Review: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up
by Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: Feb 5. 2019
Genre: Young Adult

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.


On the Come Up is Brianna’s story of trying to find fame in the underworld rap community and make a name for herself. Her father was a big name rapper who was well-known in the community. She’s grown up with rap music in her blood, and has been itching to get in the ring and battle it out. This is her story on how she made a name for herself and the hurdles she had to overcome along the way.

I’m going to be really honest with you guys, this one just didn’t do it for me. I was blown away by The Hate U Give and it really made you sit down and think about things. However, this one just made me think that Bri was super naive and too stubborn for her own good. I didn’t connect with Bri at all. She did things that put herself in jeopardy, she went against sage advice, and she just didn’t seem to actually pay attention to the signs in front of her. She was so focused on becoming a famous rapper and making money that she had blinders on. Blinders that she should have known better than to have on. Rule number one, never flash money or things of high value unless you are willing to step up and defend it. Number two, don’t go popping off about stuff that you can’t backup. And if you feel like you need to hide something from those closest to you, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. There were just so many things that Bri did that just blew my mind. It was one thing after another with this girl and in the end I’m not quite sure she ever really understood all the things she’d done or learned any lessons from it all.

I think if Bri had had a bit more common sense and actually used her street smarts, she wouldn’t have had to go through all that she went through. Not only that, but she put loved ones into bad situations because of her stubbornness. I get that people can make mistakes, but coming from someone who lived in a not so great area where there were rivaling gangs in the area, shootings on a regular basis, and just so much crap going on that most of the time the cops wouldn’t stop to break stuff up, I just felt like Bri was incredibly stupid for the stuff she pulled. I would have never walked around with a diamond chain around my neck that was worth thousands of dollars and not expect people to be eyeing it with greed. I would have never made a statement saying that I was “strapped” and ready to do battle with various gangs in the area… and actually name drop the gang I was mocking. I mean, the things this girl did was just mind boggling. I get that her song, to which this book is named after, is a statement that this is how she’s viewed by society, but she should have known better than to say half the stuff she did.

Not only did I have a huge problem with the heroine in this story, but I felt like the author missed a lot of great opportunities with this one. Bri’s school clearly has two racist security guards. I thought for sure this was going to be the center of the story, but I felt like it was kind of a back-burner story that was meant to just keep The Hate U Give vibe alive. The issue never seemed to be fully resolved and kinda felt like it had been swept under the rug with other things going on in the forefront. I just felt like the story could have had a much more powerful message than it did and I was expecting something on the same level as the author’s previous book. So yeah, while I really enjoyed The Hate U Give and I thought it really sent a message, this one was just a huge letdown. I didn’t like the main character. I felt like she made a lot of poor choices that she should have known better than to do. Not to mention I felt that this was a missed opportunity to really make a statement. It just didn’t set itself apart like I had wanted it to.

6 Thoughts on “Review: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

  1. great review. i was surprised it was so long, but i love that you tell it like you feel it. 🙂
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. Sounds like she wasn’t too smart at times. I live in a bad neighborhood too and would never go out wearing expensive jewelry. You’re just asking for trouble if you do.

  3. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about The Hate You Give so I’m sorry to hear that this one was such a disappointment! Hopefully, your next read will be a better one!

  4. The reviews for this have been pretty mixed so I think I’m going to wait for her next book!

  5. I haven’t heard much on this book, sorry to hear it was such a disappointment especially in seeing how much you loved The Hate U Give.

  6. I’m sorry this didn’t work for you. I know a lot of people loved it. I’ve only seen the movie so far (THUG) but was curios about this one.

    I’m ok with making mistakes but repeatedly putting other people in harms way because of them might bother me.

    Karen @ For What It’s worth

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