On The Come Up by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 5th, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
“There’s only so much you can take being described as somebody you’re not.”
I had high expectations for On The Come Up because The Hate U Give has a spot on my list for favourite books I’ve ever read.
When I was reading On The Come Up, I felt the same way as when I felt reading THUG. I knew that this was special. That the words I was reading was going to change not just the publishing world, but also people’s perspectives.
On The Come Up is Thomas’ way of standing up and saying, “Young black women are enough. They are enough the way that they are.” And she expressed this in a talk that I attended of hers. She wanted the book to be a love letter to hip hop, but also to be able to critique it. She hoped that it would teach young black women that while society constantly tries to put them into a box to define them, they should know that they don’t need to change.
Bri is a teenager coming into her own. She’s bold, impulsive, and angry a lot of the times in this book. She pushed her family, friends, and her supporters away. She was pushed to her limits to consider giving up who she is for fame and fortune.
I fell in love with Bri. I can see why people might not connect with her as they did with Starr in THUG. But Bri is complicated and complex. It was delightful to see her evolve in her relationship with her art, her family, and the people she looked up to.
Thomas has such a way with words. I felt Bri’s pain as she realized her family was struggling, when she was losing her aunt to the drug world, when security guards at her school were targeting minority students, and when she was belittled in the hip hop world for being a girl.
But Bri continues on and soldiers through using hip hop. She expresses her thoughts and works through her feelings with her rhymes. And I absolutely loved the music elements to this book. I wish we got to see even more of Bri’s songs!
As with THUG, I can’t recommend this book enough. Even though it focuses on the hip hop industry, this book teaches all of us about sexism, racism, family dynamics, and how to stand up to find your voice.
I can’t wait to see this story interpreted for the big screen. And I certainly can’t wait to see what else Thomas has for us.
On a side note, I had the pleasure of seeing Thomas seek at an event. She was absolutely hilarious! I even got her to sign my copy of THUG. She’s an incredible woman and I hope she does more public speaking events because her stories and jokes are amazing!