on the come up book cover

On the Come Up, YA Novel Review

On the Come Up by author Angie Thomas

On the Come Up is a young adult novel from author Angie Thomas. You may also know her from The Hate U Give. I read THUG the summer before I started this site so I can’t link to a review but I was truly impressed by it and am glad Thomas has impressed me yet again.

On the Come Up features protagonist Bri, a teenage girl with big dreams of becoming a rapper. She wants to lift her family out of the ghetto by becoming the next big thing. And she might actually have the talent to make it happen.

Bri’s raps are fire on the page. You can read them with a perfect beat and it’s an impressive feat of modern poetry for an author to transcend genres like that. Her first rap of the book really grabbed me as a reader and I was ready to root for her to hit the big time.

Bri’s journey takes her farther than someone her age is ready to go. Suddenly she must deal with consequences much larger than getting grounded. A small lie becomes a big problem and real world penalties are being handed out. How is she going to navigate this storm of fame, racism, class struggles, and gang activity?

The short answer is that she needs help. But as most young adults are likely to do, she doesn’t immediately go to the right help. This book is about growing up too quickly and feeling far more responsibility than you should have to at a young age.

The YA book fully explores what it’s like to be a young, black, lower income, American female. Thomas proudly displays cultural importance balanced with real fears and concerns. Some of the experiences may be familiar to some readers, other readers should feel blessed when they find themselves clueless.

I am no stranger to struggling with money. I found the scene where Bri’s mom takes her to the food bank unnervingly familiar. Thomas understands the shame that accompanies needing help for something so basic. But it’s always better to ask for help when you need it than to try to suffer through without it.

On the Come Up and THUG are important novels for today’s America. I strongly recommend everyone with a teenager buy a copy and read it with them. It’s perfect for book clubs of any age group, start a discussion!

Also, I kept thinking that On the Come Up had a lot of similarities to Dear Evan Hansen. I would die to see a rap musical version of On the Come Up, someone please make that happen for me, thanks!

Update: the novel has been picked up for a movie version to be released in September of 2022. Hopefully it delivers!

5/5 microphones 🎤🎤🎤🎤🎤

For more inspirational YA about being yourself and overcoming odds check out Primer

Please consider using the following amazon affiliate link to purchase this book, it’s at no extra cost to you and would really help me out, thanks!

Buy it here: On the Come Up

I love comic books, nonfiction, and everything in between! Come discuss your favorites!

One thought on “On the Come Up, YA Novel Review