On The Come Up

            Brianna is a sixteen-year-old rapper from Garden Heights whose dream is to get her “come up”. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas introduces us to Bri and her brilliant abilities to freestyle rap and write rap songs. Following in the footsteps of The Hate U Give, On the Come Up addresses the prevalent sexism allowed to run amok in the rap industry and screams about the injustice at the top of its female protagonist’s lungs. Bri is the perfect young woman to make us listen to her glorious rhymes.

            Reading Bri’s songs on the page was a very interesting experience. I felt like I could hear Bri’s voice in the words, the beat coming through and radiating from the book. I also loved the short rhymes that popped into Bri’s head throughout the novel. It showed her thought process as well as why she had such an ability to freestyle. If you’re always thinking about rhymes, you’ll always be ready to pull some out of your head and match them up with a flow of ideas.

            It took me quite a few days to think about what I could critique about this novel. Angie Thomas is a crazy awesome writer who knocks it out of the park every time. Finally, I came up with one little thing: a couple of the smaller plot moments were predictable. The larger moments were completely surprising, but there were a few moments that I got the feeling should have been surprising and weren’t. This isn’t a big deal to me as a reader, but I could see why some would take issue with it.

            The realistic characters in this story were amazing. My favourite characters were Bri’s mom Jayda, and her brother Trey so those are the characters that I’m going to briefly talk about and explain the aspects that I think make them realistic. Firstly, Jayda is such a strong and resilient recovering addict who is doing everything she can to keep her children fed and sheltered. She does an amazing job showing both her strength in everyday life and her strength in the moments of sadness and despair. Her son and Bri’s brother, Trey, is a recent graduate of a university with a psychology degree. Even though he’s done his degree, he has had to come home and work at a pizza shop while struggling to help his mom pay bills. Despite the common occurrence of Trey’s situation, we don’t hear about graduates like Trey in the media because it means that university isn’t the saviour that people want it to be. I enjoyed that they portrayed him as realistic, rather than him swooping in to save the day by being a university grad.

            Though this book didn’t hit me in the feels quite as hard as The Hate U Give, On the Come Up still pulled on my heartstrings and gave me the gift of a broader perspective and learning about situations that I could not possibly understand. Angie Thomas, thank you for another phenomenal novel that is sure to bring more light to the brilliant female rappers like Bri and their daily struggles in this male-dominated trade. I recommend this book to everyone – after you read The Hate U Give. Both novels are so important to read and contemplate right now.

            I’ll leave you all with a final thought. Go and look at your bookshelves. Think about how many of the voices that are sitting there patiently are written by people of colour, by LGBTQ+ people, and by other voices that are not white and not male. I hope that now and, in the future, you have the ability and the opportunity to choose more diverse voices to read in every genre.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5


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