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On the Come Up

Written by Angie Thomas

Key Stage 4

LoveReading View on On the Come Up

Hip-hop, hope and black girl magic

Winner of the Books for Older Readers category of the Children's Book Award 2020 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2020 | February 2019 Book of the Month |

Under-your-skin powerful novel about a talented young black woman who refuses to be silenced.

Bri is a smart hip-hop writer from rough, tough Garden Heights, the same housing project that provided the setting for Thomas’s remarkable debut, The Hate U Give. Her underground rap legend dad was murdered twelve years ago, leading to her (now clean) mom seeking solace in drugs. Bri’s dad’s legacy means she has a hell of a lot of baggage when she performs at a big open mic event. While she chokes the first round after being goaded by her opponent in a scene that will have you desperately urging her on, Bri’s powerful lyrics and performance mark her out as something special. But as her hip-hop reputation is on the rise, so other aspects of her life take a downturn. There’s serious money trouble at home, and at school she’s unjustly suspended, the latter of which leads to her writing the track that further rockets her reputation, “On the Come Up”. But this brings further struggle. There’s the racism of black women being labeled “aggressive” for merely expressing their views. There’s a painful falling out with “tight since womb days” friend Malik. And there’s a cruel conflict between self-preservation (shutting up and putting up to avoid being wrongly locked up, or worse) in a racist society, and the heightened need to speak out precisely because of this situation.

Impeccably plotted, with a multiple storylines woven to a pulse-pounding conclusion, this is an astoundingly affecting novel that shines a light on the struggles of young black women, and celebrates freedom of speech and making noise about who you are, as seen through unforgettable Bri, a 100% authentic character whom readers will root for, cry for, yell out loud for, and grin for joy with.

Joanne Owen

On the Come Up Synopsis

The award-winning author of The Hate U Give returns with a powerful story about hip hop, freedom of speech - and fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you. Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri's got massive shoes to fill. But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it - she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

On the Come Up Reader Reviews

Some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel members were lucky enough to read and review Angie Thomas' debut novel, The Hate U Give. Click here to read their full reviews.

  • Humaira, age 18 - 'You’d better believe the hype for this book. The Hate U Give is everything...This book is going to be deemed to be a classic.'
  • Rose, age 17 - 'The Hate U Give is a modern, relevant young adult book...An inspiring book that showed that every life matters.'
  • Georgia Walters, age 16 - 'If you read one book this year, make it this one. It's unflinchingly powerful and brave. The narrative is compelling and unforgettable - this book will stay with me for a long time.'
  • Talia Jacobs, age 15 - 'The Hate U Give is such an interesting book with elements tackling racism, living with poverty, identity, family and school life. I absolutely loved it and really recommend it!'
  • Jenny Duffy, age 23 - 'Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a gripping and powerful read that I think should be essential reading for teenagers.'
  • Megan Abbott, age 18 - 'Compellingly beautiful.  I applaud Angie Thomas for this beautifully crafted young adult novel about what prejudice looks like in the 21st century.'
  • Izzy Read, age 16 - 'This is the book that YA has been waiting for...'
  • Abbie Bavister, age 14 - 'A powerful novel about a young girls fight for justice amongst deeply engrained prejudice.'
  • Rebekah Marsh, age 14 - 'The book touches on racism, love, family and friendship all in a completely amazing storyline with characters that provoke tears, laughter and so many more emotions.'
  • Khadijah Ahmed - 'The Hate U Give evokes the same feelings sparked from the documentaries and news articles about police brutality: anger, incredulity, heartbreak, despair. And yet, somehow, hope in the light at the end of the tunnel.'

On the Come Up Press Reviews

Praise for The Hate U Give;

A classic in the making. The Times

Places a spotlight on Black Lives Matter. Stylist

Passionate and uncompromising. The Observer

A must-read. The Pool

Outstanding. The Guardian

Powerful. Metro

Book Information

ISBN: 9781406372168
Publication date: 7th February 2019
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 304 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 4

About Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still lives in Jackson, Mississippi. A former teen rapper, she recently won a Walter Dean Myers Grant, awarded by the We Need Diverse Books campaign.  Follow Angie Thomas on Instagram. 

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