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.
Scholastic Reading Counts
Gr 9 Up–Maverick “Lil Don” Carter is a 17-year-old King Lord growing up in the Garden Heights district. The King Lords have been in existence long before Maverick was born, so his life has always been steeped in gang culture. Maverick knows that the game can steal family, friends, and time from you. His father Adonis’s imprisonment is a testament to that fact. Maverick’s cousin Dre and his friend Shawn try to keep Maverick from falling too deep into the game, but Maverick’s best friend King keeps finding new ways to convince him to deepen his involvement. The unexpected joys and pains of fatherhood, the death of one of his best friends, and another unexpected pregnancy threaten to break Maverick’s tenuous hold on his own sanity. How can he cut ties with the King Lords, raise his son, prepare for another child, and maintain his independence? The pressure Maverick is under yields some startling blooms in this novel about tenacity and rebirth. This is the perfect example of a narrative that straddles the beauty and pain of belonging and having the courage to make your own choices. Maverick Carter, who is Black, is a wonderfully complex character who will resonate with readers of all stripes. Thomas writes with a depth of humor and clarity that really allows readers to bond with the characters. VERDICT This prequel to The Hate U Give is perfect for public and school libraries.–Desiree Thomas, Worthington Lib., OH
One of the most dynamic characters in Thomas’s acclaimed The Hate U Give (rev. 3/17) is family patriarch Maverick Carter. In this prequel, seventeen-year-old Mav has joined his incarcerated father’s gang for protection and is secretly selling drugs with his best friend. The situation isn’t ideal, but it provides young Mav with everything he wants in life…until he discovers he’s a father. Suddenly a single parent to a three-month-old, Mav reevaluates the life he needs to live for his son (and that’s just the first major complication), but he quickly discovers that leaving his old life without consequences isn’t an option, while outside pressures build to a tragic event. Authentic to the point of heartbreak, Maverick’s voice is earnest as he wrestles with his decisions. Even as his behavior swings chaotically between virtue and violence or near-violence, Mav’s main motive remains consistent throughout—to protect and honor his loved ones. Fans of Thomas’s work will not be disappointed in this intense portrayal of this phase in the Carter family’s story. EBONI NJOKU