On the Come Up Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
2020 Audie Awards finalist - Young adult number one New York Times best seller · Seven starred reviews · Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book
Don't miss this audiobook, Audible's Young Adult Audiobook of the Year and an Audie Award finalist!
"For all the struggle in this book, Thomas rarely misses a step as a writer. Thomas continues to hold up that mirror with grace and confidence. We are lucky to have her, and lucky to know a girl like Bri." (The New York Times Book Review)
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.
But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral...for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it - she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.
Hear about more of life in Garden Heights from Angie Thomas in The Hate U Give and Concrete Rose.
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 43 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||February 05 2019|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #13,533 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#2 in Teen Fiction on Homelessness, Runaways & Poverty
#30 in Teen Fiction on Depression & Mental Health
#68 in Young Adult Fiction on Prejudice & Racism
Top reviews from Canada
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I highly recommend it for young adults/new adults and lovers of Coming of Age stories, even if the movie doesn't appeal to you. I was so impressed with the book, I looked up the trailer for the movie adaptation and EVERYTHING in the trailer is wrong except the character names. I was surprised and disappointed. So, even if you have to get it from the library, I suggest giving it a chance.
I easily connected with Thomas' writing style. It's powerful, engaging and authentic as she shows Bri and her family's struggles to make ends meet and deal with their complicated past. Through her dialogue, she reveals the bonds between the characters and adds humorous bits, delightful nerdy references and some solid banter.
I loved that Bri is so different compared to Starr (the main character of THUG). She is brash, headstrong, outspoken and occasionally makes poor choices but its through those choices, and their consequences, that we see Bri find out who she wants to be. She is flawed but passionate and once she focuses on what's important to her, she is a force to be reckoned with.
Angie Thomas need not worry about Sophomoric Writer Blues. On The Come Up is a wonderful, thought-provoking read about self-discovery and while many readers may not connect with Bri's hip hop world, Thomas has written a story about relatable issues (loss, friendship, the messiness of family and standing up for yourself) and allows her readers to take a look at the world through Bri's eyes and walk in her Timberlands for at least a few hundred pages.
I'm glad I took some time between reading The Hate U Give and On the Come Up. I wanted to let THUG sit with me for awhile before starting this book. I saw the reviews comparing the two stories and I didn't want to do that so I purposefully didn't read them back to back. And I'm glad I waited.
Let me start by saying I was so glad to be back in Angie Thomas' world for awhile. The way she tells a story sucks me in right from the first page. And while I loved Starr in THUG, I also loved Bri in OTCU just a much! But they're very different characters and I believe that was intentional. Angie wanted to tell a DIFFERENT story and, in many ways, a MUCH more painful story. Starr and Bri may have come from the same hood but they didn't live the same experiences. And I think that made a lot of people uncomfortable.
Most of the reviews I read about OTCU that didn't like this book as much as THUG mainly said there was "something about it" that didn't capture them in the same way as THUG. Ahem..."YO! That something was YOU sitting in your privilege!"
Bri's character and life was a LOT harder to read about. Starr comes from a home where both of her parents are present and loving. They have food on the table, own their home, have heat and lights. Starr never experienced the level of poverty that Bri lives in. Starr also never experienced the trauma of drug addiction within her own family. She wasn't personally and presently touched by gang violence in the same way that Bri lived with it daily. Starr was softer and easier to like, while Bri has a lot of hardness in her that's more difficult to swallow. Bri doesn't have the luxury of knowing there's going to be food on her table when she's hungry. Homelessness is a real threat to her. She lost her FATHER to gang violence. She lost her mother for several years to addiction and is terrified of losing her again. Her aunt Pooh, who is more like her sister, is a gang banger. Bri's desperate to help her family survive. Starr's family lives in the hood out of choice but can and do leave it at the end of THUG. Bri's family doesn't have that option. These two characters may live on the same street BUT they do NOT live the same life. Starr has "privilege" that Bri can only dream of and THAT, my friends, is what that "something" you couldn't quite put your finger on was that made you not like OTCU as much as THUG. There were things in Starr's life that most of us privileged readers could relate to, but let's be honest, nobody wants to relate to harshness that is Bri's life. And don't even get me started about Jayda, Bri's mother. That woman literally blew me away with her strength and determination. I get teary-eyed just thinking about her life and the sheer force of will it must take for her to get out of bed everyday and not give up. She's my new book-hero.
THUG was an absolutely brilliant book. But in my humble opinion, OTCU is pure GENIUS . And I'll ask the question once again: How can one writer be SO talented??? Angie Thomas, you are a GODDESS and I worship at your alter.
There were some elements of this story that reminded me of The Hate U Give. It is set in the same community, though the characters don’t know each other. They do mention the shooting that happened in THUG a year previously.
Bri goes viral with a rap song she wrote, but it gives people the wrong impression of her. It’s compared to an incident that’s she had in school where the security guards threw her down when she was entering the school. Bri has the conflict of being who she is, versus becoming famous for something she didn’t do.
Even though this book is similar to The Hate U Give, Bri and Starr come from different backgrounds. Starr comes from a middle class family, and she goes to a predominantly white private school. Bri’s father was shot when she was a child, and her mother is a former drug addict. Though they have different backgrounds, they come from the same community and fight for social justice.
I loved this book! I can’t wait to read what Angie writes next!
Top reviews from other countries
We meet teenager Bri who wants to follow in her dead father’s footsteps and become a famous rapper. Her home life isn’t the easiest with a mother who is a recovering drug addict who is struggling to make ends meet and an older brother who was A star student of which her teachers are expecting the same from her. There is a lot of pressure on her shoulders and I felt for this young girl who doesn’t want to upset anyone but also wants to follow her dreams.
I also felt for Jay, Bri’s mum in the story. She is trying to do the best for her kids but never seems to get a break or enough money to pay all the bills. It’s a toss up between no food or having heat and electric. It really hit home at how many families find themselves in this sort of situation. It was interesting to see how this family unit worked together to try and make ends meet.
The author touches on many topics within the story and it all makes for a very up to date read with issues that are present in the here and now. Whilst I think this story is more aimed at young adults, I think older adults can still very much appreciate this story of a young girls struggles to follow her dreams.
On the Come Up was a story that I had no problems getting caught up in. I did slightly worry that it might not be for me as rap music isn’t quite my scene but I really got into it and was routing for Bri to come out on top. It’s not just about following your dreams but about family and there was plenty of drama going on that had me worrying about Bri and certain members of her family. Whilst it didn’t have as big an impact on me as The Hate U Give, it’s a good read that kept me turning the pages.
So let's start with a spoiler-free overview. Teenage Bri (pronounced 'Bree' and short for Brianna) is an aspiring rapper. Her family is falling on hard times, and her rapping success may be the only way forward. On the Come Up follows Bri's story as she navigates prejudice, hip-hop, relationships and dreams.
What I really liked about this was the richness of culture that continued from The Hate U Give. Garden Heights feels like a real place, and the characters are completely believable. In this novel, the cast of characters was more diverse, with more LGBTQ+ representation, which I appreciated... in theory (more on this later). Also, had this book been written by a different author, the hip-hop included could have been really jarring – not that I know anything whatsoever about hip-hop. However, Thomas has experience in this area and it worked perfectly. And yes, it is certainly appropriate for hip-hop novices like myself. Oh, and one last thing: as a geek myself I did smile a lot at the Star Wars references, though I can see how they'd be annoying (and I really need to see Black Panther! Now!).
Okay, now for the negatives... To be entirely honest, I felt the plot was a bit non-existent. It didn't seem to have much in terms of structure, and as I was reading I felt myself thinking 'ohh, this was written so this would happen, and then this could happen'. Basically, I wasn't immersed in the plot so it felt a bit orchestrated.
SPOILERS FROM NOW
Sonny's plot line! Argh! I was really on board with this, with the reference to reading Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli - which is great, by the way - but it spiralled until it felt like Thomas had included a sub-plot that was basically Simon Vs. but really not as good. I felt like Albertalli practically deserved crediting for it. (I know Thomas and Albertalli are friends, but even so.) Sonny and Miles deserved better... they're kinda cute together as well?? It was really obvious that Miles was Rapid, but that's not really the point. So I didn't like that rep. And what about Aunt Pooh? I mean, can you really write a book with so much emphasis on discrimination and not explore the queer black woman's story even a little? I swear her girlfriend just vanished with a couple of slapdash excuses. Honestly, most of the LGBTQ+ rep in this seemed like it was thrown in 'because I'm so diverse!'. That was super annoying.
Talking of relationships, I honestly did feel a bit 'Argh!' about Bri's romantic plot, too. I read another review which said it got in the way a bit, and I have to agree. Malik himself seemed a bit bland, come to think of it, actually. We never really understood what made him so great, which did make Bri/Curtis very obvious.
And Aunt Pooh again! I really, really liked her so I hate to say this... but the whole going to prison plot did come across as a bit unnecessary for the story? Like, what was the point of including it? I'm up for debate on this, though.
Okay, last thing. The ending. Would Bri's grandparents really have had such a speedy change of heart? What on earth brought that on? That seemed extremely out of character. Gah.
So yeah. I felt a bit let down by On the Come Up, sadly. I loved the setting, I liked Bri, I liked her family (though it wasn't anything like the loveable awesomeness of Starr's family in The Hate U Give), I liked the hip-hop and learning about something I had no clue about before. I just didn't like some of the other stuff at all. If you read this after The Hate U Give, I would warn you that you may be disappointed, though, as I said, comparison is a little unfair. But then again, it's still worth a read, probably. Yeah, it swears, and yeah, there is stuff about drugs and gangs, but seriously, that's life for some people, so please don't not read because of that. I'd say it's suitable 12+ if you're a relatively mature reader.
Oh, and like the true geek I am, I'm ending with a Hamilton quote to sum up my thoughts: you could've done so much more if you only had time...
Just proves when the odds are against you, sticking at what you believe in will take you very far.