Title: On The Come Up
Author: Angie Thomas
Date Read: March 29, 2019
One and a half snaps.
Another YA novel from Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give.
Thomas creates strong voices for her central teenage characters that rap with swagger and trade in inner-city barbs. Maybe that’s what makes me old, unhip, and a little disengaged.
Although I can’t rave about how I couldn’t put this book down, because I did multiple times; I do know it has appeal for audiences much younger (and cooler) than I .
Bri is a sixteen year-old with a passion for rap. She is startled by her own success in ‘the ring’ where she battles line for line with some of the best rappers from her neighbourhood. The pressure however, is palpable– as she is constantly juxtaposed with her successful father who was on his way to success when he was murdered.
Thomas judiciously covers several plots that help her closely examine race, prejudice, and our deep desire to do the right thing– and to stay true to ourselves despite what looks easy and thrilling.
Bri sums it up in this short snap here:
We can’t have any power, either. I mean, think about it. All these people I’ve never met have way more control over my life than I’ve ever had. If some Crown hadn’t killed my dad, he’d be a big rap star and money wouldn’t be an issue. If some drug dealer hadn’t sold my mom her first hit, she could’ve gotten her degree already and would have a good job. If that cop hadn’t murdered that boy, people wouldn’t have rioted, the daycare wouldn’t have burned down, and the church wouldn’t have let Jay go.
All these folks I’ve never met became gods over my life. Now I gotta take the power back.
And Bri does take the power back with her intelligence, thoughtfulness and skill; she is a wonderfully strong and fully-developed female protagonist. Worth a read if you’re a rap-savvy high-school student!