On the Come Up
Booklist Reviews 2019 February #1
*Starred Review* Thomas follows up her blockbuster, The Hate U Give (2017), with a sophomore novel that's just as explosive. On the Come Up tells the story of talented Bri, daughter of a deceased underground rapper, who's pursuing her own rap career. Bri is more than her dreams of making it out of the hood and reaching rap stardom; she is a girl who loves her family and friends fiercely. Bri's chance at fame comes after a rap battle in which the song she pens garners massive attention. When Bri's mother loses her job, Bri's rap ambitions become more crucial than ever. They could be her and her family's ticket to a better life unthreatened by poverty. Bri is a refreshingly realistic character with trials and triumphs, strengths and flaws. She's also a teen with a traumatic past who is still going through things in the present. She still, however, manages to find the beauty and joy in life despite her tribulations, and this is where On the Come Up truly shines in its exploration of Bri's resilience, determination, and pursuit of her dreams. ?In this splendid novel, showing many facets of the Black identity and the Black experience, including both the highs and the lows of middle-class and poor Black families, Thomas gives readers another dynamic protagonist to root for. High-Demand Backstory: Thomas' debut, The Hate U Give, might ring a bell? She had a long-term stay on the New York Times best-seller list for her first novel, and the hype for her second is damn near deafening. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2019 #2
If reading The Hate U Give (rev. 3/17) was like listening to 2Pac, intent on capturing the emotional impact of injustice, On the Come Up is more like Biggie, focusing on the experience of "coming up" while refusing to deny the complexity of moving out of one's community through education, notoriety, or fame. Sixteen-year-old Bri attends a public arts high school and dreams of being a rapper like her father, who was murdered in a gang shooting outside their house when Bri was young. Her mother, a recovering addict, and her studious older brother, recently admitted to graduate school, work hard as they worry about making ends meet, and they face the perpetual indignities of a world that unfairly judges poverty as lack of character. After winning a rap battle in her neighborhood (the same setting as The Hate U Give), Bri—who is already known at her school since being thrown to the ground by security officers—becomes "hood famous." Doors start to open; her father's old manager wants to take her on as a client—but it comes at a price Bri isn't sure she is willing to pay. The narrative builds to a crescendo that forces Bri to decide who she wants to be as a rapper and a person. With sharp, even piercing, characterization, this indelible and intricate story of a young woman who is brilliant and sometimes reckless, who is deeply loved and rightfully angry at a world that reduces her to less than her big dreams call her to be, provides many pathways for readers. Secondary characters—including Bri's two best guy friends and her fiercely protective drug-dealing gang-member aunt, along with her strict but loving paternal grandparents—make for a remarkably well-rounded cast. A love letter to hip-hop, with Bri's lyrics and her thought process behind them included throughout, this richly woven narrative touches on themes familiar to Thomas's readers, such as the over-policing of black bodies and navigating beloved communities that are also challenged by drugs and violence. christina l. dobbs March/April 2019 p 91 Copyright 2019 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2019 February #1
Thomas's highly anticipated follow up to