CHRIS’S FEBRUARY BOOK PICK – ON THE COME UP

Need something new to read? Our Marketing Specialist, Chris, recommends NYT Bestselling Author Angie Thomas’s sophomore novel:

If anyone has had a conversation with me since March 2017, they know: I’m obsessed with The Hate U Give. I’m not the only one. Angie Thomas’s searing and thought-provoking debut, with 100 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list under its belt, has become a modern classic. The novel not only speaks to issues prevalent in our society today, but it and its heroine, Starr Carter, also connect with readers on a personal level. They certainly did with me.

 

So, how do you follow that up? Well, if you’re Angie Thomas, you write another instant classic, a story that packs the same amount of punch, while telling a completely new story from a fresh, new perspective.

 

Enter On the Come Up and Brianna “Bri” Jackson.

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Brianna is a rapper, an insanely talented lyricist whose rhymes seem to explode out of her, fueled by her life experiences. Her family is poor; her mother and her brother are trying their best to make ends meet. Her father, a great rapper in his own right, was killed in a gang-related incident when she was younger, right when he was about to hit it big.

 

When Bri is unfairly targeted at her fine arts high school, she responds by doing what she does best: she writes a killer track that attracts all kinds of attention. She needs a win right now. Her mother has unexpectedly lost her job and the bills are starting to pile up faster than her brother’s job can pay them off. This rap may be the win she’s been looking for.

 

There’s a problem, though: some of that attention is misguided. Some people have twisted her lyrics to create a persona that doesn’t accurately depict who Bri is. But, even worse, that persona is marketable. Leaning into the image that the public has created could be a surefire way to success, and Bri needs to put food on her family’s table.

 

In On the Come Up, Thomas returns to Garden Heights, the neighborhood that she introduced in The Hate U Give, fleshing out that setting even further. Bri lives fifteen minutes across town from Starr, but their worlds barely overlap. The events in THUG do influence some of the proceedings, a sign of just how much they’ve rocked the community. Some familiar characters and locations are referenced briefly, but Thomas has populated On the Come Up with a new cast of characters, different from those in THUG, but just as interesting and irresistible.

 

These characters, just like the ones in THUG, are lovingly drawn and feel so real you almost expect to look up from the novel and see them sitting directly across from you. Bri’s mother, Jay, may be struggling with finances and issues from her past, but she’ll crack you up with a one-liner. Her Aunt Pooh might seem to be all steely resolve and bravado, but insecurity always threatens to crack her tough exterior. And of course, there’s Bri herself: resilient, gifted, heartbreaking, and hilarious. Her first-person voice is vibrant and lively, and her interesting observations about the people and world around her keep you turning the pages.

 

THUG was about Starr Carter finding her voice to speak out against injustice. Bri needs no help finding her voice; she’s putting her thoughts flawlessly into rhyme in front of a crowd in the third chapter of the novel. On the Come Up is about what happens when Bri raises her voice and society turns it against her, casting her in a role that she did not create for herself. Thomas navigates this struggle with a beautiful blend of grit, humor, and hard-hitting truth, just as she did in her stunning debut. On the Come Up is a marvel.

 

Thomas is poised for a career shining a light on characters that, many times, are relegated to the margins. Starr and Bri encounter obstacles many young Black women face every day, and Thomas infuses them with authentic voices that are impossible to ignore. Both of their stories explore the suffering and the pain, but also the beauty and the triumph, in neighborhoods like Garden Heights, which tend to be misrepresented in popular media. Their stories are important and impactful and should be heard.

 

Starr has her megaphone. Now, Bri has her microphone. And, thankfully, Angie Thomas has her pen and paper (or computer and word processor). They all have something to say. Let’s listen up!

Find On the Come Up in-store or online here. Visit us in-store and use your coupon from the Campus Cash coupon book for 25% off one general book (exp. 5/31/2019)

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