Read: CONCRETE ROSE by Angie Thomas

I expected to love CONCRETE ROSE the minute I started the book. After all, I was already a fan of Angie Thomas‘s earlier books.

I picked up her debut book THE HATE U GIVE for a long flight and was soon transfixed. I listened nearly nonstop until I got to the last words. Narrator Bahni Turpin read those words with such passion, I was completely hooked.

When I heard she’d published a new book, ON THE COME UP I was quick to get that audiobook, too. Especially when I saw Bahni Turpin was the narrator. Very different, very good.

Starr and Seven and Maverick and all the rest made such an impression on me I was thrilled to hear Ms. Thomas was writing a prequel about Maverick. I got in line for that one too. From the dedication to the last words, I was totally enthralled by this novel.

The first nine and a half chapters are the sweetest, gentlest ode to a young father—all young fathers. I think everybody ought to read it. It’s so full of love and tenderness. No judgment here—even if Maverick is only a 17-year-old high school senior, even if he really screwed up, he’s surrounded by people doing their best to help him and his little man succeed. And wait until you read how Seven got his name. So adorable.

Then it gets real. Heart-breaking, heart-wrenching, the book addresses life in a gang and violent city streets. But it remains at heart, a book of a young man learning to be a man, surrounded by love, some of it tough. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the images of Maverick changing Seven’s diaper for the first time or dealing with school, a part-time job and a baby who doesn’t sleep at night.

Like the other two books, I listened to the audiobook. This one is recorded by Dion Graham, who brought the story to life. He read with sweetness, a sense of humor and teenage boy bravado that sounded perfect to me.

Loved it. Recommend it. Think everyone should read this story so full of respect and love for a young father.

Here’s Angie Thomas’s dedication of this marvelous book: For all the roses blooming in concrete, keep blossoming. Something to think about, right?

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