss getting an abortion. The positive messages in scenes that include consent discussion are balanced with examples of poor decision making, such as the choice to have unprotected sex. The main character and numerous secondary characters are members of drug-dealing gangs. They sell marijuana, pills, cocaine, and heroin. A scene takes place in a crack house. In one scene, a boy goes to work stoned and his boss perceives his state. Strong language includes "damn," "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "nigga," and the "N" word.
What's the story?
When CONCRETE ROSE begins, 17-year-old Maverick is thrust into adulthood at the community clinic, when he gets DNA test results showing he fathered the 3-month-old baby of a young woman he had sex with once. The mother abandons the baby while he's changing the boy's diaper in the bathroom. Supported by his mom, an incarcerated but involved dad, his friends, and a local merchant who gives him a job, Maverick gives up dealing drugs and enthusiastically takes on the responsibilities of parenthood. Maverick's life becomes more complicated when his friend is killed by members of a rival gang and he gets yet another young woman pregnant.
Is it any good?
Clever, fun, and real, Maverick's story is a page-turner -- a cautionary tale about teen parenthood from the unusual perspective of a teen father. Concrete Rose is packed with thought-provoking material that never feels forced. It touches on sexual consent, Black male mental health, grief, parental incarceration, gang violence, and more. The author's command of dialect is impressive. After getting used to it in the first few pages, the voice seems strong and natural, as if the reader is truly in the main character's mind. The characters are all human and relatable. They have major flaws and make really dumb mistakes that bring serious consequences. They are also vulnerable, loyal, and -- in most cases -- motivated by positive intentions. Male and female characters, both adults and kids, are treated with equal respect.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between knowing what's right and doing what's right in Concrete Rose. How tough is it for the characters to make smart decisions?
What makes a good friend? A good boyfriend? A good parent?
The main character narrates his story in dialect. Did you enjoy this or not? How did the dialect influence how you understood the character's world?
- Author: Angie Thomas
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: January 12, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 19, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love coming-of-age stories and teen romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.