I waited to read On The Come Up because I was worried it wouldn’t live up to Thomas’ first novel, The Hate U Give. It may not have been as life-changing as that first book, but it was fabulous. It doesn’t address the issues of social justice quite as directly as it does in The Hate U Give, but it touches on something just as important: the day to day lives and struggles of a community and those hoping to make themselves proud. The problems this book highlights are more subtle: racial profiling by school security rather than a city cop shooting an innocent teen.
At 16, Bri’s number one goal is to make a name for herself in the rap world. She has inherited her late father’s talent and actually has a chance of making it. It’s not just fun and games for her. Money is tight and bills are piling up. If she wants to shun the gangs and drug game that’s taken so much from her family already, she has no choice but to make her dream come true. Sounds trite, but it’s as important as anything can be.
While a 34 year old like me would normally think a teen wanting to become a rapper is unrealistic and silly, I finished this book with hope that it could happen – and also wanted it to happen. I felt the strength of her desires like they were my own. I was rooting for her. Thomas’ ability to shape my mindset is a testament to her talent.
4 out of 5 stars.
Pair with: Milk Bar’s cereal milk…because there are several scenes of Bri eating cereal and this would make that snack anything but sad