On the Come Upby Published 05 Feb 2019
|On the Come Up.pdf|
|Publisher||Balzer + Bray|
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.
"On the Come Up" Reviews
Aunt Pooh said I only get one chance to let everybody and their momma know who I am.
So I take it.
How do you follow a book like The Hate U Give?
Reading THUG, I got the impression that I was experiencing something momentous. It was breathtaking. Important. I was witnessing a person using their art to say loud and clear “ENOUGH.” On the Come Up looks at some of the same things, but it is a different kind of book. I think, however, it is a book which shows that Thomas is a great writer, not just someone who can ride the wave of an important issue.
Overall, people will probably like this book less than the author's debut. I've already seen some (understandable) comments about how Bri was a tough character to like compared with Starr. And it's true. Starr is a much easier character to like. She's a clear victim of a screwed-up system; clearly in the right for the whole book. She has very basic easy-to-relate-to relationships with her parents and friends and we are never asked to sympathize with hard-to-like characters. Bri is much more complex.
For me, though, she was a far more interesting character than Starr. Her story may not make quite the same impact - being largely about hip hop rather than police shootings - but she herself felt like such an authentic teen voice. She's angry, resentful, impulsive, and outright rude at times. She gets into fights and doesn't play nice. She has a difficult relationship with pretty much everyone in the book. She pushes her family and supporters away, but believes she is doing it to get “on the come up” for them. She considers giving up important parts of herself for a shot at fame and fortune.
I can see why some people won't like her, but I actually kinda loved her.
I felt every bit of her pain and anger as she watches her family scrape together to try to pay the bills, watches her aunt buried deep in the world of drug dealing, watches security at her school targeting black and Latinx students for searches, watches male rappers make sexist jokes or erase her name and voice because she is a girl. And I loved how she turns to hip hop to make sense of her feelings, finding rhymes in her everyday life and spinning clever verses in her head.
As someone who finds books about music a bit hit and miss, I have to say this one was a definite hit. I would have welcomed even more rap. You can tell the author used to be a rapper because Bri's songs are genuinely very good. I'd love to hear them recorded. I also love how she addresses sexism and double standards in the hip hop industry, and points out the ludicrous hypocrisy of a white journalist, who is against gun controls, fearing for her children because of the guns mentioned in rap lyrics.
I think this is a great contemporary. A mix of music, family dynamics, fun dialogue, social media and activism, with a protagonist who is moody and difficult and everything I love to read about. I can't wait to see what Thomas writes next.
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"You'll never silence me and you'll never kill my dream,
Just recognize when you say brilliant that you're also saying Bri."
First of all, HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY and second of all THIS BOOK IS GONNA BE A FILM YOU GUYS. What a birthday present, am I right?
This is the 2019 release I was most scared to read. THUG was such a major, ground-breaking, and emotional book for me that the stakes for Angie’s second books were mile-high. Now I can assure you that there is no need to worry. Angie will not disappoint. This book is just as essential and spectacular.
I don’t think I have ever read a book this black. I can’t think of a single white main or side character just now. And I know this is going to bother people. Just like they are bothered when there is more than one gay character on a show. White people have been the centre of YA (and the majority of other literary genres) for decades. It is time that popular culture makes room for books that represent and celebrate all kinds of cultures as a whole. This will not only help all kinds of teenagers feel represented, but it will also help us understand each other, it will create empathy, respect, and appreciation. I’m not black, I didn’t grow up in a poor part of town where drugs and gangs shaped society, I have never been discriminated against because my heritage or skin colour led others to think less of me. But this book brought me closer to not only understand the struggles of what a life like Bri’s includes, but also how important loyalty, family, friendship, faith, etc. are for a teenager like her.
That’s not all, though. Angie addresses a lot of topics that deal with respecting other people’s backgrounds and stories. She does not pretend to know what is going on in a gay teenagers head but she still manages to tell his story with dignity and tact. She outright acknowledges that a gay boy’s story is not hers to tell because she has not made the same experiences as a presumably straight woman. I would love to see more of that in the literature community overall, not just in YA.
Let’s talk about Bri while we’re at it. That girl is talented, lemme tell you. I love her family and friends but I often had a hard time connecting with Bri on an emotional level. She likes to jump to conclusions and often acts without thinking about the consequences. Even when people tell her to watch out and lay low because whatever she might say or do will put her in a difficult position, she still doesn’t stop to think. She keeps making that mistake over and over again and I quickly ran out of patience. Then again, she was hilarious and smart and often made me laugh out loud.
The writing was great as always. Reading Angie’s books makes you feel things. The lyrics to Bri’s songs gave me goosebumps every single time. The dialogues between the characters were ultimately funny. So. Much. Shade.
There are also a few Easter eggs in there. I am sure that I missed some of them and all I am going to say is that I love seeing authors referencing other authors and their books. Or to see them being inspired by other author’s stories.
The reason I’m “only” giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because of, as I have mentioned before, the lack of a deeper emotional connection. I seriously wept while reading THUG. That book destroyed me. On the Come Up did not have that effect on me. But as I said, do not let this keep you from reading the book. It is just as compelling as Angie’s debut.
I wonder whether we will get to see On the Come Up on the big screen. I would love to actually hear Bri perform her songs. They might become actual chart-toppers, who knows.
Thank you to Walker Books for providing me with an advance copy in return for an honest review.
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While I didn't enjoy the plot of this one quite as much as I enjoyed the plot of the Hate U Give, this book was still soOoOoOoOo GOOD. Angie Thomas' writing perfectly fits the YA genre and we are truly blessed to be living in the same lifetime as her. SO DAMN GOOD.
TW: racism, drug dealing, gun violence
This was everything. I loved it completely. RTC! <3
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Buddy Read with Krystal! ❤
Going to keep this review short because everyone and their rap-loving aunt is going to read and review this book. And, cutting right to the chase, because everyone wants to know how On the Come Up measures up to The Hate U Give, so let me be straight: They're different books.
THUG is about a girl, a victim, being shuffled along by something much bigger than her - a socio-political movement hundreds of years in the making. Starr Carter is a quiet girl, a good girl, who tries to keep to herself and waits until pretty late in the game to find her voice.
That's not Bri. She's anything but quiet. This is her story. Action is driven, not by exterior forces, but by the choices she makes. On the Come Up is an intimate, interpersonal, tight narrative focused on one girl and the consequences of her actions in pursuit of her dream. Bri is flawed, driven, relatable. Her story is inner-city life, hip-hop, self-discovery and self-image rolled into one.
THUG is about external conflict. OTCU is about internal conflict. They're different books, but they're both written by a gifted author who boldly explores themes of systemic racism, racial inequality, social injustice, and gang violence and who excels at crafting authentic voice and believable characters.
Milez glares at me as he raps. Something about how much money he has, how many girls like him, his clothes, his jewelry, the ganster life he's living. Repetitive. Stale. Prewritten.
I gotta go for the kill.
Here I am, going at him as if I don't have any manners. Manners. A lot of words rhyme with that if I deliver them right. Cameras. Rappers. Pamper. Hammer - MC Hammer. Vanilla Ice. Hip-hop heads consider them pop stars, not real rappers. I can compare him to them.
I gotta get my signature line in there - you can only spell "brilliant" with Bri. Aunt Pooh once pointed that out right before teasing me about being such a perfectionist. [. . .]
Milez lowers the mic. There are a couple of cheers. Supreme claps, yet his face is hard.
"Okay, I see you, Milez!" Hype says. "Bri, you better bring the heat!"
The instrumental starts up again. Aunt Pooh said I only get one chance to let everybody and their momma know who I am.
So I take it.