My Thoughts: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Let me tell you how I’m not happy about breaking my TBR to fit this book in, but I will say that I’m happy I read it. I loved Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, and I knew I would love On the Come Up.

If you’re looking to find The Hate U Give Part 2, you’re looking in the wrong place. Different family, but same world. Bri is a young teenager looking to make a name for herself as a rapper. Her father was a rapper because he was murdered by a rival gang. Her mother was devastated by his death and turned to drugs for a little while. Her family isn’t doing well to keep the lights on. As you can tell, there’s a lot of stuff happening in Bri’s life and she feels the need to help in some way. So she tries to make her rapping dreams come true.

First off, let me talk about Angie Thomas’s writing style. This book reads like a teenager wrote it. Not to say that it’s full of slang that you can’t tell what’s going on, but it’s enough to make it relatable to many young people today. On top of that, it really brings the story together. The neighborhood Bri is from, the people in her life, these tiny mannerisms like they way they talk or carry themselves really brings these characters to life. I can picture what was going on very well and I could feel how Bri felt in all of her circumstances.

Which made it easy for me to see the slight “micro aggressions” Bri deals with everyday. Bri lives in a world where she’s constantly underestimated. The first big incident in this book is watching Bri get thrown to the ground with a knee in her back. The security team at her school stops her “randomly” and she refused.

I loved her mom. Jay sacrificed a lot so that Bri and her brother, Trey, had a good education and didn’t have to worry about money. She was also eight years sober from drug addiction, which says a lot about her mindset and how she wants to be there for her kids. She really was an amazing person and I wish she knew it. You can sense Bri gets a little tired by her mom, but she never says it and she never loses her patience. I think that also says a lot about her given that she flies off the handle quickly and gets angry.

When Bri records her first rap song, I was so happy for her. I don’t know much about rap music, but I can imagine it being a great song with lyrics that really speak to the world Bri lives. The song alone is a huge metaphor for the rest of the book. I kept thinking to myself about how the world expects Bri to be this hardened criminal when she wasn’t and putting herself in danger to perpetuate that persona to the world. It’s so sad.

I felt like the big theme of this novel was prejudice. There’s prejudice towards rap music. There’s prejudice towards African Americans living in a certain area. There’s prejudice about gangs and gang affiliation. I feel like Angie Thomas covered a lot of ground in this book and she did it in a way that really made sense.

I can relate a lot to the prejudice Bri faces. While I don’t consider my life and hers a reflection of each other, I face prejudice a lot. People asking me how I learned how to speak English so well. People asking me when I moved to America. No one wants to believe that I grew up here, that I learned English the same way they learned English. They want to believe that I’m an immigrant and learned English by watching American TV.

The funny part about the prejudices in this book is that they were coming from everyone. Not only did certain white characters think Bri was a “hoodlum” or “ratchet,” but certain Black characters wanted her to feed into that rumor for the sake of making money.

Playing with gangs and affiliating yourself with them are no joke, but it feels like it’s the persona people want to see from Bri. Because she’s a rapper from a father who quasi-associated with some neighborhood gangs, the only logical solution for her is to do the same? From what we’ve learned about Bri, it doesn’t make sense. She’s a good kid trying to make her dream come true and faced with the gangster rapper persona. It’s disheartening and Bri saw right through that.

And throughout the novel, you get the sense that Bri is just your average teenager. She has a crush on a guy. She’s studying for the ACT. She loves Star WarsBlack Panther, and eating junk food with her friends. She doesn’t have a stable home life and she wants to help change that, but her mom wants her to have a good education and graduate from high school.

The ending was definitely a happy one for everyone and I’m glad of it. It all comes together pretty seamlessly and makes sense with the story. I would have hated if somehow Bri sold herself out for some money or got hurt or in trouble. I would have hated if she got everything she wanted within a short period of time. I loved that it ended the way it did. You can’t stop her on the come up, nope nope!

Find On the Come Up on Amazon.

Find my review on Goodreads.

8 thoughts on “My Thoughts: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

  1. I have personally not read “The Hate U Give” yet. I’m so behind on my reading list, but this review is making me add this one to the list as well! I remember being in love with the Perfect Chemistry series because of themes of different worlds and difficult circumstances. Fast forward a few years and these are still prevalent themes. I look forward to reading these two hits!

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  2. Then what question is to be asked that is not prejudiced. I am not trying to be argumentative. Seven years ago my son and his wife adopted a black 3 month old baby boy. And last year it dawned on me that I do not know the life this child is going to live because I am flour white. So I have been on a reading spree – Dyson, Tatum, Coates, King Jr, and others. And you are the first to say this, and I really do not understand why these are prejudiced questions, statements or thoughts. Forgive me Simone, you do not look like a typical American so, to me, it is the next thought – you are an immigrant. That would be my first thought, then when I heard your English, I would be more curious about you, in a loving way, not a bad way. Right now I am very confused as to what I can ask, or say, without causing bad feelings. Thank you for talking with me.

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    1. I completely understand if you’re not trying to be argumentative. I know these are questions many Americans have, but I think the issue is just looking at me and assuming automatically that I wasn’t born here. Yes, my parents were immigrants, but they had me here and about 90% of the Asian Americans I meet are American citizens. I think my grandma was the only person I knew who actively worked on becoming an American citizen. But the issue is that you take one look at me and assume I’m not from here. Why is that? Because of the way my face looks? What does a “typical American” look like?

      I totally have friends and family who have been curious just to know. I get that and I’m happy to answer a question of “What is your ethnicity? Where does your family’s heritage come from?” but going right to “where did you learn English so well?” is a direct assumption that I am NOT an American citizen, which is the issue. People see my face or the face of a Latinx person or an Arabic person and they automatically think we’re not from America. We weren’t born here. We don’t know the customs. We don’t speak English, etc etc. And that prejudice breeds negativity sometimes. The number of people who are asked to speak English or the number of people who threaten us is astounding. Go back to China! I’ve heard that one so many times, but I know no other country.

      I completely understand you want to be considerate when asking these questions, but being direct and saying “What is your ethnicity? Where is your family’s heritage from?” or “Were you born here?” brings about an honest curiosity about who I am. But this question has brought around a lot of animosity to many of my Asian friends. Some won’t even entertain your question because they’ve heard it so many times and so exhausted by it. Many of my Asian friends would prefer you don’t ask because it comes off that you’re more interested in figuring out our ethnicity than knowing us for who we are. We’re constantly answering these questions and proving to people we’re Americans. It’s extremely exhausting.

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    1. Thank you immensely for taking the time to go in depth in answering me. I am sorry there are so many rude and crude people to say those mean things to you. I lived in Turkey for 13 years, so I have a flavor of this kind of thing. I know it is not the same, but similar.

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  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading On the Come Up as much as I did! It’s hands down my favorite book I’ve read in 2019 so far. I definitely loved the way Angie Thomas was able to shed light on microaggressions and how the assumptions everyone makes about Bri keep her from being able to define her own life at a certain point. Amazing review!!

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