Updated: Oct 20, 2022
Award-winning author Angie Thomas’ most notable work is her young adult novel The Hate U Give. The story handles the topic of injustice for people of colour in the law system. The book won multiple awards and ultimately brought attention to the skill and talent of Angie Thomas, as well as presenting a new perspective on the shadow that racism casts on the USA. The book follows a young girl fighting for justice after a police officer shoots her childhood best friend. When Kathie Meizner, from The Washington Post, commented on this book, she said, “This big, important novel is fueled by vividly drawn characters and large themes of systemic racism and speaking truth to power.” After her success with The Hate U Give, Thomas continued to write another novel entitled On The Come Up, where she did a magnificent job at tackling yet another vast issue within racism. Her inspiring story and way of displaying racism draw the reader’s attention to the increasingly prevalent issues our society faces.
On the Come Up follows the story of a sixteen-year-old aspiring rapper and her journey to success. The main character, Brianna, fights for her dreams, even when it seems like the whole world is against her. After her father, an underground hip-hop legend of Garden Heights, is killed by a gang, a young Brianna is determined to follow in his footsteps of music stardom. Despite her mother’s protests, Brianna participates in a rap battle, which kick starts her career, getting her noticed by people all over the Garden Heights community. She struggles to create and maintain a positive image for herself and stay true to who she is, as she learns that the world of social media is a manipulative place.
Throughout the story, there are several challenges she has to overcome; One of the most prominent challenges occurs just as she is starting her journey to fame. A quick judgement leads to Brianna getting stopped by two security guards at her school who commonly target the Black and Latinx students. Her peers record the interaction, and they begin their fight against a corrupt school system. The book spotlights stereotypes that you may not consciously think about, and talks about how, especially for people of colour, freedom of speech isn’t always free.
Other complex issues incorporated in the novel include poverty, drugs, family issues, and police brutality. Brianna’s mother, a recovered drug addict, struggles to keep her family afloat with the heavy burdens of bills and necessities. Brianna realizes that she no longer just wants to make it; she needs to make it for the sake of her family.
Readers can empathize and connect with Brianna as she navigates through a twisted world as a teenage girl. Angie Thomas makes her readers laugh, cheer, gasp, and get goosebumps while reading this fantastic book. If you are looking for a book with a unique perspective on racism and important issues in today’s society, On The Come Up is the perfect book for you.