On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
“There’s only so much you can take being described as somebody you’re not.”
Another amazing novel from Angie Thomas. The Hate U Give was such an impactful and raw story, I had no idea what On the Come Up was going to have in store as a follow up. Equally as honest, but a different type of story.
As I mentioned before, THUG was a powerful story that tackled an important issue. It was a book that is brave, rebellious, and eye-opening. It doesn’t just tell you a story, it screams it. It stops its feet, waves its arms, and says “I’m here. I’m human. I’m valid. Here’s my story. Here’s why you need to hear it.” I wasn’t sure if On the Come Up was going to be similar in that sense.
On the Come Up has something important to say as well, but it just wasn’t the same type of topic. I think if you liked THUG, you’ll enjoy this one. It solidifies Angie Thomas as a great writer, brings complex characters, and stays in the same world as THUG. In fact, it’s just a few blocks away.
I loved Thomas’s writing in THUG, but how you know when a writer is actually good and not a one-hit-wonder is the follow up book. Whether that be a sequel or their second stand-alone novel. This definitely cemented her as a writer I will gravitate towards. I find it easy to sink into the character’s lives seamlessly. It’s like you’re part of the family, walking down the street as a friend, and just a piece of their consciousness. Absolutely no one captures what it’s like to have a brother like Thomas does. Any time Trey pulled anything to antagonize or mess with Bri, it felt exactly like when my brother would try to pull the same things. She also knows how to create a story around tough issues without making it soapbox-y.
Bri’s life is definitely more complicated than Starr’s was. Not saying Starr’s life was easy, but Bri was faced with challenges from all sides when Starr was hit with challenges from a few sides. Bri’s mom lost her job while they were already barely able to make ends meet. The floor was always close to falling out from underneath her. I liked Bri because she is tough and feisty. Although I think her feistiness may cause some people to not like her as immediately as Starr. I enjoyed all the times she fought back against the people who tried to confine her to a box. She kept breaking through those six walls no matter how many times others tried to build them back again.
We didn’t get a Starr cameo like I hoped we would. However, Bri lives in the same neighborhood Starr did. Being back in Garden Heights after the events of THUG was interesting. Bri mentioned multiple times what happened over the past year or so alluding to THUG. Of course, those of us who read it know the details of it all. But if you didn’t read THUG, Bri gives enough detail where you will not feel lost.
On the Come Up was full of quotable lines, moving storytelling, and a whole lot of heart. Angie Thomas writes with everything she has and it just bleeds from the pages. If you’re not reading what she writes, you’re missing out.