Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
I want to be very clear from the start, I am a white girl and understand all the privileges of that and honestly, IMHO my critiques of this work should be considered secondary to those of the black community. I highly recommend checking out Bowties and Books review
On The Come Up by Angie Thomas was absolutely phenomenal! Like blown away and had to walk away and sit down and think about what I had just read. There is so much I want to say about this book, first off this was truly an “own voices” novel all the way down to it being written in typical black vernacular.
Bri is a character who you just feel for and sympathise with almost instantly, and her life and troubles highlight the dangers of the “Angry Black Girl” stereotype. From the very start of the novel Bri is continually and unfairly targeted for being black and having opinions, continually she is reprimanded for making comment, rolling her eyes, or answering a question the teacher asks.
I love that we get to see the reason so many black women grow up “angry” the criminalization, the stressors, the expectation that they are perfect and demure all the time. I love how this book shows how quick the white American culture is to jump up an down and blame everything BUT racism for any of the issues and how soon as a conflict happens the fault falls on the Black and Latinx communities.
I really enjoyed specifically the subplot of Bri’s Aunt Pooh and her inability to escape gang life, and how easy it was for her to choose that life with so few options given to her. I especially enjoyed not one but two queer characters that were seemingly accepted by most of the people we meet, something not always seen in POC stories. I found the story of Bri’s mother’s struggles to leaver her former drug use in her past, and how no one would let her do so. This book has so many great topics within it.
I did have a few issues with the way everything just kind of fell off and resolved so quickly in the end of the book. like it seemed as within a few pages everything got all wrapped up and was happy as. But overall this was a great book with so many good stories within it and some great lyrics.