On The Come Up – Angie Thomas
POC Representation, rapping competitions, young adult, Fiction.
Bri is going through some rough times and it shows in her school grades. She knows for sure she wants to be the greatest rapper of all time and go through her first rap battle successfully. In hopes of gaining attention for a record label so that she can provide a better living. She fights to get her voice heard and in the positive light and not be labeled as a hoodlum. Her first battle she kills the competition but roadblocks are thrown in her way and she must overcome them.
I had read one of Angie Thomas’s books before and I loved her unique style of writing. The dialogue is natural and doesn’t feel forced. I felt that this was really believable as it is believable in real life. Not only that but the characters she creates as well. I don’t typically listen to rap music but I really loved Bri’s rhyme and the rap songs she has made. There were some that absolutely felt like a burn to whomever she directed her anger at. Angie Thomas’s books always point out the inequality and the inadequate treatment of the African American community. She also points out that this doesn’t just affect the adult population but the younger population. The realities presented to them and the type of lives the parents want their children to have. I felt that Bri was losing that hope and desire, but rapping battles and competitions can bring more opportunities. School and education also can bring just as many opportunities. I felt mad at her but she does have points about the way the faculty treated her. I really enjoyed this novel and I saw that Concrete Rose is on the shelf and I look forward to reading that one as well in my near future. I highly recommend this novel and all of Angie Thomas’s books.
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Young adult, contemporary, fiction.
Starr lives in a poor black neighborhood and goes to a school in another neighborhood. She and her best friend, Khalid, are on their way home when they are pulled over by a cop. The white cop asks Khalid to get out of the car and moments later he is shot. Starr witnessed her best friend’s death and had a gun drawn on her. The next couple days, she hears his name and all the horrible names. Her boyfriend, Chris, and her friends at the high school don’t understand her world and she tries to tell them everything. Starr has a falling out with a friend who doesn’t quite understand that her words are hurtful especially at a time like this. During this time, Starr’s neighborhood has become a war zone, and no one is safe. The white cop has a sob story, and everyone seems to believe the white cop’s perspective. Starr stands up and tells her side of the story, her perspective of what happened to her best friend despite the consequences and dangers she will face.
I heard this book was on the challenged and YA (young adult) banned book list. I had to investigate and wonder why people have a problem with this novel. The main complaint is the violence and language. I don’t understand the violence and language complaint, but that did not distract from the narrative Angie Thomas was telling. She was telling a story of how many black teens and young adults’ lives are impacted daily in black poor communities. Also the adult’s who struggle as well because they have to work harder. Starr gives a perspective of how it feels to witness a best friend’s death and injustice of a system that was supposed to protect everyone but instead took the life of her best friend. The discrimination they are faced with and the straight up racism. Police violence is nothing new, this has always been here. This novel is a great insight of how the criminal justice system is racist and does not serve justice where it needs to be served. The systematic and institutionalized racism needs to end. Starr’s story is not some made up fantasy, this is a reality. I honestly think people are uncomfortable because of the truth and they want to censor the truth and realities. I do not think this book should have been banned, I think this needs to become apart of high school curriculum and be allowed to read by everyone. I love this book for the way it is, and I do not think this book deserves to be banned.