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On the Come Up by Angie Thomas - Review

Friday, February 22, 2019


Where did I get it? I had it on pre-order so it arrived on publication date or thereabouts. 

What's it about? We're back in the Garden, the same setting as The Hate U Give, with Bri, who is sixteen and wants to be a rapper. Her dad was a rapper, known as Lawless, although he died when Bri was tiny. Bri now lives with her mum Jay and her brother Trey, who has moved back from college to help Jay with the bills. Then Jay loses her job and bills aren't getting paid, meaning Bri is more worried than ever and determined to get her come up to get somewhere.

She raps in the Ring against her dad's old manager's son, Milez. Her manager, her Aunt Pooh, gets her some studio time for her to record her song On The Come Up. It goes viral, but people misunderstand what Bri was trying to say in the lyrics. She's also hiding from her mum what she's doing, because she knows her mum won't approve.

Bri and Trey used to live with their dad's parents due to Jay's drug addiction. Bri still fears her mum falling back into those ways, and has quite a bit of recurring trauma from it. There's bad blood between Jay and her parents in law, and they want Bri and Trey to come to live with them again.

Meanwhile at school, the security guards on the door are known to unfairly target black and other minority students, but no one will listen to the students when they protest. Bri gets targeted and her friend Malik wants to publicise the video so people will believe them, but Bri doesn't want that hassle either. 

Bri's best friends are Sonny and Malik, but she feels like she's falling apart from them. She likes Malik and when he asks her out on what seems like a date she's excited. But there's also Curtis, who lives near her aunt, and who is definitely flirting with Bri. 

This is a book in which a lot happens! It's got twists and turns, it's got sweet romance, it's got hard hitting family stuff, it's got everything. I'm sure people will talk about how powerful it is, and it is, but it's also just really, really good. Angie Thomas has such a way with words; I find she really brings setting and characters to life - even minor characters like Scrap are beautifully drawn. I would honestly read a bunch of novels set in this neighbourhood - Bri mentions "the kid that was killed" in T.H.U.G. a couple of times which is a nice throwback. 

I wanted Bri to succeed so much; I hope the book does too. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes! This is a really excellent subplot, I won't spoil anything but I would read a whole novel of these characters. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Obviously! There's barely a white person mentioned except maybe the school superintendent? I loved that. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Jay is an ex-addict and I think it's important to note that it is discussed in some depth, plus the struggles she has staying clean. Bri has residual trauma from what happened with her mother, which is important to note too. 

Is there any sex stuff? No. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? They're mentioned a number of times, yes 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, in relation to both of Bri's parents. It's not graphic but may be upsetting. 

Are there swear words? Yes. 

What criticisms do I have? None. Not one. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. I loved The Hate U Give and I really want to see the film as I haven't yet, but I would say On The Come Up is better?!?! I cannot WAIT to see what Angie writes next. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I waited too long last time to read The Hate U Give and I was determined not to do that this time so I picked it up straight away. 

What other books is it like? The Hate U Give, obviously. It's definitely just as good and I loved the story. 

How many stars? Ten out of ten! 

Where is the book going now? I'm going to make my partner read it, so it's down his side of the bed!



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