Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give was hands down one of my favorite books that I read in 2018. So, when her second novel, One The Come Up, was one of the options for this month’s selection, I knew that I had to go with that.
The novel is about 16 year old Brianna, “Bri” Jackson who has dreams to become a rapper. Bri is the daughter of an underground rap legend, and inherited his talents. We are introduced to her as she heads to a rap battle — one that shows off her massive talent.
After her win, Bri records her first song, On The Come Up. The song soon becomes viral, which then puts Bri on the news — but not for the reasons that she hoped. Soon enough, Bri has to decide what is really important.
Meanwhile, struggles await her at home. Her brother Trey, a college graduate, is struggling to find a job and works at a pizza shop to help support their family. Her mom, Jay, is a former drug addict that is struggling to find work after losing her job — leading them down a rabbit hole of poverty and struggle.
I’m going to be honest — I absolutely loved this book. Angie Thomas has a talent of creating genuine characters, which makes it enjoyable to read. You see this in their dialogues with each other, their intra personal relationships and the way they perceive the world. Furthermore, in this novel, you see it more in the musical references. From Notorious B. I. G to NAS, this novel is full of them. I liked it because it gave the reader an insider’s look at how the hip hop world works. That is something that I thought really worked for this novel.
Furthermore, I also loved the subplots of all of the relationships with the characters — whether it may be with Bri and her aunt, Bri and her friends, and Bri with her brother. There is so much to be explored here, including a platonic friendship that has a one-sided crush, and how she was witnessing her aunt fall into the trap of an illegal lifestyle.
However, what I also liked seeing was Bri’s relationship with her mom, Jay. Bri’s mom is a former drug addict, her addiction being the result of dealing with the pain of her late father. I feel like over the course of the novel that we witness their bond growing stronger — especially as they experience trials and hardships.
In addition, I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between Aunt Pooh and Bri. Aunt Pooh was one of the few that truly indulged Bri and her dream to become a rapper. She fueled her with the music that has become her influences. She bought her to her first battle and was named her manager. This relationship is one of the key in the book as well, and something I liked.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent novel and a great successor to The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas is the kind of author that helps you think about the issues in a way that you can relate. And, in this novel, it shows. Therefore, this novel is definitely one to read for all of you young adult readers out there.