Book Nerd's Night Out: On The Come Up

March’s Epic Reads Book Club has been one of my top favorites ever. As per usual, the event was held at The Bookmark in San Patricio Plaza, where we had the honor of talking to Angie Thomas. Just knowing that I spoke to Angie Thomas still makes me giddy with emotion and happiness. Angie Thomas is the author of The Hate U Give, her debut novel that was published in 2016 and has been #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for two whole years going on three.

The Hate U Give was a phenomenon that earned a film adaptation in 2018. Now in 2019, Angie’s second novel, On The Come Up, has hit shelves and it debuted at #1 on the NYT Best Sellers list. The Hate U Give is still at number two. The Hate U Give reclaimed the #1 title, but On The Come Up has remained at #2 and the book sisters have remained that way since publication. Angie Thomas truly is a force to be reckoned with.



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On The Come Up is the story of Bri, a high school student who wishes to become a rapper. She is dedicating all of her time and energy to make her dream a reality. Much like The Hate U Give, there is a lot of social commentary on the daily struggles that black people in the United States go through. That's part of the reason that this book just hits you like a ton of bricks.

Angie's books are so incredibly real and they show us things that we might not know about and might not experience personally. Since a lot of Her Campus at UPR's readers are Caribbean and Latinx, you can probably relate with a lot of the things Bru talks about. For example, stereotypes of minorities as angry and vengeful, as hood rats... I thank her books for bringing light to themes of discrimination, race, ethnicity, and womanhood. You can also read Luna's full review!

Angie Thomas was an absolute delight. I had an idea on how she might be since she has such a great presence and voice on Twitter (you should all follow her honestly) and she was everything and more. We experienced some technical difficulties, but the mood never dampened and the problems were handled with a lot of humor. If you’ve read On The Come Up (and if you haven't, please drop all your plans and READ IT), you know that the book ends at a cliffhanger. During the book club, it caused a lot of debate, my first instinct was to ask her to tell us what happened and try to get her to confirm my theory. She laughed and said that she would never answer that question truthfully.

In the book, there are a lot of rap scenes and lyrics that Angie Thomas wrote. She told us that it was the hardest part of the book because while she had originally wanted to be a rapper when she was younger, she never learned the craft well and she wanted to give it justice in her book. She was successful, but she would never do it again. She wanted Bri’s lyrics to be a lot more meaningful, which is why she explained that they were the hardest to write, while her rival Mylz’s were the easiest because they were rougher and more despicable.

Angie Thomas explained that there is no right way to write, that you have to find your own pace and time and figure out what works with you. Some people opt to go to school to learn the craft, while others read a lot and teach themselves. She said that you should write what you want to read and find in a bookstore instead of something that will sell. She quoted her friend, author Julie Murphy, who told her to write as if you get paid to do it, and eventually you will get paid to do it. One poignant part of the conversation was when she explained that there’s still a long way for diverse stories and writers, but you shouldn't let it scare you from writing. Our voices deserve to be heard and they are valid. There's always a reader who will connect with our stories and they are worth it.

In an interesting reveal, she said that Starr from The Hate U Give and Bram from Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda are cousins, meaning that those stories exist in the same world and there could be more crossovers that she has mentioned about working with her author friends. I don’t know about you, but that nearly gave me a heart attack. I would love to see how those stories would connect and to see if Starr and Bri ever meet each other in her next book. As it is per book club tradition, she gave us some book recommendations which were: Dear Martin by Nic Stone, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and anything else by him, and Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson.

The book club then concluded with Angie Thomas rapping the lyrics of one of the final rap battles of the book, titled On The Come Up, and it was the most iconic way of ending a book club. It was truly an honor to have her there and be able to talk to her. I hope she can come to Puerto Rico one day as she said she’d like.

The next Epic Reads Book Club will be held on April 24th at 6:30 and the book is Heroine by Mindy McGinnis.