On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
YA ∴ Contemporary ∴ Music >Rap/Hip Hop ∴ Black Lives Matter ∴ Trigger Warning: gun violence, fighting, drug abuse, death,
Published February 5th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
Hardback ∴ 447 pages
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.
I know I start a lot of reviews off with “WOW,” but WOW. Devoured in less than 24 hours, all while at work. There are only two authors that can get me so engrossed in contemporary, Tiffany D. Jackson, and Angie Thomas. Angie know exactly how to press the right buttons and get me all worked up, whether something good is happening or something bad, just a constant stream of chills up my spine and hot-face.
This was just so amazing. Watching Bri come into her own and learn to be herself and assert herself after living her whole life in her dad’s shadow. 30 pages in, I was rooting so hard for her, I wanted to get loud, but I was in the library so probably not a good idea.
When people asked me how I was liking the book, I told them that it *feels* just like THUG. What I mean by that is that the tone of voice, the atmosphere, the overall vibe feels like THUG. It feels comfortable. The way Angie writes is so familiar and safe, I guess I could say. Her characters are so relatable, and if you don’t relate to them, then you can easily empathize with them.
Can we talk about the raps in this book though? Chills, CONSTANTLY. I hope someone makes them into actual songs or that they do it in the movie because oh my god, I can’t deal. Also, I have a hard time putting a tune to written lyrics in a book, so I’d love to hear someone’s interpretation of them. Angie has a way with words, I tell you.
I love how there are small reminders that this is set in the same town as THUG. Bri often mentions “that boy who got shot,” and even says she wrote a song for him (another that I’d love to hear). Though On the Come Up is more of a small scale Black Lives Matter story, it’s good to be reminded of how shaken Garden Heights is after Khalil’s murder. Bri also mentions the businesses that were destroyed in the riots and the one that was saved because they put up a sign that says “Black Owned.” It all feels very real.
I really don’t feel like I’m doing this book justice, but I would have to spoil it if I talk to much. I love all the characters, especially Sonny and Trey, and I love the story line and the ending and I just love it. Obviously I’m gonna be following everything that comes from this book, hoping there’s music coming or something. Angie will always be high on my favorite author list and I can’t wait for more.
∴ 5 stars ∴