Updated: Feb 27
“That’s when I learned that when people die, they sometimes take the living with them.”
“Church is full of people with plenty to say and nothing to do. You’d think some of them would help us instead of talk about us, but I guess it’s easy to say you love Jesus and harder to act like him.”
On the Come Up was written by the bestselling author, Angie Thomas. She is best known for her acclaimed book and movie, The Hate You Give. I, unfortunately, have not read this book. I, however, have seen the movie and I can tell you that this is not the same book. Often when an author does well with a standalone or even a series, they tend to create the same content which eventually becomes repetitive. Angie gratefully did not follow this trend. On the Come Up is entirely a unique concept with a new plot. This book tells the story of an adolescent girl named Brie who wants to follow in the footsteps of her father by becoming one of the most talented rappers of all time. As she fights to reach her dreams, she goes through many struggles like poverty and gang trouble.
I initially gave this book five stars, but looking back on everything that happened, I feel like I need to drop a star from my rating. While I enjoyed the book, there are a few issues with it I could not look past. Regardless of my rating, I could see myself reading it once more, and recommending it to others to read. What I loved most is it gave readers an inside look at the world that is underground rapping. It also shares the struggles that people of color fade when living in poverty. What I did not enjoy was the leading character, mostly because of her lack of growth. Brie is the same person at the end of the book she was at the beginning. The lack of growth on her part bothered me because she is the person leading the story. Her opinions and actions drove me up the wall and never let me back down. Excluding Brie, every other character was fantastic and realistic. The characters and overall plot of the story are what kept me interested, despite Brie’s personality.
As mentioned, Brie was my least favorite character in the book. However, her aunt Pooh was my favorite. What I loved most about her aunt is that she had so much depth in her personality, and while she did not grow as much as she could have, I feel like she suffered consequences for her actions. The mother was also spectacular in her role; she reminded me of a lot of women I have encountered in my life, including my mother. I did like the inclusion of lgbtq+ members, I just wish they were a part of the story more. It honestly feels like something she flung in at the last minute to make the book extra inclusive. I am however delighted they were included, even if they had very minimum parts. The rest of the characters were great, and each of them had their moments that added something significant to the overall story.
I especially enjoyed the hip hop that was presented throughout this book. It took us back to the roots of hip hop. Therefore, if you’re expecting modern music from the radio, then you will probably not enjoy this. Now when I say it took us back to the roots, I mean the rapping in this book focuses purely on what that person is going through or who they are battling. This is how rap started, so I am entirely grateful that Angie did it this way. I likely would not have enjoyed this aspect of the book if she did it any other way. Even someone who isn’t a fan of rap could likely consume this book and still enjoy it. Old hip hop was not about women and cars, it was about the struggles people go through. It was a way to express their beliefs and experiences with their listeners. Angie hit the nail on the head for this, I was not disappointed at all.
In addition to the characters and music, this plot was equally wonderfully written. One thing that concerned me was the fear that the pacing would be too quick and that we would rush through every scene without fully dissecting it. My fears were misplaced because this plot was not only believable but also well-executed. Angie had me on the edge of my seat countless times, pondering what was going to happen and anticipating what came next. Rarely do I find books that can keep me in such enjoyable suspense. I don’t want to describe the plot because I feel like that would ruin the story for potential new readers. All I will state is to expect to have a lot of emotions, if you are anything like me, many of them will be annoyance targeted at Brie.
Overall, this was a decent and well-written book that I enjoyed. It has its issues, but it is still among one of the better books that I read for the Bratz Readathon Challenge. I would like to read it once more to see if the initial issues still bother me as much as they did the first time I read it. I cannot wait to pick up more of Angie Thomas’s books. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.