I do not usually read a lot of YA and my somewhat lack of interest in it means I also don’t pay much attention to it. I like to vote in the goodreads Choice Awards Best Books of the year every year and I only vote in categories where I have actually read at least one book. Wouldn’t be fair to vote for something I haven’t read and in the case of YA, I had only read one book and really only recognized it. And that book is The Come Up. I voted for it in each round, something else won but it’s my favourite YA read of the year (wink, wink)!
The Hate U Give was my favourite read of 2017 – I read it twice that year and again last year I think. I am not the target audience for YA books but The Hate U Give spoke so loudly to me and to so many others I know. It’s such an important book. So imagine my excitement when I found out Angie Thomas’ second book was going to be published. Excited and maybe a bit worried because to me, it had big shoes to fill. That’s probably an unfair expectation to put on an author and their book but I think it happens all the time. That worry was not needed in any way; On The Come Up is great!
On The Come Up is about Bri, a sixteen year old aspiring rapper who lives in Garden Heights (same place The Hate U Give takes place which was fun). Her father was shot before he made it big in hip hop but he’s a legend with big shoes to fill in her neighborhood. Bri attends an arts high school and while her mother reminds her school is the #1 priority, Bri wants to make it big in the hip hop world and that’s a big focus for her. Her mother struggles to make ends meet and Bri wants to help but her dream is bigger than that. Her Aunt Poo, entangled in the Garden Disciples (also from The Hate U Give), is Bri’s manager until Bri’s star starts to rise. The story continues from there but I don’t want to give too much away as it’s a great read!
The story is about Bri chasing her dream as a teenager facing teenager things as well as discrimination due to the colour of her skin and what is seen as her bad attitude. She is supported and challenged by her mom and her brother; she has two great best friends and finds an unlikely friend and supporter. It’s a teenage story and it’s a celebration of hip-hop in a way or maybe an ode to it, but it’s more than that. On The Come Up also has important messages that young adults should be learning about. And important messages that many adults should be reflecting on.
I believe you can learn so much by reading books. Non-fiction for sure but fiction can give you an opportunity to see into a life that is unlike yours, to gain some insight into someone else’s experience, especially experiences you wouldn’t have. Angie Thomas has gifted us with two great, interesting stories that are so important in today’s world. I encourage everyone to read it but if there is a young adult in your life and you need a gift, wrap up On The Come Up. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed!