Book Review: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: An "own voices" book TW: racism & race-related violence, gang affiliation ...

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: An "own voices" book

TW: racism & race-related violence, gang affiliation

When I first saw Angie Thomas was writing a new novel, I absolutely knew I had to read it. Thomas broke down so many barriers with The Hate U Give, sharing a voice with folks who wouldn't ever see the perspective of Starr and others like her. I wasn't sure how On the Come Up could top it. And as soon as I saw it was an option for Book of the Month's February pick, I threw it in my box and shipped before it was even February!

The novel follows Bri, a Black teenager from the Garden District who attends a mostly White private school of the arts. An aspiring rapper, her song goes viral after some systemic race-related violence happens at school. But she's hiding thing from her friends and her family, and maybe she's going in a direction she wasn't originally planning. She has to decide to choose between fame and family.

On the Come Up is every bit as terrific as THUG. While there is still a heavy focus on social justice, Come Up is a bit less "in-your-face" than its predecessor. There's still heavy race relations, violence, gang affiliation, drug dealings, and very real situations that light needs to be brought upon. And while I was more than emotional reading the book, it hit me in a completely different way than THUG did.

Both books are full of very real everyday situations that are happening to people of color on a regular basis. It's a terrifying realization and really eye-opening for White folks who carry a privilege based on race. These are the things that are happening all the time, and Thomas's books are an insight into the fear of these individuals and the power that a collective group can have.

"They may have beef, but just because they don't like each other doesn't mean I can't like them both. Besides, I refuse to ever 'choose' between two women." - Angie Thomas, On the Come Up

The characters Thomas writes are relatable and so strong. YA books are some of the most powerful books out there. The dialogue is realistic, the conversations are witty, quick, and will make you feel all the feels.

I loved the hidden Easter eggs between THUG and Come Up - the community is the same, but the characters in the two books have family/friends on the two different sides of competing gangs (King Lords/Crowns & Garden Disciples). I appreciated that the books aren't technically a series, but are set in the same "universe." Though the story from THUG isn't descriptively mentioned by name, if you've read the it, you'll make the connections.

Angie Thomas is such a talented writer and so smart with her stories. I was so enamored by On the Come Up and I cannot recommend it enough!

Goodreads rating: ★★★★★

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