Concrete Rose

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concrete rose by angie thomas

In Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas 17 year old, Mav's world is drugs, girls, gangs, and now fatherhood. Can he make a life for himself?

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

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.---from the publisher

320 pages                              978-0062846716                             Ages 14 and up

Keywords:  backstory, African American, African American author, boyhood, manhood, gangs, fatherhood, high school, finding yourself, believing in yourself, revenge, loyalty, choices, 14 year old, 15 year old, 16 year old, drugs, drug dealing, drug culture, diversity, diverse books, Black Lives Matter

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How does it feel to be a 17-year old Black guy growing up with a father in prison, a mother who works two jobs to keep them in food and electricity, and a secret life as a drug dealer?  Maverick thinks he has it all under control.  But there are cracks in his house of straw.

Mav's father, Big Don, was a drug dealer. Mav's father  had a reputation in the streets as a tough guy.  His reputation got him all the way to prison leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.

Now it's Mav's turn.  Mav's life is about to get complicated.  It's about to get even more complicated than being part of a gang, being a drug dealer, and being known as Lil Don, a guy who is nothing like his father - no tough guy here - because Mav and his mother are headed down to get the results of his DNA test.  He's about to find out he's the father of Iesha's baby.  They only had sex once and it was just to make him feel better when his girlfriend, Lisa,  broke up with him.  Turns out that once was enough and now Mav adds being responsible for a baby to every hour of his day.

Mav is in a tough place.  His neighborhood is made of King Lords and Garden Disciples.  The guys who have money are the ones who are selling drugs.  Nobody gets out of the gang without getting hurt badly one way or another.  So, what choice does a guy have?

If you've read Jason Reynolds' A Long Way Down, then you know that the choice the reader has in that story is to follow the rules you've been told or to make your own path and follow your own rules.  Concrete Rose is about a teenage boy who is up to his eyebrows in that culture, that world, and a neighborhood that hands him all kinds of rules and mirrors for himself.

Mav's a smart kid. He's smart enough to look at his own father and see how his choices affected his son.  Now it's up to Mav.... what is he going to choose?  Is he going to let the world around him decide who to be, how to be?  Or is he going to reach inside of himself and make a different choice?

Neither choice is easy.  But roses are strong. They can even grow in concrete.... a Concrete Rose.   Hey Mav, you coming?

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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