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On the Come Up
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- 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
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.