On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Genre: YA contemporary
Secondary genre: Current affairs, BLM
CW: language, mentions of drug use and gang violence
Rep: Black, poverty, LGBT

While Angie Thomas’s books are not classified as a series, they are all set in the same world. You do not need to have read The Hate You Give to enjoy this book, though there will be some familiar faces and background information that might enrich the reading.

I’m not a fan of rap music, but I knew that was a big part of this book (Angie Thomas was a rapper in a previous life) to the point that it included lyrics, so I made sure to get the audio version of this book, and I highly reccomend it.

The Garden–the fictional neighborhood where Thomas’s books are set–has seen better days. Now it is a poverty-stricken neighborhood where gang violence rules the day, cops shoot first and ask quesetions later, and there are more boarded up shops than open stores–that the ones that are open usually have a shotgun under the till.

Yet this is where Bri calls home. Her mother, a former drug addict, works hard to send Bri to an arts high school in another neighborhood. But when her mother gets laid off, things are more than dire for Bri and her family. With the heat and power shut off and little in the pantry, Bri longs to use her voice to bring her family finacial freedom. Sick of taking handouts, she enters the ring–a weekly rap battle run by a local DJ that has spawned world famous rappers. It even kicked off her dad’s career, before a gang shooting ended it and his life.

But Bri’s words go further than intended and take on meanings she never intended. Now the school is threatening to expel her, the cops thing she’s a danger, and the gang that killed her father has put it’s sights on her. Fame and fortune can’t come fast enough, but even if they do, will they be enough to get her out of the Garden?

While this isn’t the usual type of book for me, I love Angie Thomas’s writing and I found her first book to be incredibly moving. While Bri and I come from vastly different backgrounds, I still found her extremely relatable. She is an absolute Queen, though she learns a lot through the course of the book. I would actually love to see a follow up story about her and the colorful cast of characters from this book.

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