Book Review: On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Book: On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Published February 2019 by Balzer + Bray|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

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 was nervous going into On The Come Up.  I loved The Hate U Give, and I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time.  On The Come Up was great, and I loved it just as much as The Hate U Give.

This is a very different book than THUG.  Bri, I think, is a character who is not always the easiest to like or root for, but Bri is a really interesting character.  She’s angry and resentful and impulsive but she wants a better life for her and her family.  She lost her dad, her family is struggling to make ends meet, and has to deal with a lot of sexism in the hip-hop industry.

Bri’s trying to figure out who she is, and I love her for that.  She has a great group of people who love her and support her, from her grandparents, to her aunt to her friends to her mom and brother.  The relationships really stood out to me, particularly the one with her mom.  Her mom was amazing, and she just wanted Bri and her brother to do better than she did.  She was supportive and encouraging and wanted them to do well in school.  Her mom had a lot to deal with, from people not wanting to give her a chance because of a prior history of using drugs to going to school to give her kids a better life than the one she had.

I loved seeing Bri’s raps throughout the book.  I’m normally not a fan of lyrics (particularly original lyrics) in books, but it was a way for Bri to express herself, and I really liked it.  I’d actually love to see this book as a movie just to see the rap battles and to see Bri perform.  I really felt for her when someone thought that she didn’t write her own lyrics, and performing her own music was really important to her.  She really stuck to that, and I hated that no one took her seriously when she didn’t want to do someone’s else’s lyrics.  Actually, now I’m curious to see if there’s an audio book, just so I can listen to the lyrics.

On The Come Up does mention the events of THUG, so while we don’t see Starr, or get any follow up on what happened after, it is mentioned.  It makes sense, since this book is set in the same neighborhood.  Now I just want to re-read THUG to stay in this world a little bit longer.

5 stars.  I LOVED this book, and it’s a great follow-up to The Hate U Give.  I loved everything about this book, and I feel like I can’t properly do this book justice.  It’ a great book, and I definitely recommend it!

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