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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
I can only imagine how stressful it is to live up to a success like The Hate U Give when writing a second novel, but I was more than ready to pick up Angie Thomas's new book and read another great story. Once again in Garden Heights, we now follow the story of a young girl determined to save her family by starting a successful rap career.
The Truth Behind the Lyrics
I thought it was brilliant how we got to see Bri's mind turn words or phrases into lyrics, and eventually songs. I don't really listen to rap music, but if someone was to produce her music, I am definitely in! Beyond the excellent verse, it was really important that Thomas took the time to investigate how words matter. Bri rapping about how everyone assumes she carries a gun is easily manipulated by others to suggest that she is actually always carrying a gun, and this misconstruction is a huge problem with our society. We are quick to judge and place blame on others, and racial tensions across North America are rising because of it. Bri is shouting, trying to get people to understand what her life is like as a black female, but it's an uphill battle.
Treatment At School
As a teacher and a decent human, I was absolutely livid reading about what Bri goes through at her school. The harassment of her and all the Black and Latinx students by the so-called "security officers" is disgusting, and the fact that the school does nothing is beyond disgusting. I can't even talk about that ridiculous mom standing up at the PTA meeting and suggesting that because there are non-White kids at the school, obviously security is necessary. It's abhorrent to think that Thomas is basing her books and characters of the real experience of Black teenagers in America and THIS is what those students have to deal with at school every day. I can't imagine constantly feeling unsafe and on guard, which is one of the reasons I love Thomas's books. They shed light on aspects of life I'm simply not aware of or don't experience, and I hope that the more enraged we are at this treatment, the sooner we will see an end to it.
Not the Same Tension, But Still A Tense Story
When I was reading The Hate U Give, I felt like I was constantly holding my breath. I didn't know what was going to happening next and was anxiously waiting for Starr and her family to be safe. Although that same tension doesn't appear in On the Come Up, I don't think that makes the story less tense. Instead, there are simply more singular tense moments throughout the book that cause the reader to pause and hope that we're not about to get back news. This is the story of a family struggling to survive, and the day to day difficulty of trying to do that.
Angie Thomas has again given us an insightful story about the lives of teenagers across North America who are treated differently because of their race. She challenges readers to think about the judgements we put on others and to do better; we are humans. That is all. There shouldn't be different rules for people based on their skin colour and the fact that there is should upset us enough to put a stop to it. I'd highly recommend On the Come Up as a book that everyone should read.
FINAL RATING: 4/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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