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On the Come Up

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Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons.

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.

464 pages, ebook

First published February 5, 2019

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About the author

Angie Thomas

28 books21.9k followers
Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,034 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
February 13, 2019
Aunt Pooh said I only get one chance to let everybody and their momma know who I am.
So I take it.

How do you follow a book like The Hate U Give?

Reading THUG, I got the impression that I was experiencing something momentous. It was breathtaking. Important. I was witnessing a person using their art to say loud and clear “ENOUGH.” On the Come Up looks at some of the same things, but it is a different kind of book. I think, however, it is a book which shows that Thomas is a great writer, not just someone who can ride the wave of an important issue.

Overall, people will probably like this book less than the author's debut. I've already seen some (understandable) comments about how Bri was a tough character to like compared with Starr. And it's true. Starr is a much easier character to like. She's a clear victim of a screwed-up system; clearly in the right for the whole book. She has very basic easy-to-relate-to relationships with her parents and friends and we are never asked to sympathize with hard-to-like characters. Bri is much more complex.

For me, though, she was a far more interesting character than Starr. Her story may not make quite the same impact - being largely about hip hop rather than police shootings - but she herself felt like such an authentic teen voice. She's angry, resentful, impulsive, and outright rude at times. She gets into fights and doesn't play nice. She has a difficult relationship with pretty much everyone in the book. She pushes her family and supporters away, but believes she is doing it to get “on the come up” for them. She considers giving up important parts of herself for a shot at fame and fortune.

I can see why some people won't like her, but I actually kinda loved her.

I felt every bit of her pain and anger as she watches her family scrape together to try to pay the bills, watches her aunt buried deep in the world of drug dealing, watches security at her school targeting black and Latinx students for searches, watches male rappers make sexist jokes or erase her name and voice because she is a girl. And I loved how she turns to hip hop to make sense of her feelings, finding rhymes in her everyday life and spinning clever verses in her head.

As someone who finds books about music a bit hit and miss, I have to say this one was a definite hit. I would have welcomed even more rap. You can tell the author used to be a rapper because Bri's songs are genuinely very good. I'd love to hear them recorded. I also love how she addresses sexism and double standards in the hip hop industry, and points out the ludicrous hypocrisy of a white journalist, who is against gun controls, fearing for her children because of the guns mentioned in rap lyrics.

I think this is a great contemporary. A mix of music, family dynamics, fun dialogue, social media and activism, with a protagonist who is moody and difficult and everything I love to read about. I can't wait to see what Thomas writes next.

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Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews156k followers
August 7, 2022
Oh, man. This was intense. On the Come Up is the kind of book that drags you down so deep you’re underneath thought, engulfed in a place of pure feeling. The story made me laugh. It made me smile. It made me crushingly sad. It made me feel like something was making space inside me, like the words were sinking into me and expanding in my chest and threatening to spill out.

Angie Thomas rolls up her sleeves and tackles Bri’s story with grace, care, and devastating energy. 16-year-old Brianna “Bri” Jackson channeled all her yearning into one single dream: to reach rap stardom. Bri wants to follow on her father's steps, a legendary underground rapper who was shot dead by a rival gang, but she also knows that a career in rap can turn the tide of her family’s life, consisting of a widowed mother, a drug addict eight years clean, eking out a living on a church secretary salary, and an older brother drudging in a minimum-wage job after years of toil for his college degree. Following an incident where Bri is violently targeted by a security guard, Bri writes a song that promptly goes viral, changing her life forever. But not necessarily for the best. Everyone clamors to wring meaning from Bri's lyrics and assign it their own: people start branding Bri a dangerous, angry Black girl, and her father’s sleazy old manager starts insisting Bri caters to that false image in order to make more money. “You know what white kids in the suburbs love? Listening to shit that scares their parents,” he tells her. “You scare the hell outta their folks, they’ll flock to you like birds.”

What follows is a story that succeeds in being both a thoroughly moving journey through teenagedom, packed with firecracker dialogue and beautifully realized characters, and an honest and clear-eyed examination of racism, prejudice, and double standards. I loved Bri's character, her passion and determination and vulnerability, and rooted for her so hard. I also loved Bri’s interactions with her family and her friendship with Sonny and Malik and the current of love and hurt that flows between them. But what sang to me the most, and what I will remember most acutely about this novel, is the message wedged deeply inside the story's heart: Your voice matters. On the Come Up is a novel that implores its readers not to bend in order to fit the world’s mold, not to omit pieces of themselves to ensure someone else’s comfort or to cater to someone else’s measure. Be wonderfully passionate about what’s right, the novel asks instead, no matter how much hatred and animosity throw your way, and always strive to make a stand and make it count for something.

“So, who are you?”
“Who are you?” she repeats. “Of the millions and billions of people in the world, you’re the only person who can answer that. Not people online or at your school. I can’t even answer that. I can say who I think you are.” She cups my cheek. “And I think you’re brilliant, talented, courageous, beautiful. You’re my miracle. But you’re the only one who can say who you are with authority. So, who are you?”

In short, I loved this novel, and as long as Angie Thomas continues to work her wonderful literary magic, she’ll always have a reader in me.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
February 4, 2019
"You'll never silence me and you'll never kill my dream,
Just recognize when you say brilliant that you're also saying Bri."

First of all, HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY and second of all THIS BOOK IS GONNA BE A FILM YOU GUYS. What a birthday present, am I right?

Spoiler free!

This is the 2019 release I was most scared to read. THUG was such a major, ground-breaking, and emotional book for me that the stakes for Angie’s second books were mile-high. Now I can assure you that there is no need to worry. Angie will not disappoint. This book is just as essential and spectacular.

I don’t think I have ever read a book this black. I can’t think of a single white main or side character just now. And I know this is going to bother people. Just like they are bothered when there is more than one gay character on a show. White people have been the centre of YA (and the majority of other literary genres) for decades. It is time that popular culture makes room for books that represent and celebrate all kinds of cultures as a whole. This will not only help all kinds of teenagers feel represented, but it will also help us understand each other, it will create empathy, respect, and appreciation. I’m not black, I didn’t grow up in a poor part of town where drugs and gangs shaped society, I have never been discriminated against because my heritage or skin colour led others to think less of me. But this book brought me closer to not only understand the struggles of what a life like Bri’s includes, but also how important loyalty, family, friendship, faith, etc. are for a teenager like her.

That’s not all, though. Angie addresses a lot of topics that deal with respecting other people’s backgrounds and stories. She does not pretend to know what is going on in a gay teenagers head but she still manages to tell his story with dignity and tact. She outright acknowledges that a gay boy’s story is not hers to tell because she has not made the same experiences as a presumably straight woman. I would love to see more of that in the literature community overall, not just in YA.

Let’s talk about Bri while we’re at it. That girl is talented, lemme tell you. I love her family and friends but I often had a hard time connecting with Bri on an emotional level. She likes to jump to conclusions and often acts without thinking about the consequences. Even when people tell her to watch out and lay low because whatever she might say or do will put her in a difficult position, she still doesn’t stop to think. She keeps making that mistake over and over again and I quickly ran out of patience. Then again, she was hilarious and smart and often made me laugh out loud.

The writing was great as always. Reading Angie’s books makes you feel things. The lyrics to Bri’s songs gave me goosebumps every single time. The dialogues between the characters were ultimately funny. So. Much. Shade.
There are also a few Easter eggs in there. I am sure that I missed some of them and all I am going to say is that I love seeing authors referencing other authors and their books. Or to see them being inspired by other author’s stories.

The reason I’m “only” giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because of, as I have mentioned before, the lack of a deeper emotional connection. I seriously wept while reading THUG. That book destroyed me. On the Come Up did not have that effect on me. But as I said, do not let this keep you from reading the book. It is just as compelling as Angie’s debut.
I wonder whether we will get to see On the Come Up on the big screen. I would love to actually hear Bri perform her songs. They might become actual chart-toppers, who knows.

Thank you to Walker Books for providing me with an advance copy in return for an honest review.

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Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,607 reviews10.7k followers
January 9, 2023

I am so in love with your words.

This story follows, Bri Jackson, who, like Starr from The Hate U Give, lives in the neighborhood of Garden Heights.

That is pretty much where the similarities between them end.

Bri lives with her mother and her older brother. Her father, a once successful rapper, was gunned down in the streets, a victim of gang violence.

Bri's mother, a recovering addict, with over 5-years sobriety, is doing her best to provide for her children alone, but it's tough.

Bri has plans to follow in her father's footsteps and she wants to do it her own way. No matter how hard she strives, however, she struggles to find her identity apart from him.

She is super talented and spends most of her time thinking up rhymes and putting together lyrics.

She is singularly focused on finding success in order to better the living conditions of herself and her family. To make them, in her words, good.

Bri is a great kid, although she has a short fuse. She puts a lot of pressure on herself and I enjoyed getting some insight into her thought process and how she sees the world around her.

There is always something that seems to be going wrong in her world. It's tough.

There's troubles at school, with bills, being behind with their rent and Bri feels compelled to do something to change their situation.

I loved this story. The incorporation of Bri's lyrics gave the story such depth.

I loved that angle, seeing her try to make it and channel her talents for good. Learning to stand her ground and be true to herself.

I love stories with music, or musicians, as well and this one utilized that trope beautifully.

I have read some reviews where readers commented on not enjoying this story as much as THUG.

That doesn't surprise me, but for me, I sort of feel the opposite. I think I actually enjoyed this one more. While Bri, as a character, may seem contentious, to me, she was perfect.

As a 16-year old, many aspects of your life can be extremely frustrating. You can feel like you aren't being heard, like your desires are pushed aside or seen as not important, and that may cause you to act out in socially unacceptable ways.

I get that. Bri was struggling with some heavy shit and she let it get the best of her sometimes, but that happens when you are a kid; honestly, even when you're an adult sometimes.

Additionally, I liked how this book focused on a variety of hard-hitting issues that can often be brushed over or ignored.

The reality of living in poverty is something that millions of Americans, and people around the world, deal with on a daily basis. While the reality of that isn't pretty, it is important to shine light on the topic and discuss it.

Examples: the fact that Bri's mom was a recovering addict; the limits that places on her options to provide for her family.

The way Bri, and other black and brown kids, were treated at her school. The lifestyle Bri's aunt lives and how that affects her entire family. Bri's brother's options for a job after college.

All of these are difficult issues. I appreciated how much substance Thomas put into this. This was far from a one issue story.

This was the whole cake and I was eating every bite!

I can see why this format may not sit well with everyone. It punches the whole way through, but it is an exceptionally told story.

Thomas is a true wordsmith. Her writing leaps off the page with realness...is that a word? Realness?

You know what I'm saying.

As you can tell, I loved this. I want everyone to read it and seriously, I am on the EDGE of my seat until Angie Thomas puts out another book.

I am really hoping for another story set in Garden Heights!!!
Profile Image for Warda.
1,207 reviews19.7k followers
September 15, 2020

This book was pretty fuckin phenomenal. I wasn't sure how THUG could be topped, but Angie Thomas did that!
I fell in love with this story, with Brianna, her friends and family and her love for music. All those aspects were pretty much nailed and I couldn't get enough once I started reading.
I'm really liking how Angie Thomas incorporates themes regarding social justice in her stories in order for us to get to know how some black communities are living and opening our eyes to it all. It's raw and real and spoken about so well and I want more.
So much more!
I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. Auto-buy author for sure!

Also this is going to become a movie?! Lord, it's gonna be good!


It's haaappening! Buddy-reading with my babygirl Türkan!

I cannot WAIT for this. Cover love. Blurb obsessed!! Angie Thomas is so deserving of the success she's been getting for THUG!

Gimme! 😍
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
February 12, 2019
While I didn't enjoy the plot of this one quite as much as I enjoyed the plot of the Hate U Give, this book was still soOoOoOoOo GOOD. Angie Thomas' writing perfectly fits the YA genre and we are truly blessed to be living in the same lifetime as her. SO DAMN GOOD.

TW: racism, drug dealing, gun violence
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
701 reviews3,352 followers
February 28, 2019
Going to keep this review short because everyone and their rap-loving aunt is going to read and review this book. And, cutting right to the chase, because everyone wants to know how On the Come Up measures up to The Hate U Give, so let me be straight: They're different books.

THUG is about a girl, a victim, being shuffled along by something much bigger than her - a socio-political movement hundreds of years in the making. Starr Carter is a quiet girl, a good girl, who tries to keep to herself and waits until pretty late in the game to find her voice.

That's not Bri. She's anything but quiet. This is her story. Action is driven, not by exterior forces, but by the choices she makes. On the Come Up is an intimate, interpersonal, tight narrative focused on one girl and the consequences of her actions in pursuit of her dream. Bri is flawed, driven, relatable. Her story is inner-city life, hip-hop, self-discovery and self-image rolled into one.

THUG is about external conflict. OTCU is about internal conflict. They're different books, but they're both written by a gifted author who boldly explores themes of systemic racism, racial inequality, social injustice, and gang violence and who excels at crafting authentic voice and believable characters.
Milez glares at me as he raps. Something about how much money he has, how many girls like him, his clothes, his jewelry, the ganster life he's living. Repetitive. Stale. Prewritten.

I gotta go for the kill.

Here I am, going at him as if I don't have any manners. Manners. A lot of words rhyme with that if I deliver them right. Cameras. Rappers. Pamper. Hammer - MC Hammer. Vanilla Ice. Hip-hop heads consider them pop stars, not real rappers. I can compare him to them.

I gotta get my signature line in there - you can only spell "brilliant" with Bri. Aunt Pooh once pointed that out right before teasing me about being such a perfectionist. [. . .]

Milez lowers the mic. There are a couple of cheers. Supreme claps, yet his face is hard.

"Okay, I see you, Milez!" Hype says. "Bri, you better bring the heat!"

The instrumental starts up again. Aunt Pooh said I only get one chance to let everybody and their momma know who I am.

So I take it.
June 15, 2022

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So apparently giving supporting details about your arguments = spoilers. I thought I was pretty vague, apart from mentioning a few potentially triggering situations, but just in case: I talk about the book in this review of the book(!), please consider yourself warned.

I've been looking forward to ON THE COME UP ever since I heard that Angie Thomas was writing a new book. THE HATE U GIVE was one of those life-changing books for me, in that it was a pitch-perfect book that came out at a time when the subject material was relevant and necessary, and delivered an emotionally-charged story about institutionalized racism, as well as the importance of movements like Black Lives Matter that shine a much-needed spotlight on racial injustice.

ON THE COME UP is a similar story in that it also features a girl in Garden Heights who comes from a low-income family and deals with gang violence and gang activity on a day-to-day basis. Bri's mother is a recovering drug addict and her aunt is in the local gang, the Garden Disciples. Her father was a famous up-and-coming rapper who was murdered. People make assumptions about her just because of the color of her skin and where she comes from, and a racially-targeted bag search that ends in violence inspires Bri to write a rap song that ends up going viral.

I really wanted to like this book, but it didn't have the same strength in writing that THE HATE U GIVE had. Starr was a compelling protagonist and it was a really emotional read. ON THE COME UP was emotionally distant, by comparison, and Bri was such an awful heroine. She made one terrible choice after another and treated her friends and family like garbage. I hated the way she talked to her mother, and how she called her mother by her first name with such a lack of respect. I hated the way she treated her friend, and how she made a move on her taken friend who was in a relationship. She also wrote a song with very vivid references to gang activity, which is fine, but then she tried to deny that that wasn't what the song was about when she was called on it. Um, what?

Here's the thing, ON THE COME UP was trying to tackle some weighty issues just like THE HATE U GIVE did. This book was about the hypocrisy of white people when it comes to guns (OK when white people have them, thuggish and scary when black people have them), cultural appropriation (white people listening to and consuming rap but not wanting to think about the deeper issues and sociocultural suffering and struggles endemic to the black community due to oppression and injustice), and, of course, institutionalized racism leading to the disenfranchisement, abuse, and even murders of black people over infractions that white people would get minor consequences for.

The issue with Bri and her school was not resolved in a satisfactory way. They gave her mother a job, sure, but that felt more like they were trying to buy the family's silence and not a moral turnaround. Bri didn't really advance as a character. She ran around doing and saying whatever she wanted and didn't want to take ownership for her actions or the consequences of her actions. At the end of the book, she's basically rewarded for acting like a total shit because of her raps, and the other problematic aspects of her behavior - getting involved in gang wars, siccing her aunt on a rival gang member despite knowing it could end up in murder, failing in school and treating her tests like they're unimportant, ghosting her friends and/or snapping in their faces, and bitching at her mom - are all basically ignored, because oh, she belatedly became part of a movement and then capitalized on it for financial gain and fame, isn't she a good person? Lmao, her friends basically did all the work getting that movement started, and in the beginning she treated them like trash for it. What in the ever-loving heck? Am I supposed to root for this girl? I mean, I get the fear of wanting to get involved against the same authority figures that oppress you and mistreat you, but letting her friends take the fall for her and then jumping on their shit was totally disgusting and I hated her for it. The writing in this book was a real step-down from THE HATE U GIVE, and seemed unpolished and clunky in comparison. Starr was such a great character, and I loved her so much. Bri was a brat, and the best moment in this book was when her mother gives her a real dressing down over her behavior. #TeamJay

Honestly, Jay(da) was the star of this book. I loved Bri's mom. She had so much to deal with, and some of her quotes in this book about racism and police brutality and inequality really reminded me of Starr. I almost wish that this was an adult book about parenting and that Jay(da) had been the heroine, because I was much more interested in hearing about her story than Bri's. Yes, the raps were great and had good flow, and I enjoyed them, but I hated that Bri wrote them because I hated Bri. Jay had to deal with lingering biases over her drug use (including her own daughter), despite being eight years sober. She's in college trying to better her education so she can get a good job, while taking care of two kids and dealing with her deceased husband's younger sister, who's a leader in a gang. The most emotional parts in this book all involved her, especially when she goes to Bri's school to speak up about the racist treatment of her ungrateful shit of a daughter. That packed a punch.

Huge disappointment. I was wondering why more of my friends hadn't reviewed this book already and I'm guessing maybe they either didn't like it and didn't want to say so, or they were leery about reading the follow-up book from a successful debut author without reading advance reviews. Well, I didn't like this book and I'm flummoxed at the people saying that this was better than THUG. It really wasn't. If anything, this reads like a debut novel, because of how unsteady it is on its own two legs.

I'm so bummed that I can't say great things about ON THE COME UP. :/

2 stars
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,380 followers
February 12, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“There’s only so much you can take being described as somebody you’re not.”

🌟 If Angie Thomas taught me something is that I should use my voice if I have one and I am going to do exactly that. If you think you will be offended by this review or by this not being my favorite book of the year then don’t continue this review!

🌟 A thing I have noticed lately is that it is always a bit harder to view diverse books. For me personally I am going to be fair to a book regardless of who wrote it and just because a book is diverse does not make it good.

🌟 I loved THUG and I got both an E-book and a hardcover of that book, so you bet I was excited for this. Unfortunately it did not live to the hype for me! I know writing a second book can be harder than the first one specially when it gets the recognition that Angie’s debut got (A 100 weeks as a NYT Bestseller and most as #1, that’s just crazy awesome).

🌟 I felt that the writing in this one was mediocre, I did not have that feeling of wanting to read the book non-stop. I am also starting to get annoyed by the HP references in many YA books. I used to enjoy them but now they are kind of a bookish pet peeve for me in writing. I know many authors were affected by that series but I think of them as a shortcut to being relatable which annoys me.

🌟 I am not the biggest fan of Hip-Hop so I knew I won’t relate as other readers. That being said I expected it to be more enjoyable. I did not know where the story was going. I felt like it is a milder version of THUG ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .

🌟 I also did not have that connection to the characters as I did in THUG. There was no emotions on my part while reading this. I was annoyed by Bri’s actions. I like when YA characters act their ages and are stupid and do things wrong. But Bri’s insisting on being an outlaw was bothersome.

🌟 Summary: I ma have had higher expectation from the book which resulted in my being disappointed. The book was not bad but was no where as good as THUG for me personally. The characters, writing and plot were just too meh for my taste. I can’t believe I am saying this but this is a book that I think will be better as a movie!
Profile Image for Lilith Black Bee.
178 reviews357 followers
February 25, 2019
I get that some people might not see some of my words with good eyes, but these are the things that this book made me think about. So please, respect my opinion. It's against no one, but if you have a different opinion than mine, or you totally disagree with my thoughts, feel free to say your opinion. I will respect it, no matter what.

When I found out about this book, I think it was a couple of months ago or something like that. Obviously, I wanted to read this one too after I loved "The Hate U Give". I was wondering what new story Angie will give us this time. I didn't want to know anything about this book, so I just got blind on it, knowing that the chance to not like it was almost inexistent.

The way she puts on the paper problems like racism, drugs, poverty, police brutality against black people, and other things like this, is outstanding. She gets us to understand why black people are doing some things, how they think, why they react in the way they do it to the most atrocities against them. In this masterpiece, she shows us that black people have feelings too, even if they are drug dealers, rap artists or gang members. They are humans with feelings, with dreams, with expectations, just like the rest of us. True, they may have more "balls" than the rest of us, sometimes, but this doesn't mean they have to be put in the corner just because their skin color is not white.

This is a brilliant insight into their lives, their minds, and their hearts. They can cry and love and hope, just like the rest of us. And you know what? We also can be drug dealers, gang members and what other bad things we put them on the corner for, just like them. Sometimes even with more "talent" than them. But you know what we can't really do like them? We can't really stick to our family like them. Because black people, no matter what, they stick and support their families, exactly how Angie shows us in her book. We can say about us, white people, the same thing? Yes, there are white people like this too, a lot of them, but the big majority can easily leave their family behind for various reasons. And about this, we, white people that can so easily judge black ones, and put them in the corner even for the thing that they speak their mind, I think we have some things to learn from them.

The only thing that separates us, is just the skin color. This is all! And Angie Thomas shows this to us in one of the most beautiful and brilliant ways. I am waiting for her next book, the way I am waiting to have my next breath when I am underwater.

Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
679 reviews3,947 followers
July 15, 2019
“You’ll never silence me and you’ll never kill my dream. Just recognize when you say brilliant that you’re also saying Bri.”

OH, this was absolutely 100% amazing and Angie Talent is WAY too talented for me to handle. Obviously, I literally adored
“There's only so much you can take being described as somebody you're not.”

Easily my favourite part of this book was Bri's character. Bri is the kind of character I've been wanting and needing in YA for so long. She feels so genuinely teen and she makes a lot of mistakes that stem from inexperience and her young age but that is what I loved about it. Bri can be brash, harsh, rude, and act without thinking (so many times) but I felt a bit of myself in her recklessness and identified with her teenage angst. I really love that Angie Thomas decided to write a character that really fucks up, and that is really outspoken, it's refreshing. But it's not just her flaws that made me love her - Bri has so many strengths too! she has a heart of gold, is trying to do her best, and loves her friends and family with so much of her heart. She's ambitious and cool, and funny - and damn, I loved the hell outta that girl!

Plot wise, this was a lot more fun than The Hate U Give. It still has a lot of the hallmarks of that book though. It deals with racism and growing up as a black teenager in America. It has strong family dynamics, and friendship focus. The focus on family, especially, was a highlight. Angie Thomas knows how to drill down into the core of a family and examine what makes each one tick, and I love the portrayal of the family in this book.

This book also just had so much love and heart in it - you could tell. You could tell Thomas loves rap music and hip-hop, she loved her main character, and she loved writing this book. I think that passion and care really leaked onto the pages and it made me care. This book is about music and family but you don't need to care about music to be invested - it just seems to grab you and in a minute you realise you're a hundred pages deep and so invested in the story and the characters. I love that in books.

“All these folks I've never met became gods over my life. Now I gotta take the power back.”

Overall, I think this was just as good as THUG - just in a different way. It's kind of sad to me people seem to have slept on this book a bit because it's great and has so many themes people can connect with. It's a YA book that isn't afraid to shove a loud and bossy main character into the forefront - and to celebrate them for those traits. It's a book that blends rap and friends and family, that has the hallmark YA tropes like first love and family issues, while also exploring race issues in America in a genuine way that only an #ownvoices author can.

I also loved the audiobook for this a lot - the narrator sings the raps and its PERFECT.
Profile Image for emma.
1,866 reviews54.3k followers
March 8, 2021

I've just realized...I don't really have anything to say about this book.

I did enjoy the representation. I find Angie Thomas's writing style very readable. I flew through this pretty quick considering how long it is.

But the characters, the story, the topic, the romance (oh god, the unnecessary, accursed, inexplicably love triangle-y romance)...they have all flown from me. Gone from my brain, presumably never to return.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

Bottom line: Not bad but oh no clearly not memorable to me sorry oh boy.


this was one of the most stressful books i've ever read.

but, like...not in a bad way?

review to come / 3ish stars

currently-reading updates

obsessed with hopping on bandwagons 2 years late
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
828 reviews4,705 followers
September 3, 2019
Angie Thomas has such a way of incorporating social justice (and injustice) into her stories that is both moving and eye opening. This book focused on so many things - racism, drugs, poverty, family issues, being true to yourself and more & it dealt with each one undeniably well.

I was worried going into this book that it wouldn't live up to The Hate You Give for me. While THUG is still my favorite, Bri and her family and friends definitely captured me. I was fully invested in the characters and their story. Thomas' ability to fully capture the community and people around her main characters is one of the things I love most about her books.

One recommendation I would make if this one is on your TBR - consider the audiobook! There are lots of infused rap lyrics and I highly doubt I did all the rap battles justice. It would have been awesome to hear them aloud. I have no doubt it would make for an even more amazing reading experience.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,912 reviews33k followers
February 12, 2019
3.5 stars!

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Angie Thomas' debut novel 'The Hate You Give' blew me away. I hate to compare it to this, because they are totally different stories, but I couldn't help myself. For me, this was good, but not near as good as THUG. Angie Thomas is an amazing writer and there was lots I loved about this book, but there were also things that missed the mark a bit.

Bri is a teenager and an aspiring rapper. She wants to make it big not only because she is talented and wants to be famous etc, but because she wants to help support her family. Times are hard, and now that her mom lost her job they're even harder. Bri feels a lot of pressure. Most of it she puts on herself, but her life is far from easy. I could sympathize with Bri. Growing up in poverty is not easy and I understood why she made a lot of the choices she made.

While on the come up, Bri has a lot of hard choices to make. There are people that want to take advantage, to use her to get ahead themselves. She finds out really fast who she can trust and that people will see you the way you portray. This was a tough lesson for her to learn.
“There's only so much you can take being described as somebody you're not.”

There were so many great moments in this book and characters I loved. Bri's mom was probably my favorite. Jay had been through so much and overcame so much. She was genuine and only wanted what was best for her kids. I also loved Bri's brother and friends. This is one of those books, like THUG, I could see on the big screen.

Overall, I did enjoy this one. There was no huge thing that was wrong with it, it just didn't hit me like THUG did. It was still a worthy read and I'm glad I read it. It had emotion, humor, and a good message. Also, the audio book was excellent. Bahni Turpin (the narrator) killed it. If you're going to read it, I would highly recommend listening!
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
546 reviews34.7k followers
May 25, 2021
”You’re gonna face a whole lot of Longs and Tates in your life, baby. More than I’d like. But you never let their actions determine what you do. The moment you do, you’ve given them the power. You hear me?”

So I thought long and hard about what to write about “On the Come Up” and to be completely honest I’m none the wiser. I mean I liked the book and read it pretty fast, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have issues with it. I know, I know. A lot of people will be like: “WHAT?” now and I don’t blame you guys for it. I can only give you my honest opinion though and so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Let’s hope I’ll be eloquent enough to put this into words.

”This Glock, yeah, I cock it, and aim it,” I write. Wait, no, something should come before that. Aim it. Ain’t it. Frame it... Claim it.”

This said, first things first. There were a lot of things I enjoyed and one of them was Bri’s thought process and how it was portrayed. I definitely found myself in this because for someone who started to write poetry as a young teen this was very relatable. The way she came up with lines and words and then rearranged them in order to give them an impact and meaning was pretty amazing and for me it was obvious that Angie Thomas is a great lyricist as well. You can’t come up (see what I did there ;-P) with lines like these if you don’t have a feeling for the rhythm and flow of poetry.

”Jay really did leave me and Trey at our grandparent’s house. She couldn’t take care of us and her drug habit, too. That’s when I learned that when people die, they sometimes take the living with them.”

Another thing I enjoyed were the little bits of wisdom you could find throughout the entire book and of course the representation of the characters. Just like in “The Hate U Give” there were a lot of different topics that were explored. This time around the theme of police violence was only broached lightly and the focus was more on drug dealing/abuse, the perception of people, their prejudices and how they react to the characters. No matter if it was the incident with Tate and Long that bullied and picked on black kids in Bri’s school or how the Crowns reacted to Bri’s rap lines, all those moments showed that there’s still a lot of work to do.

”I bite the inside of my cheek. I could take these, but the moment I walk out of here with them, I’m fucked. We’re fucked. It means we’ve gotten to the point that we need shoes that someone decided to give away.
I don’t wanna be that person. Yet I think I am that person.”

Also the representation of being poor was very well done, too. The initial bitterness and shame people feel when they are forced to ask for help, yet they know that they have no other choice than to seek aid. If you ask me, it’s the first step in the right direction though. I’ve been working at an NGO for years now and I know this first step is always the hardest to take. To ask for help is tough, because it means you have to acknowledge the fact that you can’t solve your troubles on your own and it takes a lot of courage to admit this to yourself. I really loved Jay’s character because she did everything she could in order to give her kids what they needed. There is no shame in being poor and about 98% of the human population aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

”So, Ms. Reporter,” I say, “and anybody else who wanna call ‘On the Come Up’ this, that, or whatever the hell else. Do it. Hell, get the song taken down if you want. But you’ll never silence me. I got too goddamn much to say.”

So this all said let’s come to the part of the book I didn’t like and that left some sort of bitter taste in my mouth. The first thing I’ve to mention is that I couldn’t really relate to Bri and her actions. I found myself agreeing with her mother and her brother and even though I know that she was angry and hurt by their situation I still think that the way she reacted only made everything even worse. Of course we can say, she’s just a teen, impulsive and doesn’t know better but quite honestly, to go at the reporter like that, to attack that guy in the studio, if she would have just thought about it for a second she would have known that all those actions would only be for her detriment. Plus even her friends, who are the same age as her, told her that it’s not okay, yet she still insisted that her way was the only way. Bri was stubborn, juvenile and completely incapable to reflect on what she did. If everyone in your family and every single one of your close friends tells you, you’re doing something wrong, well, then you might actually DO something wrong! And what truly bothered me, is that there was no character arc that would have shown she realized her mistakes.

”Promise you gon’ get outta the Garden.”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“Promise that you gon’ do whatever you gotta do to make it. Promise like it’s the last thing you’ll ever promise me.”

Quite the contrary, the entire book she fights with her friends because they try to start a movement by using the official channels and work on changing things in a sensible manner, at times she’s downright rude to her mother and to be entirely honest here, she hung out with her aunt Pooh who is a drug dealer (I know she loved her aunt but she was still a drug dealer who obviously did real shady stuff on a regular basis) and even worse she told her aunt about the gang members, knowing exactly how she would react. What did she expect? That aunt Pooh would go to them and ask them nicely? Gangs don’t do things the nice way; it always ends in blood. No one can tell me that Bri wasn’t aware of the consequences this would entail and yet she still did it. I know a lot of people will disagree on this with me but it felt that way while I read the book and this is my opinion. You don’t have to like it or to agree with it, I just want you to respect it. ;-)

”If I’m nothing else, I’m them, and they’re me.
That’s more than enough.”

All told this was a solid and good book! It tackled a lot of important topics and Angie Thomas did an excellent job at exploring them. She portrayed poverty, injustice and prejudices and conveyed the message that you should always make use of the power of your voice. Unfortunately for me Bri’s voice wasn’t as relatable and strong as Starr’s and I had quite some trouble to understand her actions. There happened so many things in here yet oddly enough I found myself not as emotionally engaged as I was when I read THUG. I guess we could always say it’s not the book it’s me and maybe that’s right, but maybe it’s not. 3,5 stars and a lot of mixed feelings on top.


So apparently to make a video about the books I want to read actually helps me to read them. *lol*
I recently spoke about My Last Library Book Haul on my BookTube and “On the Come Up” was among the five books I borrowed.

I’m really curious about this one because I really liked “The Hate U Give” and I think it was such an important book with a strong message. I’m pretty sure “On the Come Up” will be the same so I can’t wait to see what Angie Thomas is doing with Bri’s story.

Did you already read this and did you like it as much as “The Hate U Give”?
Talk to me and let me know! ;-)
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,399 followers
November 23, 2021
🖤 Yes, injustices will no longer prevail 🤘

God, this book is so damn good!

Young adult done right!

Live your dreams like LIVE YOUR DAMN AMAZING DREAMS!

I love the characters so much! The side characters. The family vibes. The friendship. The relationships. And, wow, I didn't expect the serious issues of racism and discrimination, police brutality, addiction and recovering, poverty and hunger, social media and news hype, LGBTQIAP and coming out could be handled so well!

Damn right. This book needs more hype like the first book!

I just love the writing. It's so upbeat and engaging. I love the word flow like nothing stopped the author from speaking her mind and nothing could stop the clueless readers to keep on reading. It's not only just some fiction to enjoy but also something urgent and important that would make you want to work anew for your dreams all over again.

The situations in the story are quite realistic with amazing, convincing characters. The perfect balance in handling grief, romance, hurt and uncertainty worked so well.

I just love the solid family and friendship bond representation.

I mean WOW. The best part? The humour here and there out of nowhere!

I love you, Angie Thomas.

You are a genius!

I cannot wait for the upcoming book!

And hell yes, I am still rocking to 🤘On The Come Up 🤘 like the only part I can yell to is to
'On the come up, nope, nope' like my reading life solely depends on it. And for the rest of the lyrics I do pretend I know them and my old hoodie is her Black Panther hoodie 😎

And yass, do check out the last song. It's the fire that would keep my dream wings flapping! The emotions and the urge! So damn worth it!
Profile Image for Erin.
3,093 reviews484 followers
February 26, 2019
Damn, I loved this book! The Hate U Give was one of my favorite reads in 2017 and it looks like On the Come Up is going to make my 2019 list. Angie Thomas absolutely nails "voice" and "characterization " in her storytelling and in 16 year old Brianna, an aspiring rapper, she creates a protagonist that I was cheering for from page one.

That's what we call our goal, the come up. It's when we finally make it with this rap stuff. I'm talking get-out-of-the-Garden-and-have-enough-money-to-never-worry-again make it.

This will most likely not be a shock to anyone but I don't know a lot about the hip hop industry and the only time I really listen to rap music is when one of my high school students plays it during basketball in the gymnasium. But Angie Thomas was a teenage rapper at one time and the way this story unfolds certainly makes me wonder how much of the story is her actual story. So many characters remind Brianna to be true to herself, but I liked how Thomas really flicks the microscope on the industry, its artists, and social media.

Another clear winner for me is that there are so many types of relationships in this story. Brianna and her mother, Jayda. The tight sibling relationship between Brianna and her big brother, Trey. Probably one of my all time favorite characters was Brianna's Aunt Pooh( Katricia), a member of a local gang who has always been Brianna's chief cheerleader when it comes to her music.

So many characters and even though Brianna is the main lead, as a readerI felt really get to know so much about each of them and a sense of their importance in Brianna's life. There are just so many incredible scenes of dialogue between Brianna and the other characters. Without spoiling too much, there is this incredible scene between Jayda and her sister Katricia that still gets me a bit misty eyed.

Like The Hate U Give Thomas also looks at racism in our society. Brianna's rap aspirations come head to head as she is dealing with something that happens at her school and in her home. When her fellow students use one of her songs in their peaceful protest, Brianna finds her identity struggles to now be interwoven with the music she writes.

But I don't want people thinking that this book is just heavy because there is plenty of laughter to be found too. Especially between Brianna and her pals Malik and Sonny.

Tweety Bird? The love of my life. Big Bird? I don't trust that ho. Plus, have you seen his nest? He probably hides bodies in it.

But I guess Curtis is cute in the same way rodents are weirdly adorable. You know how you'll see a baby mouse and will be like "Aw, cute! Until that bitch is raiding your cabinet, eating the Halloween candy you hid from your little sisters.

So I definitely loved this book. I certainly would recommend it to others. Even if you weren't a fan of The Hate U Give, give it a shot. Lastly, I would love to hear what other readers have thought and would appreciate a good discussion.
Profile Image for Brandice.
910 reviews
May 7, 2020
Uh oh. After loving The Hate U Give, I was very excited to read Angie Thomas’s next book, On the Come Up. I’m bummed, however, to say it was just an ok read for me.

Sixteen-year old Bri Jackson lives in the Gardens but attends a prep school in another, better neighborhood. Her mom is 8 years clean, following the death of Bri’s dad, and is now going back to school to become a social worker. Her brother, Trey, recently graduated college and is living at home trying to help his family out - Bills and unsteady jobs threaten their stability. Her father, a local rapper, Lawless, died years ago. Bri also wants to be a rapper, often dubbed as “Lil Law” by others, but has difficultly breaking out of the shadow of her father, who was well-known in their neighborhood.

Recognizing first and foremost this is a YA book and therefore I’m not the intended primary target audience, I have to say it felt very YA. The dialogue often seemed cheesy. For a book that was not the same as T.H.U.G, there appeared to be numerous similarities: a bad neighborhood (the same one in fact), an older brother the MC seems to idolize, and a stance against social injustice, though more subtle in On the Come Up. The ending also felt abrupt, possibly leaving the door open for future installments?

This wasn’t a bad book and it has many great reviews - It just wasn’t for me. Maybe my expectations were too high after T.H.U.G, but I wasn’t wowed by On the Come Up.
Profile Image for Katy O. .
2,315 reviews723 followers
February 8, 2019
Angie Thomas didn't just live up to the expectations I had after reading and loving The Hate U Give, she went to an entirely new level with On The Come Up. As a school librarian and reviewer of a great deal of young adult literature, I can tend to feel a bit of ”been there, read that" with many stories. This isn't a knock on YA, it's simply a result of being an adult reading a lot of YA. However, with On the Come Up, Angie Thomas brings a fresh and vital story to the genre, and also one of the most amazing voices I have ever read in any level of literature.

This story is about the systemic racism (and poverty) that prevails in America and the realities of so many Black youths in our country. It hits rap culture, racism, police brutality, gangs, drugs, and more. Thomas doesn't hold back in her scathing criticism of the current state of things (and many of the people) in fictional Garden Heights and the surrounding wealthier neighborhoods, projecting to the cities of the US as a whole. What impresses me the most is her ability to build empathy in readers for characters who so often are written as villains - she digs deep into why drug dealers are dealing, why addicts are using, why parents abandon their children, why families are living in poverty, why gang members are in gangs, why some rappers are using the lyrics that they do, and more. The why is honestly the most important part of all of those issues when reading through a critical lens with the knowledge of the systemic racism that has always plagued the US.

Reading this book at the same time as The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration and immediately following Heavy: An American Memoir gave me such important context to bring to the story. I also recently read Rap Dad: A Story of Family and the Subculture That Shaped a Generation which helped me immensely as a reader who listens to NO rap music, but holds a very healthy respect for the genre as a cultural standard.

On the subject of issue book vs. non-issue book - this is a capital-I-issue book. And it's the gold standard of such. If you get a chance to listen to Angie Thomas' interview on the podcast "It's Been a Minute", please do. It added such a rich layer to my reading of this book because it made me understand completely who this book is for and the motivation for writing it. Thomas makes it blatantly clear this book is for the Black kids in neighborhoods like the one she grew up in in Jackson, Mississippi and how closely the neighborhood of Garden Heights is based on this same neighborhood. Sure, this book is a window for suburban white kids and middle-aged white women like me, but that's not who she's really doing the work for.

In addition, her words in the interview about the attempts to ban The Hate U Give are spot on. When she describes how an 8-year-old wrote to her after reading it and said his mom gave it to him and he loved it, she talks about how some white moms are worried about their 13-year-olds reading it. She lays it out that if a Black mom feels that her young son needs this story because of his reality, then white moms shielding their teens from even reading about it is absolute privilege. That hit me so hard. The attempts to keep OTCU out of hands of teens will surely come, and I guarantee Bri would have words to throw back about it. This is the life and circumstances that teens are living, and the very least white parents and teachers/librarians can do is encourage more privileged kids to read it, rather than shield them from it. As for the kids that Thomas is writing for, let's all do our part to get this book to them. In any way possible.

If you are a white adult who claims to "not read YA because I'm an adult", I challenge you to READ THIS BOOK. Open your mind. Listen. Learn. You don't need to review it, but know that Thomas is speaking her truth, as well as the truth of a vast number of people in our country. Honor them and hear the story.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,065 reviews1,903 followers
June 22, 2020
It's like having a bucket of ice water thrown in my face.

Ratchet hood rat.

Thousands of people just heard me act like that. Millions more may see the video. They won't care that my life is a mess and I had every right to be mad. They'll just see an angry black girl from the ghetto, acting like they expected me to act.

Supreme laughs to himself. "You played the role," he says. "Goddamn, you played the role."

Problem is, I wasn't playing. That's what I've become.
pg. 355

OKAY, even though I was resisting (RESISTING), I am going to have to give Angie Thomas five stars for this one.

Why were you resisting, Carmen?

Well, you know. YA isn't my thing. I have an aversion to YA. Real-life teenagers? I like them. Fictional books about teenagers? Nah. They are usually forced, awkward, and lame. Just can't stand 90% of YA. It's so contrived. Probably because it's written by adults about alleged "teenaged" experiences.

Secondly, the girl in here is a rapper trying to make it big. Music is not my thing, reading about music is definitely not my thing. I've said this before: play guitar? Think that's sexy? Not to me. Want to write a book about being a singer? Not for me. Playing piano and auditioning? No. So this rapping, make-it-big story is not my cup of tea. I don't give a shit. Any musical plot or plot that revolves around instruments or performing, singing, rapping, or being a musician is totally not interesting to me.

Despite these two strikes against Thomas at the onset, she still managed to impress me a lot. She's a talented writer. She draws you into her story. She does a good job of blending the serious topics of her work (racism, gangs, protest/riots, poverty, drug addiction) which are very topical and more typical teenage dramas like is-he-going-to-kiss me?, will-my-mom-find-out?, and teenage friendships and their ups and downs.

This could easily be very contrived. It could easily be awkward and lame. But Thomas is smooth. She is able to naturally blend everything together and do so with an authentic voice that doesn't make it seem like she is creating a narrative to fit her agenda. Instead, it seems like an honest-to-Betsy story with an honest-to-Betsy plot and real characters. Sure, it's YA, and therefore centers on teen issues (which might make some people weary) - Heaven knows 'teenage issues' make me weary - but for a YA book it's pretty natural and gripping.

Same with the discussions of race and racial issues. Yes, it's very appropriate right now. But it's easy to jump on a topical current-events wagon and ride it for money. That's NOT what Thomas is doing here. When I first heard about The Hate U Give, that's what I thought Thomas was doing. Jumping on a current-events wagon, and with a fucking YA book to boot. However, I was wrong. I ended up giving The Hate U Give five stars. And now I've ended up giving this book five stars. That means something. Thomas can actually write.

Yes, Bri, the main character in this book can be stupid at times. But she's a teenager. Teenagers do stupid things sometimes and don't think things through. (Ha ha, so do adults, but usually life has knocked some sense into them by then.) I usually am rolling my eyes, but I found Bri's moments of stupidity to be believable, even if I didn't enjoy them.

Also, Bri stands up for herself brilliantly. Sure, there are some times in the book when she SHOULD stand up for herself and doesn't - but again, teenager. It's easier to railroad teenagers sometimes. But overall her self-confidence and ability to speak out was admirable and encouraging. I was cheering. She did not have the self-doubt I would have had in those situations. She tells off people with a clear voice, and I admire that. Her friends, her elders. She has a lot of courage. I admired that and respected it.

It always seems like Thomas is writing a long-ass book - I'm always surprised by the length of her novels when I pick them up - but it goes quickly and I don't think she is padding it nor do I think she needed a better editor. The length suited the book. I feel like she needed the page-count in order to say what she needed to say.

Another strike against Thomas is that this is her second book. The shininess has rubbed off. People know her schtick now. This can be awful - see Andy Weir or Ernest Cline for examples of authors who blew people away with their first book only to sadly reveal that they were a one-trick pony with their second novel.

I was afraid that was going to be Thomas, as well.

Because, let's face it, she's writing about the same area, the same basic ideas, the same types of situations... it could have been a disaster.

But it wasn't. Here's to hoping she's got a decent third novel inside of her.

TL;DR If you have hesitated to pick up an Angie Thomas book, I'd encourage you to give it a shot. I know it's tempting to dismiss her books as riding a current-events bandwagon, and the idea of suffering through a YA novel might make some people cringe. However, if you give her a shot you might be surprised. I certainly was. Her books are actually good, not your typical YA dreck and I feel like she writes flowing, authentic, naturally-formed stories instead of relying on trying to force some emotions and dialogue. Not an easy thing to do. Props to her. I'd recommend giving her a chance to impress you. If this cynical, hard-hearted reader actually enjoyed her books, there's hope. Not to mention I'm a YA-averse grump.

If you care about representation, there are both gay male characters and lesbians in this book.

“Flash Light” by Parliament https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F7xb...

“Sky's the Limit” by The Notorious B.I.G. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3vOe...

“Kick in the Door” by The Notorious B.I.G. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRfnW...

“A Tale of Two Citiez” by J. Cole https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB7gy...

“Niggas in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG_dA...

“Deep Cover” by Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg

“Shook Ones, Pt. II” by Mobb Deep

“Silent Night” by The Temptations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0mgk...

“Fuck Tha Police” by NWA https://youtu.be/Z7-TTWgiYL4

“P.Y.T.” by Michael Jackson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZZQu...

“Apparently” by J. Cole https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRaFM...

Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
872 reviews3,754 followers
March 10, 2019
So good! I had Bri's songs stuck in my head the whole time I was reading this. Loved how this unpacks the "angry Black woman" stereotype through Bri's school experience and music.

Audiobook review: Narration is great. It's the same voice actor who did Children of Blood and Bone for reference. There is some yelling, which is always a pet peeve of mine for volume control, but I'd still recommend the audio!

tw: racial profiling, gangs/gang wars, drug dealing, addiction (character is recovered, but there are references and flashbacks to when she was using), death of parent (in the past but referred to often)
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,337 reviews352 followers
March 28, 2019
I started reading On the Come Up on 3/16/2019 and finished it on 3/28/2019 at 12:30am. This book is an excellent read! I love that it takes place in the same neighborhood as the author’s first book and the bits and pieces of the first book were mentioned on here. I can’t recall if Bri’s dad was mentioned in The Hate U Give since I read it awhile ago. The characters are likeable. I like Bri’s older brother, Trey. He’s such a caring brother and a good son. I like Bri’s friends Sonny and Malik, especially Sonny and his out of this world specific examples and cute love life. I like Bri’s mom, more on how she protects her kids. I’m disappointed in her when she retreats into her room like a turtle hiding inside its shell. Despite their hardship, Bri’s mom wants no free handouts from her in-laws and wants her daughter to experience her teen life without worrying about bills. I like learning little life lessons from reading books and books by this author definitely has them.

This book is told in the first person point of view following Brianna (Bri) Jackson, 16 as she attends an ACT prep class with her best buddies Malik and Sonny. Bri isn’t worry about the ACT, instead she’s waiting for a phone call. She wants to take part in the Ring, a place to give wannabe rappers a chance to be heard through a battle. Bri’s father was a rapper, known as the underground King until he was killed and Bri’s mother is a recovering drug addict. Bri’s older brother Trey, 22 graduated with honors but have a hard time finding a job. Their home life is hard especially when Bri’s mom loses her job. All Bri wants is to make it big as a rapper to improve her family’s life, but with what little she has to rely on, there will for sure be challenges. This book is divided into 3 parts.

On the Come Up is very well written and hard to put down. I enjoy reading this book almost as much as the author’s debut, though, her debut makes me laugh more. That competitiveness between Bri’s family on the UNO game and Michael Jackson Wii game is fun to read. I like the bit of romance and flirting though I thought Bri shouldn’t let his hands wander on their first kiss. I like when books are written in the first person point of view because it feels realistic. I like learning how Bri experience discrimination and racism being an African American, either going to a store or attending a school that has fewer students of the same race. It reminds me of why I often stay away from entering those stores with few customers because I don’t enjoy the sales associates’ eyes on my back either. Another winner from Angie Thomas and I highly recommend everyone to read this book!

Pro: fast paced, page turner, couldn’t put down, rap music, poetry, family, friendship, diversity, humor

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

***Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from my local library and my opinions are honest.

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
721 reviews254 followers
July 28, 2020
This was a fantastic story, as to be expected from the author of The Hate U Give.

“There's only so much you can take being described as somebody you're not.”

On the Come Up follows Brianna Jackson, a sixteen year old aspiring rapper. With her mom struggling to pay rent and her school’s security guards targeting black and latinx students, Bri hopes that her raps are enough to warrant permanent change.

After a spectacular debut novel, I had high hopes for Angie Thomas and anything she would put a pen to in the future. Those hopes were not misplaced, as this book certainly delivered a powerful punch.

Bri is a protagonist that grasped my interest from the start. It was so gripping to follow her through rap battles and ongoing personal struggles. Thomas manages to capture and narrate several important topics through Bri, topics like poverty, racism, violence and addiction. I could hardly stop reading because of how strong the narrative was.

It was really interesting to see Bri navigate the world of hip hop at such a young age. The author does a nice job demonstrating the protagonist’s youth through bad decisions and strong will. Bri’s friends and family were all well developed and frequently present in the story, too, which I loved to see.

I can hardly complain about what was delivered. This is a great story.
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