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Is “On The Come Up” Better Than “The Hate U Give”? TSL Review

On the Come Up Synopsis:

Bri was basically rapping before she could walk. Since foreva, she’s had dreams of being on stage, crowds cheering her name, rappin her songs in the crowd, feeling on top of the world. But she’s got major problems, too, like trying to survive her hood and trying to prove herself to boys who don’t think a girl can make it. Can she? Will she prove them all wrong? On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas, is the story of Bri making her claim in the rap world, but also growing up as a teenage girl, falling in love, and trying to find her footing in a dangerous world.


There is no one like Bri. She has the coldest bars with a fierce attitude to back it up. We never get to read about Black girls with big mouths and I loved hers. It was so cool to see a Black girl speak her mind (even when she shouldn’t) and to stand up for herself. I went into this novel wondering how any character Thomas writes could ever compete with Starr from The Hate U Give, but for real, Bri definitely measures up! On the Come Up is also about how hard Black and brown kids have it in schools. Teachers, security guards, and even the principal treat us like straight up thugs, which makes it hard to feel at home in school. The difference gets real when we get sent to the office just for rolling our eyes, while other (White) kids are allowed to get away with so much more.

I was happy On the Come Up talked about how rough it can be to be a Black student, because I’m fed up with teachers treating Black kids like they’re destined to go nowhere. It’s not okay and Bri doesn’t stand for it either. My favorite part of the novel was her struggle to be respected in school. It was real and spoke for so many dark skinned kids in America.

What I Dug Most About On the Come Up

  • A loud Black girl, doin her thing on the mic
  • Bri’s friend group – They supported each other, but argued a lot about race politics.
  • Aunt Pooh – Bri’s drug dealing, lesbian, protective aunt. Her character gave me loads to think about. Plus, she was HILARIOUS.
  • It talked about kids joining gangs, dealing drugs, and growing up in a rough neighborhood.

What I Didn’t Dig About On the Come Up

  • The ENDING! It felt like it came out of nowhere and it seemed rushed. I wanted more closure; The Hate U Give did such a better job of wrapping up the topics discussed and in letting us know what happened to the characters we had gotten to know and love.
  • Bri made some messed up choices in the book, which is okay and makes her human, BUT I wanted more discussion around those choices and how she felt about them after the fact

I didn’t love this book as much as The Hate U Give, but still, this book is dope. Bri wasn’t perfect and I love that about her. She definitely was hurting a lot in this book and her pain showed through her actions. I liked how she pushed back against racism and sexism. It was inspiring and super brave! Plus, the writing rocked, and there’s so much witty back-and-forth between the characters. You gotta read this one. Don’t miss out!

*Rating: 4 Stars out of 5


By Jesse E

YouTube: Bowties & Books


Written by TrueStar Staff

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