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On the come up
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2019
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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Thomas follows up her blockbuster, The Hate U Give (2017), with a sophomore novel that's just as explosive. On the Come Up tells the story of talented Bri, daughter of a deceased underground rapper, who's pursuing her own rap career. Bri is more than her dreams of making it out of the hood and reaching rap stardom; she is a girl who loves her family and friends fiercely. Bri's chance at fame comes after a rap battle in which the song she pens garners massive attention. When Bri's mother loses her job, Bri's rap ambitions become more crucial than ever. They could be her and her family's ticket to a better life unthreatened by poverty. Bri is a refreshingly realistic character with trials and triumphs, strengths and flaws. She's also a teen with a traumatic past who is still going through things in the present. She still, however, manages to find the beauty and joy in life despite her tribulations, and this is where On the Come Up truly shines in its exploration of Bri's resilience, determination, and pursuit of her dreams. ?In this splendid novel, showing many facets of the Black identity and the Black experience, including both the highs and the lows of middle-class and poor Black families, Thomas gives readers another dynamic protagonist to root for. High-Demand Backstory: Thomas' debut, The Hate U Give, might ring a bell? She had a long-term stay on the New York Times best-seller list for her first novel, and the hype for her second is damn near deafening. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Thomas's highly anticipated follow up to The Hate U Give returns to Garden Heights, but her new protagonist, 16-year-old Brianna Jackson, faces different challenges than the previous novel's Starr Carter. Bri's mother, Jayda, a recovering crack addict, has lost her job. The rent is late, the heat has been shut off, and Jayda must choose between staying in college and feeding her kids, because welfare benefits don't include food stamps for unemployed students. Bri attends an arts high school, and she dreams of making it big rapping—a talent she inherited from her father, a neighborhood legend who was shot to death when Bri was four. She begins to gain notice in the local music scene, but her success draws the unwanted attention of the gang suspected of killing her father. At the same time, an incident at school connects her with activists. Bri's artful rhymes convey her fears, frustrations, determination to challenge societal stereotypes, and growing awareness of her own talents. As in The Hate U Give, Thomas introduces readers to an unforgettable cast of characters who seek to thrive in close-knit neighborhoods that are also shaped by violence and systemic racism. Bri is a fully realized character who is both sympathetic and, occasionally, maddeningly impulsive, and the well-crafted dialogue, with some laugh-out-loud shade throwing, propels the dramatic plot. Ages 14-up. (Feb.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up–Aspiring rapper Bri records "On the Come Up" to protest the racial profiling and assault she endured at the hands of white security guards at her high school. The song goes viral, and Bri seizes the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of her late father and lift her family out of poverty, but her loved ones worry, especially when some listeners paint her as an angry black girl inciting violence. Tension mounts as Bri's mother loses her job, Bri's relationship with her beloved aunt and musical mentor splinters, and a new manager dangles the prospect of fame and wealth—at a price. Set in the same neighborhood as Thomas's electrifying The Hate U Give, this visceral novel makes cogent observations about the cycle of poverty and the inescapable effects of systemic racism. Though the book never sands over the rough realities of Garden Heights, such as gang warfare, it imbues its many characters with warmth and depth. While acknowledging that society is quick to slap labels onto black teens, the author allows her heroine to stumble and fall before finding her footing and her voice. VERDICT Thomas once again fearlessly speaks truth to power; a compelling coming-of-age story for all teens.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Annotations

A follow-up to the award-winning The Hate U Give finds an ambitious young rapper pouring her frustrations into a first song only to find herself at the center of a viral controversy that forces her to become the menace that her public reputation has portrayed her to be. 500,000 first printing. Simultaneous Large Print and eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)

#1 New York Times bestseller · Seven starred reviews · Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book

&;For all the struggle in this book, Thomas rarely misses a step as a writer. Thomas continues to hold up that mirror with grace and confidence. We are lucky to have her, and lucky to know a girl like Bri.&;&;The New York Times Book Review

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri&;s got massive shoes to fill.

But it&;s hard to get your come up when you&;re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons.

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn&;t just want to make it&;she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.  

Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn&;t always free.

- (HARPERCOLL)

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