If you are looking for something cute, powerful, and heartwarming, On the Come Up by Angie Thomas is where you need to look. It deals with so many taboo topics like racism, sexism, police brutality, and the list literally goes on. It’s insane how much Thomas can fit into a 450 page novel, but somehow she does it effortlessly and creates amazing novels like this.
If you are an avid reader on my blog, which by the way you should be, you would remember the post I made about going to the Angie Thomas book signing. I had a great evening with my girlfriends, but Angie really made it something to remember. She is incredibly intelligent and every sentence that she makes comes with a message. That is what this book does.
On the Come Up follows Bri, an African American 16 year old girl who can seriously rap. Her father used to be a huge rap legend before he died, and Bri definitely got those genes. All Bri wants to do is to rap, but besides the annoyance of schoolwork, she also has to try and help her mom and brother pay rent and bills. Bri constantly has the threat of losing power and food in the back of her mind. On top of all of that, one day when Bri is walking through the security set up at school, she is tackled by one of the guards for allegedly carrying drugs, which she was not doing.
This novel deals with so many serious topics. The main one being racism. Bri’s school is full of mostly white people, and Black and Latina’s were only let in so the school could get a certain type of funding. Yeah, absolutely ridiculous. These students also face harassment from teachers and security guards, Bri being exhibit A, everyday at a place where they literally just want to learn. Bri as a character stands up for herself so many times, and in one specific case, she refuses. I really love that Thomas included that one refusal in this book because it shows people that yes, standing up for yourself is important but, you come first. If it jeopardizes your safety or feelings of safety, don’t do it. It sheds a new light on Bri and it’s a really important experience for people to read, especially young children.
While Angie tells an incredibly heart-wrenching and powerful story, she also adds great relationships and side characters. I think the best relationship was between Bri and her mom. Her mom, Jay, used to be a cocaine user and had to give her children to their grandparents while she could get treatment. Since then, it had put a strain on their relationship in a way that neither of them could control. It was just a looming presence between them. Throughout the story we really see that strain break away, and a real mother-daughter relationship was created. It was really sweet to see and definitely made me shed a few tears!
Overall, this is truly an exceptional novel. I gave it five stars on GoodReads and would give it 1000 if I could. Angie Thomas also has another novel called The Hate U Give which is a really great read as well. I highly recommend both novels! Comment below if you have read either book and what you thought of them!