Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. It’s hard to get your come up, though, 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.
On the Come Up is the second novel written by Angie Thomas. Guys, I was really looking forward to reading this one. I had such high hopes after reading the amazing novel that is THUG, that I was really excited. But I should have known. I should have been prepared for the disappointment.
Angie Thomas touches on so many different important social and political issues with this novel including misogynoir, classism, stereotyping, drugs and much more. All the ingredients to create an exceptional novel that would really speak to me as a young Black girl, especially misogynoir.
I think this novel suffered from a case of SBS – Second Book Syndrome. *Please visit my post on Children of Virtue and Vengeance to find out the meaning*. There were passages that I struggled to read and I was really bored in places. Sometimes, I would put the book down for days at a time and even re-reading this, I struggled. However, the writing style was clear so I think it was just the plot at times tended to drag. That being said, there is a certain point in the novel where I felt like everything begins to pick up and I couldn’t put it down.
I really liked how Angie Thomas discusses drugs in this novel. She touched on it in THUG but she really gets into it in On the Come Up. We see it in particular with Aunt Pooh. In THUG, Maverick talks about how drugs were introduced to the Black community and how it affects the communities that tend to be struggling. But also, how those in these communities may only be selling drugs because that’s all they know. There’s a sense of helplessness and naivety with Aunt Pooh that really made me feel sorry for her. At first, I was a bit irritated with the way she was treating her niece but, I could see she genuinely meant well.
Bri left me feeling so conflicted. Our headstrong protagonist made my heart ache. She wanted to break out into the rap industry so badly. Her love and desire to help her family was something I understood. However, her impulsivity made me want to shake her and shield her away from the rest of the world. I loved her determination but winced every time she made a decision that I knew would end up with her being exploited or potentially putting herself in harm’s way.
“Unarmed and dangerous, but America, you made us, only time we famous is when we die and you blame us.”
Angie Thomas plays on the stereotyping of young Black girls within society and the misogynoir jumped out of these pages. She was first judged for her race in her predominantly white school and experienced prejudice and discrimination. However, she was also exploited by men within her community, especially her new ‘manager’, because she was a girl. They wanted her to fulfil the angry black girl stereotype that was created racist capitalist societies to keep black women oppressed. We saw it in the way they wanted to control her through this stereotype. It didn’t help she was incredibly young.
But, Bri broke free of that stereotype.
She refused to let society tell her who she had to be.
Other books by Angie Thomas: