6 books that inspired Angie Thomas' latest novel
The author of The Hate U Give recommends works by Tupac Shakur, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and more
Angie Thomas is the author of The Hate U Give, a young-adult best-seller since its 2017 release. Below, she names six books that were touchstones as she wrote Concrete Rose, a prequel featuring Starr Carter's father when he was only 17.
The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur (1999).
This is a collection of poetry written by Tupac before he became a star. The autobiographical title poem, which inspired my novel's title, movingly describes the beauty and resilience that can be found in so many young Black men; beauty and resilience that are often overlooked.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley (1965).
Malcolm X's biography shares his beginnings as a hustler known as Detroit Red and his rise as a civil rights leader who despite his early death continues to influence movements for social justice.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers (1999).
I am able to write the young adult novels that I write only because of Walter Dean Myers. Monster is a modern classic. Through a combination of screenplay excerpts and diary entries, it tells the story of 16-year-old Steve Harmon as he awaits trial for murder, and shows us the dehumanization that Black boys often endure, especially within the justice system.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (2017).
Long Way Down is a masterpiece from one of the best authors that children's literature has ever seen. Told in verse, it follows a young boy, Will, as he takes an elevator ride on his way to avenge his brother's murder. But over the course of the ride, he encounters the spirits of those he's lost to gun violence. Haunting but necessary.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015).
Although Coates wrote this book as a letter to his Black son, it is also a letter to all Black boys, and to all of us, about what it truly means to be Black in America.
Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (2020).
Anyone who follows me on social media knows that Nic Stone is one of my best friends, but she's also one of my favorite authors. Her phenomenal follow-up to 2017's Dear Martin tells the story of Quan, a young man incarcerated and accused of murder. More than that, it's a story of Black boyhood, the ways in which the system fails boys like Quan, and how we can create a better world for them.
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.