Review: On the Come Up

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

This month’s pick from Book of the Month — finished the same month it arrived, even! This is Angie Thomas’ much-anticipated followup to the sensational The Hate You Give, same universe but different, unrelated story. Thomas does an amazing job immersing the reader in the world and its characters and illustrating how society is designed to keep some people from succeeding. Systematic racism, poverty, violence, drugs, all work against families who like everyone just want the best for their children.
Like THUG, the main character is a teenage girl, Bri, who is trying to survive and thrive in a neighborhood rife with gangs and drugs and despair. She’s also balancing high-school life at a fancy arts school across town where she and her friends are bussed to increase diversity (and therefore grant money.) Her dream is to be a rapper and make it big to help her family escape the neighborhood that killed her father in a gang-related murder and hooked her mom on drugs.
Her mom Jay is clean and doing her best to provide for Bri with help from her older brother Trey. After Bri is physically detained and thrown to the ground by school security guards, she turns her anger into a song that goes viral in her community. What follows is a series of pretty poor choices on her part in effort to make it big, but she alienates her friends, lies to her family and incites a gang war.
I really enjoyed this book and it’s definitely a world very different from the one I live in. Bri’s
Mom and Brother are the outstanding characters in this book, they both do everything they can to give Bri the best life they can. (Even when she manages to do everything she can to sabotage their hard work.) The family has been through it all and still hold the heads high. All the characters are complex and human trying to make their way in a complex world. 4/5 stars ⭐️

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