On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas is a story about one girl’s struggle between doing what is best for her family and following her heart. Bri, a high school teenager, loves to rap and feels most comfortable when writing lyrics. Her father has died, her mother is eight-years drug free, and her older brother works at a local pizza place to help pay the bills while putting grad school on hold. As the story unfolds, readers are immersed into the struggles of an inner-city family who cannot make ends meet and every corner seems to offer a new struggle instead of a window of opportunity. Much can be inferred from the grit and determination of the character,s and Thomas does not disappoint when it comes to character development.
Thomas really does an excellent job connecting the reader to her characters, and at times I felt like I was in the same room as them, observing their ups and downs. Secondary characters play major roles in the development of the main characters, and I could truly identify with the inner turmoils Bri faced. She knew that she had potential as a musical artist, that others had her back because of her rapper legend dad, and that one day she would break through the daily struggles of not knowing where the next meal would come from. As those around her try to run her life and make decisions for her, she falls back on her talents and abilities.
Unfortunately, On the Come Up by Angie Thomas was a letdown after reading The Hate U Give. Although this book held my attention, it was not a “can’t-put-it-down” type of book like her debut novel. Themes of teenager love, drug abuse, inferred gang violence are minor themes in this book, and add to rather than take away from the plot. Strong language is used throughout the book, but I believe it aids the reader in feeling more connected to the characters.
I give On the Come Up 3 out of 5 stars.