Concrete Rose

HarperAudio. Oct. 2021. 817p. $23.99. ISBN 9780063043817.
Gr 9 Up–This prequel to Thomas’s The Hate U Give takes listeners back 17 years to the story of Maverick Carter when he was just a teenager navigating life in a gang he never really wanted to be in, becoming a father before he graduated high school, and losing people who were there to protect and guide him. As a Black young man coming of age in a neighborhood run by gangs, Mav must make choices that no teen should have to make, growing up long before he is actually grown in age. The audiobook puts the listener front and center in the choices and the events that shaped Maverick Carter, what helped him become the man and the strong father figure he is in The Hate U Give. Narrated by Dion Graham, Maverick’s voice is strong, and Graham personalizes his every thought, emotion, and reaction in a way that draws the listener into his mind, bringing the character to life. Listeners hear the emotion in Maverick’s thoughts and how he has to put on a tough front for others, despite not feeling tough or strong at all. The audiobook is a gut-wrenching, emotional journey through Maverick’s coming-of-age, and an authentic way to experience the story.
VERDICT Fans of Thomas and the world she has created will enjoy the nods to the The Hate U Give; being introduced to characters and places referenced previously brings this prequel home to listeners. A must have for all YA audio collections.

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