Saturday, November 2, 2019

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Rating: ★★★★★| 447 pages | Contemporary | Balzer & Bray | Release Date: 2/5/2019
I don’t know what this says about me but when a book or author has a lot of hype I tend not to read it until it quiets down. Angie Thomas was an author like that. I’d been following her ever since she announced her deal on Twitter and I’m happy to see the success she’s gained. I’ve still yet to read The Hate U Give because I’m not in a place to read Black trauma stories but when I was taking a bus trip I saw this on Overdrive and picked it up.

Now, this book exists in the same place as The Hate U Give and does spoil some of the outcomes of that book so be warned if you haven’t read it.

In On The Come Up 16-year-old Brianna “Bri” Jackson is an aspiring rapper from the hood who lives in the shadow of her deceased father’s rap fame. She’s ready to have her come up but injustice, poverty, and complicated family dynamics stand in her way.

I was instantly taken with Bri’s journey as she tries to figure out how to use her rap talents to get attention and then what to do with that attention. I read this on my Kindle and I was shocked to find this was 447 pages, because I read it so quickly. Bri is an outspoken, impulsive hotheaded heroine who knows how to stand up for herself. I feel like when I was a teen there were lots of books about Black kids in lower-income neighborhoods but they rarely featured female characters who got as much depth or agency. Bri has a holistic life that includes her friends and family who are far from perfect but always supportive.

I can see why Thomas’ writing has captured so many teen readers. She is writing not only for teen readers but for teen readers right now. Her characters talk like teenagers and their conversations are filled with pop culture and meme references that may not make sense even 5 years from now but are very reflective of teens today.

My reading has gotten pretty varied over the years but once a year I will read a contemporary YA book that reminds me why it’s my favorite genre. On The Come Up is an incisive contemporary take on teen issues and a love letter to the power of rap music.

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