Book Club Pick: April 2020
Title: On the Come Up
Author: Angie Thomas
Series: Stand alone novel
Country: United States of America
Publisher: Walker Books
First Published: 2019
Pages: 464 pages
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. It’s hard to get your come up, through, when you’re labeled “trouble” at school and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. But Bri’s success is all that stands between her family and homelessness, so she doesn’t just want to make it – she has to.
Even if it means becoming exactly what the public expects her to be.
Sixteen-year-old Brianna ‘Bri’ Jackson attends a public arts school and is an inspiring rapper. Her father Lawless, an underground rapper, was shot dead by a rival gang when she was a child. Bri is raised by her mother Jay, a recovering drug addict who has been clean for eight years. Jay is behind with the rent and struggling to put food on the table.
Bri is also supported by Aunt Pooh, a gang member and drug dealer, and her older brother Trey, the college-educated golden boy of family, who despite his education is unable to find a good job.
There are racial tensions at her school. There is an incident where two security officers throw Bri to the ground assuming she is a drug dealer. Bri puts her frustration and anger about the injustice black students face into a rap song, which goes viral.
Bri wins a rap battle at a local hip-hop venue. Will this be her breakout moment and her chance to score her a recording contract?
On the Come Up, is set in Garden Heights, the same predominantly black and poor neigbourhood as Thomas’ debut novel The Hate U Give. It is not a sequel, but takes places following the events of The Hate U Give.
Thomas herself was rapper as teenage and when I read Bri’s raps I could her voice clearly. I usually dislike when authors write lyrics into novels, but Thomas nails it.
On the Come Up is a compelling coming-of-age story about young black woman finding her voice.
I borrowed this book from my public library.