Angie Thomas had a huge job ahead of her following the success of her debut novel, The Hate U Give. The critically-acclaimed work was transformed into a major motion picture, and helped to stir the conversation surrounding police brutality and racism once more. It was an incredible start to Thomas' career as an author, and earlier this month she returned with her second novel On The Come Up.
Set within the same universe, there are loose ties to THUG woven throughout this new book, but it stands entirely on its own as a fresh plot and something those new to Thomas' work would be able to jump right into.
Readers meet main character 16-year-old Brianna - who goes by Bri - and follow her journey through education, family struggles and an unwavering dream to become a runaway success in the world of hip-hop and rap. She's a talented teen who's consistently praised by those around her, but the one person she'd love to hear some feedback from - her father - was killed when she was much younger.
Thomas doesn't just tell us Bri is a talented rapper however; she proves it. We go through the motions with the rising star as she uses her surroundings and unique situations to build rhymes and take down opponents in a battleground known as 'The Ring'. Not only that, but we then see those lyrics written down on the page, and it's exciting as a reader and a fan of the genre to conjure up your own beat to Bri's words.
As we join Bri on her way to the top, we see her make decisions out of an impulse to provide for her family rather than for the good of her image, instantly making her relatable and a character you can root for.
There's also the realistic sub-plot of Bri's brother Trey struggling to find work, despite enjoying a college education. This is a great commentary on the capitalist Western world at work, and a reflection of the struggles many Americans and others across the globe have to deal with.
Despite the subject being harrowing at times, this is often a heartwarming piece that'll have you beaming from ear-to-ear thanks to Bri's internal musings and witty humour. Thomas has a flair for writing genuine characters with recognisable characteristics, allowing her readers to place themselves in the centre of the story and become one with the narrative.
In doing so, she ensures that the story is one you care about every step of the way. This is another triumph and, after the announcement came that it'll also be getting the movie treatment, I can't wait to see it adapted for the big screen.
On The Come Up by Angie Thomas is available now.
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