On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Review by Lauren
Source: library copy; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: 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.
Review: I’ve heard a lot of people say that they prefer The Hate U Give, Thomas’ debut, over On the Come Up. However, despite owning The Hate U Give since it came out, I still haven’t read it, so On the Come Up is actually my first foray into Thomas’ work. I definitely liked On the Come Up and I thought it had an awesome premise. It was really cool to see the rap world through Bri’s eyes, and she had some amazing lyrics, that we got to read in the book.
I will say, though, that Bri could definitely be annoying. There were many times I wanted to yell at her to talk to an adult – that wasn’t her aunt, who isn’t the best influence – and to realize she doesn’t have to save her whole family by herself. I got that she felt she had to make rapping work so that her mom and brother wouldn’t struggle so much to pay the bills, and keep a roof over their heads. I can’t imagine having that fear at sixteen and knowing that if you could become famous, your money problems would go away. Despite this, there are a lot of dangerous people – in different ways – that surround Bri and her community, and she doesn’t always make the smartest decisions.
Some of the characters that I really loved were Bri’s brother and her two best friends, Sonny and Malik. I thought they were nicely developed and it was great to see how they always just wanted the best for Bri, even if she’s not listening to them or taking their feelings into consideration. Honestly, I would love a companion novel that focuses on Sonny and his boyfriend – who I won’t reveal, as it’s a secret for much of the book!
I definitely need to read The Hate U Give now!