Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Books I've Read: On The Come Up

Like most people, I read The Hate U Give and loved it.  So I was excited to read Angie Thomas's follow-up.  And while I did enjoy this book, I didn't find it nearly as engrossing or important as THUG.

Bri lives in the same neighborhood as Starr did in THUG, but her world is very different.  Her mother is an ex-addict who lost her kids for a time and Bri constantly expects her to disappoint her and her brother again.  Money is tight, and when Jay loses her job as a church secretary, things get even tighter.

Bri's dream is to be a rapper like her father who lost his life to gun violence just as he was starting to make it.  She knows she's good, and win she wins a battle at a local contest, she thinks she's got it made.  Her aunt, acting as her manager, takes her to a local recording studio and she records a song about something that happened to her at school and how people constantly target her and make assumptions about her because of how she looks.

The song goes viral and becomes the soundtrack to a revolution at school.  But it also raises difficult questions for Bri and her family, and forces Bri to think long and hard not just about being a rapper, but about what she raps about and how she presents herself to the world.

This is the second book I've read recently that features a riot or protest brought on by the treatment of students by security guards in schools.  It's clearly as issue in American schools, and one people are thinking about.  I can't even imagine it, coming from a place where there is no security checking to get in or out of a school.  But I digress...

Bri is a difficult heroine to like.  She's angry and brassy and says exactly what she wants, regardless of how it might affect others.  I thought she treated her friends really badly at times, and her aunt even worse.  And she seemed almost oblivious to how much her actions hurt those around her.

But the underlying message in this book is important, and maybe it takes someone like Bri to show how quickly assumptions about who a person is can be made.  So while I didn't love this like I loved THUG, I think this is an important story and one that needs to be told.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

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.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a good follow up. I think I like this premise even more than I did The Hate U Give.