When I read The Hate U Give, I remember thinking to myself that Angie Thomas was the new voice in Young Adult literature; and we were going to be forever blessed by her words. After reading On The Come Up, I stand by my thoughts, and feel blessed as a reader. This time the story is a little bit different but, the intensity was just as strong.
On The Come Up follows Bri Jackson, a Black teenager who has big dreams of being a rapper like her deceased father. She lives in the neighborhood of Garden Heights with her mother and brother. She is trying to do her best to navigate her life as a teenage girl but, feels like she pushing against a broken system that is working against her every move.
Bri is such an exciting character. She feels like a real teenager. She’s filled with angst and impulsive. She’s been put through the ringer of society and is angry about it. I felt her pain and her anger. I felt her being pushed and pulled in so many different directions. She makes mistakes and bad decisions but, at the time she thinks that they are the proper ones for her to make. On The Come Up really is Bri’s journey and along the way, she learns that she and she alone is the one in control of her story.
I’ll be honest with you. I love music but as far as hip hop I know very little about it. That is not to say that I haven’t listened to it before but, it is not my usual genre of music. That being said…hip hop drives this story. Bri turns to the music to escape what is going on in her world. She also thinks that if she makes it in the music world she will be able to help save her family from all of the things that are going wrong for them. The verses that she creates in her head are SO CLEVER!
The hip hop verses are used provide context for Bri’s world. A world that is filled with broken families, drug addiction, poverty, racism, sexism, and gang violence. Her world is not filled with all negatives though – it is also a world filled with family, friendship, and potential teenage romance. On The Come Up also uses the hip hop verses as a social critque and as encouragment for Bri and the reader to not lose themselves in what others may precieve them as or want them to be. This really is a great young adult contemporary novel; and I look forward to seeing what Angie Thomas blesses with us next.
Rating: 4 Stars