On the Come Up

On the Come Up

This is the highly anticipated second novel by Angie Thomas, the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning The Hate U Give.

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least get some streams on her mixtape. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her mom unexpectedly loses her job, food banks and shut-off notices become as much a part of her 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.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are, and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working class black families.

Brilliant, insightful, full of heart, this novel is another modern classic from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation.--from the publisher

320 pages    978-0062498564   Ages 14 and up  (Grades 9 and up)


So, what's it like to be the daughter of a legendary rapper and the daughter of a mother who chose drugs over motherhood back when you were five years old?  What's it like to live in a house with that same mother and have to choose between paying for food and paying for electricity?

Sixteen year old Bri is setting her sights high.  She wants to make a statement and she wants to raise her mother and her family out of the hard place that is their life.  She tries to make some money on the side by selling candy to the other students on the bus on the ride to school or home.  She hates standing in line for the free food.  She hates that she is looking at a pair of knock off Timberlands and those are the only Timberlands she can think about affording.

Bri's neighborhood has gangs.  Her neighborhood also had riots when injustice felt like the law of their land and those rioters damaged the church where Bri's mother worked.  The church had to save its money to rebuild so Bri's mom was out of a job.


Bri's story finds its way through the hypocrisy at her neighborhood church, through the judgment of her grandparents, past the life of her brother, Trey, who worked hard in school, who graduated from college and who now cannot find a job.

It goes all the way to the day when Bri gets thrown to the floor at school and accused by the security guards of being a drug dealer.  They never bothered to look in her backpack to see the candy bars there.

It goes all the way to the day when Bri goes down to the Garden to compete in the ring and her raps earn her a big reputation.  Can she really follow that path?  How far will it take her?  How high can her dreams fly?

It must be a challenge these days to write a story our young adults will want to read and to walk the tightrope of entertaining them and maybe, just maybe, slipping in a message that they deserve dreams, illusions, a way out.  The hard part seems to be finding that way out.

A character you'll root for, a dream you might want for yourself, and plenty of hope and perseverance that shine.

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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