Bookish Wednesday: On the Come Up

Sixteen-year-old Bri is out to take names. Her one goal: to become a rapper. She’s angry and rightfully so. Her father was murdered as he ascended the ranks of his rapping career. Her mother is eight years sober and her brother is wearing himself thin. They can barely afford food. They can't afford rent and their life is crumbling. Bri can’t take it. She wants to do more. She’s helpless in the face of discrimination and racism, but she won't let it stop her.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Angie Thomas (@angiethomas) on

 

Electric and lyrical, On the Come Up is a book that everyone has to read. Angie Thomas’s narration style winds you up. Her shifts in tone, from serious to relatable to funny, captivates your attention and makes you sink deeper into the life of Brianna. You’re caught in wanting to figure out what will happen. The events are anything but predictable, and at times, you’ll want to fling the book away because of frustration. I read this book in about four hours, and I’ve got to say that it was so worth it. You cant help to read in beat the scenes in which the rap battles are written out, and even after reading these scenes, I kept reading in the beat. The pace at which the story is set is just right.

Angie Thomas explores themes of race, class, gender, discrimination, racism, and oppression. One thing that is called into question is the treatment of white students versus black student. With the main character Bri being at the center of it all. She rolls her eyes and gets sent to the principal’s office but one of her white classmates mouths off and they get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. The obvious treatment disparity will make you angry and it will make you feel helpless, especially since things like this happen all the time. The issues that Bri faces as a young and black resound deeply with the current political climate.

Bri’s struggle is genuine and authentic. She is a young black woman who lives in the ghetto, as she puts it, just a few blocks away from the projects. Bri speaks out against the “random” pat-downs of black and brown students. She speaks out against the obvious mistreatment and she is angry that she has to be docile in order to survive. Brianna goes through an identity crisis because she is more than “a hood rat” and she refuses to play that part, especially to sell records. Her struggle isn’t a persona. It's part of who she is. She especially realizes the danger and the abuse that black people constantly live in and are subject to (just because of the color of their skin) when she is thrown on the floor during a “random” search.

This book has just the right amount of love throw in. It helps develop Bri’s identity. She is angry, yes, but she is strong. She is passionate She is incredibly talented. She is more than the labels white people so badly want to put on her. Most of all, she refuses to be a puppet.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Angie Thomas (@angiethomas) on

 

Honestly, my experience in reading this book was fantastic. Spoiler ahead: the best part of the book is when she steps into the ring for the first time. She absolutely crushes Miles, and Angie Thomas so masterfully writes rap herself. I decided to listen to the rap that she mentioned in the book while I read the book, so I got a multi-sensorial experience. I also realized that Illmatic by Nas is nothing less than amazing. I couldn’t stop reading and I wanted to know more and more and more. I empathize with the main character and I got angry when she got angry. The ending was so satisfying, as well. I give this five out of five stars. Below, you'll find the official Spotify playlist! I just found out about it.

You can talk to Angie Thomas about her book on Thursday, March 28 of 2019. She'll be this month's host at The Bookmark Epic Reads Book Club. You can also join the giveaway of a manuscript copy of On the Come Up on our Twitter! It closes today so be sure to join.