After the disappointment that was Sally Thorne’s 99 Percent Mine, I was really nervous about Angie Thomas’ sophomore offering. Would anything even be able to come close to the wonder that was The Hate U Give?
On the Come Up focuses on Bri, the teenage protagonist who is pursuing her dream of becoming a rap star. She is trying to make a name for herself without trading in on the name of her father who was just making a name for himself in the industry when he died.
She doesn’t need to worry however, because her talent is genuine. But it’s not an easy road – her home life is unravelling due to her mom losing her job and an aunt mixed up in drugs & gangs, as well as being seen as a trouble-making hoodlum at her predominantly white school (in a situation that quickly spirals into a racially-charged public controversy).
Bri needs to weigh out loyalty to her family, the integrity of her craft, and the pressure she feels from industry bigwigs who want to create an image for her that plays into the negative image that the public has created about her.
It’s a wonderful glimpse into the art and creativity of the hip-hop world and the poetry that these artists conjure on the spot.
Much like The Hate U Give, On The Come Up is a heartwarming (and sometimes heartbreaking) coming of age story of family, following your dreams, race, privilege, music, and young love.
Angie Thomas is a marvel, and her books are must reads for everyone.