On the Come Up has so many layers to it that I barely know where to start…
Located in Garden Heights, the same setting as The Hate U Give, Brianna is eager to find a way out of the only life she knows. With a dad who was killed by one of the local gangs, a mom who was once a drug addict, an aunt that runs with the wrong crowd, and a brother who knows how to “correctly” act in different situations, Bri wants only two things – to be a rapper that changes the world and to take care of her family so they no longer have to live without electricity, food, etc.
Bri has what it takes to do the first, which can hopefully help with the second, so early on, she finds herself getting invited to a rap battle at the Ring, a local spot for up and coming musicians. Bri crushes her opponent with lyrics that everyone in Garden Heights can relate to, assuring her that the creativity she got from her daddy, Lawless, is a not a joke. Unfortunately, she learns very quickly that it’s never that easy to get big…
Just when Bri thinks she may have a way out with her music career, she finds herself in a muddy situation that her white peers cannot relate to. Attacked by Long and Tate, the two security guards of her charter school, after refusing to hand over her bag, Bri ends up suspended, mad, and scared. Knowing she has something to say, Aunt Pooh, gets her a recording spot for her first song.
In a world of artistic thinking, Bri raps with metaphors and examples of her life in the hood. She spits lyrics about the rival gangs, what they did to her daddy, and the fact that if you attack her again, “You will get done up.” She metaphorically claims that she is “strapped” and ready to fight for her rights. All of which get her in trouble with the gangs in her neighborhood and the white moms and dads of her posh school looking for diversity.
Learning to tame her tongue and find who she is outside of her surroundings, Brianna grows in ways that are equally painful and rewarding. Once again, Angie Thomas will open your eyes to segregation issues being faced in America.
You don’t want to miss this story.