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review 2020-02-01 22:28
On the Come Up
On the Come Up - Angie Thomas,Bahni Turpin

Bri Jackson is the 16-year-old daughter of the late "Lawless," a rising star in the hip-hop world, killed when Bri was only five years old. Bri aspires to be a rapper, not so much following in her father's footsteps as finding her own voice and forging her own path. She has a shot at starting on that path when she is chosen to be in rap battle at "The Ring." She quickly demonstrates that she has a talent for freestyle rapping and immediately begins to receive attention.

At her school, a high school for the arts, Bri is targeted during routine security screening, and the incident quickly escalates and leads to an unfair suspension. Bri pours her frustration and anger into lyrics for her first rap song, "On the Come Up," which her Aunt Pooh arranges for her to record. Once she has the courage to upload and share her song, it quickly gains popularity.

When the song is used for a spontaneous protest against the security guards at school, and her lyrics are interpreted in ways Bri never meant, she soon becomes uneasy about the potential power of words. Meanwhile, she feels intense pressure to establish a career, because her mother is out of work and struggling to keep the lights and heat on. The pressure includes a possible record deal, but does that require playing a role and rapping words that aren't her own?

I highly recommend this book. Readers who have read The Hate You Give will recognize certain references to events in that book, though On the Come Up is not a sequel. Like Starr Carter in the earlier book, Bri lives in the Garden Heights neighborhood. But she does not know Starr or any of the other characters that Starr associates with.

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review 2019-10-16 00:00
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Starr Carter feels as though she's divided into to selves.  There is the Starr she is in her inner-city community and the "Williamson Starr" she is at the private school she attends.  At school, she chooses her words and behaviors carefully to avoid being seen as "ghetto."


One night, leaving a neighborhood party after shots are fired in the house where it is being held, Starr and her friend Khalil are pulled over by a police officer.  The encounter with the officer goes wrong, ending with Khalil fatally shot and dying in Starr's arms.


The shooting becomes national news, and wildly differing accounts of what happened and why are quickly circulating.  Starr must make decisions about who can know she was "the witness" and what role(s) she should play.


This book is powerful and serves up equal parts drama and wit.  The characters are nuanced and feel very real.  The story moves along in a compelling way and doesn't try to end in a too-tidy manner.

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review 2019-10-12 02:16
A must-read
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

This book is so good and so painful and so inspiring. I definitely cried at least twice reading it. An important perspective and an important book.



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review 2019-08-14 15:06
On the Come Up!!!
On the Come Up - Angie Thomas

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.


My review: ALL THE STARS!!!!!


First off, YESS, this book me a month to finish but it was my own fault and had nothing to do with the book itself.


Angie Thomas. I just want to praise her for her amazing writing, her incredible and very real characters, her heartbreaking and beautiful stories, and most of all I want to praise her for the incredible family dynamic she writes in her books.


Bri. My precious baby. She frustrated the shit out of me sometimes but man, I JUST LOVE HER. I love her loyalty to her family and her friends. Her incredible talent. I LOVE HER. I truly loved the wonderful friendships she had, most of all, like I already mentioned, I loved her family. Jay, Trey, even her grandparents, okay, her grandma grew on me only towards the end, LOL!!!


All the struggled that this family had to go through to just provide for basic household needs. Life is so unfair. But I loved how these three never gave up. All three were fighting for their family in their own way. I was totally rooting for them from the start and just waited for every break they could get.


I loved the rapping element of the book, it's something I never even dipped my toe in, so it was fun to read. And I just love how Bri managed to find her way in this weird world of pretending. I'm so happy with how things worked out for her.


I highly recommend this book!!!!
And god, I can't wait for everything else that Angie Thomas is going to publish in her life.

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review 2019-04-03 22:57
Did Not Heart as Much as The Hate U Give
On the Come Up - Angie Thomas

Well, though I did enjoy this book, I didn't love it as much as The Hate U Give. I could not help making comparisons between Starr and Bri (the main character in this one) and also about the story-lines. I think in the end that Bri was more frustrating to me as a reader. She really doesn't listen to anyone, though in the end that causes her to forge her own path that can lift her family up out of poverty. However, how realistic is it for many teens to go out and become rap superstars? Should that be a dream that is pushed? Do we hurt our youths with them seeing millionaire and billionaire rappers out there and think they need just that and forget about school? I think in the end Thomas was pushing for that happy ever after and I thought she was more realistic about things with how she ended "The Hate U Give."


Bri is dealing with the effects in this book from the fallout of story-lines in "The Hate U Give". The not guilty verdict of the police officer and the rioting cost her neighborhood grocery stores and jobs. One of those jobs affected is her mother's were her job is cut and now Bri's family is dealing with more even more issues surrounding paying rent, providing enough food to eat, gas and heat. Bri has dreams though of becoming a rapper and a superstar that will provide her mother and brother with enough so they don't have to struggle anymore. Though two of Bri's childhood best friends do very well at their school. She often is in trouble for her "attitude" and isn't doing her best in her PSAT courses. She has dreams of going toe to toe in "The Ring" and winning against other underground rappers.


I have known many boys and girls who have wanted to become rappers and who also wrote very good raps and in the end didn't get that break they needed. Heck, my brother was one of them and even traveled to MTV back in the day and battled. He got to the semi-finals and didn't end up getting the final call back, but I was very proud of him for pursuing what he wanted. So Bri's aspirations were not a shocker to me. I think what shocked me was that she was hanging her hat on making it. We find out her father was an underground legend until he was murdered. You would think that would make her hesitant at going forward with it, but she only seems to think on her father if someone is getting in her face about it and when we get to a later story-line about her getting his chain to wear.


So Bri was written pretty consistently the whole way through and we get to see her feelings about her family, her friends, her school, her lot in life. The raps we get to read I thought were great here and there and a few I thought were just okay. I do wish that Thomas had touched more about how black girls are seen. What does it mean to be called "angry" by other people and showed Bri pushing back on those tropes. She doubled down on her anger to a point that sometimes I was ready to shake her. 


The secondary characters though we do get to delve into a bit. Bri's older brother is struggling after graduating college and not being able to find work. Her mother is a recovering addict who fought to get her children back and is still paying for what she did with regards to her in-laws. Bri's best friends seem to come in and out of the story-line with Thomas trying to echo student grassroots organizations like she did in "The Hate U Give". Bri's aunt and that whole story-line was a big old miss with me. I just felt like Thomas was trying to push too many ideas into one book.


The writing was a bit uneven here and there (usually when seguing into Bri's raps) and then the flow dragged a bit as well. Still written very well, I just think it could have been tightened up a bit. 


Unlike with "The Hate U Give" where you see a blended African American family that loves each other and will do what they can for each other. Thomas takes a look at a single mother struggling to provide for her two children. Both of these books takes a look at modern African American families though I thought that Thomas had a stronger message in the first book. 


The ending as I said above was a bit too happily ever after for me. But maybe Thomas wanted to show young black girls and boys that they don't have to defer their dreams, you keep pushing even if everyone says they are unrealistic. 

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