On the Come Up
By Amanda Nojadera,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Teen challenges stereotypes with hip-hop in heartfelt tale.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teens will learn about the racism and double standards that young black people face in America. There are also plenty of lessons for teens about news and media literacy.
Courage, communication, perseverance, and self-control are important themes. Fight for your dreams. Take ownership of your actions and decisions. Think before you post online.
Positive Role Models
Bri is talented, passionate, and determined to succeed. She can sometimes be hard-headed and stubborn, but she speaks her mind and uses music to express herself. Bri's mom and brother encourage her to focus on school and getting into college. Sonny and Malik are loyal friends.
Violence & Scariness
Bri's dad was murdered by a rival gang member when she was a kid. A character is slammed to the ground by high school security guards. Two characters are held at gunpoint. Gang rivalries and retaliations are mentioned. A boy is punched by an adult. Some think that the violent lyrics of Bri's song are "anti-police" and could have inspired kids at her high school to start a riot.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Couples make out. A father wants his son to pretend he's straight.
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Strong language includes variations of "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "bitch," "damn," "bastard," and the "N" word.
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Products & Purchases
Bri's family struggles financially, especially after her mom loses her job. She focuses on scoring a record deal to support her family. A pair of Timberlands is a status symbol. Characters discuss food stamps and go to food banks. Pop culture mentions include Black Panther, Forrest Gump, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and more. Several hip-hop artists are mentioned such as Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character is a former drug addict and another is a drug dealer. Mentions of weed, cocaine, cigarettes, and Hennesy. Characters are arrested during a drug bust.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give) is a heartfelt and surprisingly humorous coming-of-age novel about 16-year-old aspiring rapper Brianna, whose first song goes viral for the wrong reasons. It's set in the same fictional Garden Heights neighborhood of The Hate U Give, but Bri is totally different from that story's Starr. Although there are tough topics such as racism, gang violence, abandonment, and poverty, there are plenty of positive messages for teens about communication, courage, perseverance, and self-control. A character is slammed to the ground by high school security guards. Teens are held at gunpoint by a gang member. One character is a former drug addict and another is a drug dealer. There are mentions of weed, cocaine, cigarettes, and Hennessey. Strong language includes several uses and variations of "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "bitch," "damn," "bastard," and the "N" word.
Where to Read
Based on 5 parent reviews
ayyy i believe in angie
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What's the Story?
Following in her father's hip-hop footsteps, 16-year-old Bri Jackson knows she wants to be one of the great rappers of all time and that music could be the answer to her family's money problems. But she didn't know she'd be ON THE COME UP when her first song goes viral for the wrong reasons. Bri quickly learns that fame comes with its own price when the media misinterprets her message and starts to spin everything out of control. Can she find a way to pursue her dream and support her family without ruining her reputation?
Is It Any Good?
Angie Thomas' heartfelt and surprisingly humorous coming-of-age novel highlights the importance of family, friendship, and fighting for your dreams, making it a must-read for teens. Hip-hop fans will recognize the legendary artists mentioned throughout the book and will appreciate how Bri uses her passion and knowledge of the genre to challenge stereotypes with her poetic lyrics. Bri isn't afraid to speak her mind, and it's frustrating how many misinterpret her message or only see her as a "hoodlum," but it reflects the double standards she faces as a young black woman in America. However, teens will ultimately be inspired by Bri's determination to tell her story on her own terms and understand that On the Come Up is a tale of courage, perseverance, and empowerment.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the heavy themes of On the Come Up. Is it important for teens to read Bri's story? Why or why not? How does the book deal with racism, violence, abandonment, and poverty? How do these issues affect the characters?
What do you think about the way Bri is portrayed by the media after her song goes viral? How does social media affect news -- and vice versa?
How do the characters demonstrate communication, courage, perseverance, and self-control? Why are these important character strengths?
- Author: Angie Thomas
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Music and Sing-Along
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: February 5, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 464
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 21, 2019
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Read
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