On the Come Up

The Hate U Give‘s author, Angie Thomas, has created an even more compelling protagonist, Bri, in On the Come Up (2019).

Bri is a high schooler living with her mom and older brother, because her father, the locally-famous rapper Lawless, was killed by gang violence when she was little. She wants to rap, too, and her Aunt Poo gets her a shot in a ring battle, where she kills her competition. Aunt Poo isn’t really reliable, though, because of her gang involvement, and things at home are difficult, because her mother has just lost her job, and her brother, though he graduated from college, is working at the local pizza shop to help keep the family afloat.

Bri isn’t sure if she has feelings for one of her best friends, Malik, one of the Unholy Trinity she has with their third member, Sonny, but all her mother wants her to do is keep studying and go to her ACT prep classes. Studying gets harder and harder to do, when the lights are shut off in their house, and her grandparents are certain her mother is doing drugs again, although she’s been clean for 8 years now. If Bri could only “make it” she could solve all of their family’s problems.

After Bri is assaulted by security guards at school, she writes a song and gets the chance to record it. Will she use her voice to help change things, or just make the revenge and retribution worse?

Thomas has written an engaging and thoughtful book–I loved it, though Bri and her family had a lot to deal with. I loved the queer representation and the fact that there were zero descriptions of a character’s body size–it was completely weight-neutral.

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