Reviews for On the Come Up

by Angie Thomas

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Thomas's highly anticipated follow up to The Hate U Give returns to Garden Heights, but her new protagonist, 16-year-old Brianna Jackson, faces different challenges than the previous novel's Starr Carter. Bri's mother, Jayda, a recovering crack addict, has lost her job. The rent is late, the heat has been shut off, and Jayda must choose between staying in college and feeding her kids, because welfare benefits don't include food stamps for unemployed students. Bri attends an arts high school, and she dreams of making it big rapping-a talent she inherited from her father, a neighborhood legend who was shot to death when Bri was four. She begins to gain notice in the local music scene, but her success draws the unwanted attention of the gang suspected of killing her father. At the same time, an incident at school connects her with activists. Bri's artful rhymes convey her fears, frustrations, determination to challenge societal stereotypes, and growing awareness of her own talents. As in The Hate U Give, Thomas introduces readers to an unforgettable cast of characters who seek to thrive in close-knit neighborhoods that are also shaped by violence and systemic racism. Bri is a fully realized character who is both sympathetic and, occasionally, maddeningly impulsive, and the well-crafted dialogue, with some laugh-out-loud shade throwing, propels the dramatic plot. Ages 14-up. (Feb.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 8 Up-Aspiring rapper Bri records "On the Come Up" to protest the racial profiling and assault she endured at the hands of white security guards at her high school. The song goes viral, and Bri seizes the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of her late father and lift her family out of poverty, but her loved ones worry, especially when some listeners paint her as an angry black girl inciting violence. Tension mounts as Bri's mother loses her job, Bri's relationship with her beloved aunt and musical mentor splinters, and a new manager dangles the prospect of fame and wealth-at a price. Set in the same neighborhood as Thomas's electrifying The Hate U Give, this visceral novel makes cogent observations about the cycle of poverty and the inescapable effects of systemic racism. Though the book never sands over the rough realities of Garden Heights, such as gang warfare, it imbues its many characters with warmth and depth. While acknowledging that society is quick to slap labels onto black teens, the author allows her heroine to stumble and fall before finding her footing and her voice. VERDICT Thomas once again fearlessly speaks truth to power; a compelling coming-of-age story for all teens.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Thomas follows up her blockbuster, The Hate U Give (2017), with a sophomore novel that's just as explosive. On the Come Up tells the story of talented Bri, daughter of a deceased underground rapper, who's pursuing her own rap career. Bri is more than her dreams of making it out of the hood and reaching rap stardom; she is a girl who loves her family and friends fiercely. Bri's chance at fame comes after a rap battle in which the song she pens garners massive attention. When Bri's mother loses her job, Bri's rap ambitions become more crucial than ever. They could be her and her family's ticket to a better life unthreatened by poverty. Bri is a refreshingly realistic character with trials and triumphs, strengths and flaws. She's also a teen with a traumatic past who is still going through things in the present. She still, however, manages to find the beauty and joy in life despite her tribulations, and this is where On the Come Up truly shines in its exploration of Bri's resilience, determination, and pursuit of her dreams. In this splendid novel, showing many facets of the Black identity and the Black experience, including both the highs and the lows of middle-class and poor Black families, Thomas gives readers another dynamic protagonist to root for. High-Demand Backstory: Thomas' debut, The Hate U Give, might ring a bell? She had a long-term stay on the New York Times best-seller list for her first novel, and the hype for her second is damn near deafening.--Enishia Davenport Copyright 2019 Booklist


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Sixteen-year-old Bri attends a public arts high school and dreams of being a rapper like her late father. After winning a rap battle in her neighborhood, doors start to open--but at a price Bri isn't sure she's willing to pay. Thomas's sharp, even piercing, characterization includes a remarkably well-rounded cast. A richly woven love letter to hip-hop, with Bri's lyrics and her thought process behind them included throughout. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

This honest and unflinching story of toil, tears, and triumph is a musical love letter that proves literary lightning does indeed strike twiceThomas' (The Hate U Give, 2017) sophomore novel returns to Garden Heights, but while Brianna may live in Starr's old neighborhood, their experiences couldn't differ more. Raised by a widowed mother, a recovering drug addict, Bri attends an arts school while dreaming of becoming a famous rapper, as her father was before gang violence ended his life. Her struggles within the music industry and in school highlight the humiliations and injustices that remain an indelible part of the African-American story while also showcasing rap's undeniable lyrical power as a language through which to find strength. Bri's journey is deeply personal: small in scope and edgy in tone. When Bri raps, the prose sings on the page as she uses it to voice her frustration at being stigmatized as "hood" at school, her humiliation at being unable to pay the bills, and her yearning to succeed in the music world on her own merit. Most importantly, the novel gives voice to teens whose lives diverge from middle-class Americana. Bri wrestles with parent relationships and boy dramaand a trip to the food bank so they don't starve during Christmas. The rawness of Bri's narrative demonstrates Thomas' undeniable storytelling prowess as she tells truths that are neither pretty nor necessarily universally relatable.A joyous experience awaits. Read it. Learn it. Love it. (Fiction. 13-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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