Now...in just a few short weeks, we will have the release of the highly anticipated second novel from this new voice of a generation, On The Come Up and it does not disappoint.
On The Come Up tells the story of 16-year-old Bri. She dreams of being one of the greatest underground rappers of all time. But Bri has quite a battle ahead of her. Living in a poor black neighbourhood; the daughter of a great street rapper who was murdered just before he hit it big , a mother recovering from drug-addiction; Bri is label as 'trouble' at school. She is fighting prejudice in the community, racism on a national scale, old-fashioned ideas within her own family and poverty. Her mother loses her job, there's no electric because the bill hasn't been paid, there's no food in the fridge... Bri pours all her frustration and anger into a rap about misunderstanding and stereotyping and it goes viral, but for all the wrong reasons. Bri now finds herself at the centre of a controversy, portrayed by the media as a menace and a thug. Now, on the edge of homelessness, Bri sees her success as the only thing that can hold her family together. She doing it for herself, for them and for the memory of her father. Bri doesn't just want to make it; she HAS to. And if that means becoming what they already say she is, so be it.
Moving and incisive, On The Come Up gives an indictment of current social systems, values, mores and attitudes. A story of freedom of speech, following your dreams and finding a way to rage against a system that will keep you down. A raw, poignant portrait of the lives lived by so many people in the world today, it causes you to think, really think. Pulling the reader in to the story immediately, it wraps you up, makes you part of the tale and refuses to let go. Bri is a dynamic character in a state of flux. Caught in a web of survival, she is struggling to stay exactly who she is and, in the end, emerges from that battle triumphant. But it is, truly, a hard battle. The surrounding characters give a complex, diverse cast, all of whom have their own agendas and idiosyncrasies. A fluid writing style gives the whole text an atmosphere that echoes its' subject; the language allows the story to unfold visually in the mind of the reader. You are there; gripped and enthralled in a very contemporary, very timely situation. We are speaking a lot about diversity and inclusiveness in literature now, and rightly so. It has been too long that stories concerning the wider spread of society and culture have been ignored,; swept aside. But it is not enough for a book to simply be diverse and inclusive; it has to be good and it has to tell a story worth telling. On The Come Up is that book; a must-read of the year. YA fiction at its' very best, it speaks with a genuine voice. This book is real.
ON THE COME UP
author: Angie Thomas
Walker Books (7 February 2019)