ON THE COME UP
Written by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray, February 5, 2019
My star rating – 5 stars
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families. Find it on Goodreads
I think it’s now apparent that Angie Thomas is the queen of characters. Just like The Hate You Give, the characters were so real! Yes, the plot is amazing, but, for me, it’s the characters and their personalities that propel the reader. We see where these characters are now while also getting glimpses of their past and what made them who they are. All of these characters backgrounds are so varied. Some struggled HARD, while others were more blessed, and they all find themselves together, finding common ground, and being each other’s support. The characters are all a family and are willing to do what ever it takes to help each other. The journey of their lives is so heartwarming and comforting, despite the struggles. There is so much love and passion behind all of these characters!
I wanted to slap Bri though lol! I loved her – don’t get me wrong! But me, 36 years old, and a mother of two, saw her from the eyes of a mother…. a mother that wanted to slap her for her sometimes awful decisions. I wanted to shake her and tell her to smarten the hell up, which is exactly what her mother ends up doing lol. But, mistakes are sometimes how you learn – and she definitely did a lot of learning with those mistakes! Sometimes you need to make your own way to find out where you really belong.
The person I related to most (and also loved the most) was Bri’s mother. Such an amazing lady! She is a recovering addict trying to get herself back on her feet. She is the epitome of learning from your mistakes! She worked so hard for everything, and never gave up on her goals, no matter how hard it was. She proved that she was worth it and willing to do the work that came along with it. She took everything in stride, with a level head on her shoulders, and didn’t let anything phase her. I LOVED this woman!!
Like we saw in The Hate You Give, this book has a very important message. Many of them actually. A girl who wants to be a rapper more than anything, and all the work that comes with making it big. It also showcases the many different social aspects that come with making change. I’m white, so I don’t understand all of this in the way that the characters (or author) do, but living in a diverse area, it’s something I see every day. I grew up an hour from Detroit, 10 minutes away from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and i’m surrounded by Native Reservations. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such diversity. I’ve grown up learning about so many different cultures and ways of life. But, diversity aside, there’s always ignorance to overcome. This book does a fantastic job of showing the many different things that push and pull while in the process of making change. There’s a right and wrong way to go about it, and making the right decision is usually harder than lashing out at those who are ignorant.
If you loved The Hate You Give, then I know you’re going to love this one just as much!
Until next time, happy reading!