On The Come Up by Angie Thomas (447 pages)
Overview: Bri is going to be a rapper... not like her father, legendary rapper, Lawless. Despite what everyone says, Bri's going to be a rapper all on her own. Unfortunately, she doesn't get the chance to influence her own narrative. When she releases her first song, "On The Come Up", it ignites a media firestorm. There's questions about whether it incites violence, and there's even a petition to get the song taken down. Meanwhile, Bri is dealing with the rival gang of her Aunt's coming after her because they also misunderstood the song. Bri has a dream, but there's plenty to stand in her way. Overall: 4.5
Characters: 5 Bri is happy to invite you into her world. She has best friends, her mom and brother, her grandparents, and the church ladies to deal with. The characters around her are rich and fully fleshed out, even if they're only in a couple scenes.
Bri is bold. She doesn't hold back, and, sometimes, because she's from the Garden, that makes her out to be something she's not. She also has to deal with plenty of racism at her arts school. She's sent to the office for the slightest eye roll or annoyed comment. When Bri gets assaulted by security at the security checkpoint, she starts to stand up for herself and come out of her shell.
Her friends Malik and Sonny are great supporters, but everything isn't always great. It's the same with Aunt Pooh who's like her older sister, and her mom, Jay. Jay struggled with drugs after the death of her father, and it's heartwarming and an awesome addition to see them mend their relationship now that she's been clean eight years.
Plot: 4 There's plenty to keep the story moving, but you also feel like you're living in Bri's entire life. We see her at home, at school, and in the gaps in between. Angie confronts the deep vibrations of gun violence on many levels as well as school security. It's horrifying that our schools have to have metal detectors like they're airport TSA. A major part of Bri's story hinges on the fact that schools have become policed like prisons.
The story also delves a little bit into the music business. Bri meets her dad's old manager, and he takes her under his wing. But that turns out to mean Bri becoming something she's not. She also gets a taste of the toxicity that put her father into a dangerous position between two gangs he didn't want to be a part of.
Writing: 5 Angie is an amazing writer! Her books totally suck you in. They are impactful and honest while also being humorous and heartwarming. Every time I read even a few pages, it would take me a few seconds to step out of Bri's head. I had a blast the entire book! Also, make sure you read through the Acknowledgements because they're awesome as well.
The Hate U Give:
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The Great Unknowable End: Review Here