Last Updated on November 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 850
On the Come Up is the 2019 sophomore novel of author Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give. While On the Come Up is set in the same neighborhood (Garden Heights) as The Hate U Give and some of the previous novel's events are mentioned, On the Come Up is a standalone novel, not a sequel.
The novel follows the story of narrator Bri Jackson, a sixteen-year-old girl growing up in a low-income, predominantly black neighborhood. Bri is an aspiring rapper who deals with many different experiences throughout the story, including her mother's addiction recovery, poverty, loss, incarceration of a family member, changing relationships, racism, sexism, success, and identity. The novel is divided into three parts.
Part 1: Old School
In this part, readers are introduced to Bri, her friends, and her family. Bri's mother, Jay, is a recovering drug addict who is in night school to become a social worker. Bri's father, who was a rapper, was killed in a shooting before the book began. Bri's older brother, Trey, earned his bachelor's degree but had to move back home due to a lack of job opportunities. Bri is also close to her mother's much younger sister, affectionately called Aunt Pooh. Readers also meet Bri's longtime best friends, Sonny and Malik, and learn that Bri has a crush on Malik.
Bri attends Midtown School of the Arts but is far from a star student. In the first chapter, she receives a call during school that she has been invited to perform at the Ring, a freestyle rap battle famous in her neighborhood. She attends the battle with Aunt Pooh, who acts as her "manager," and ends up winning and getting attention from Supreme, a manager who worked with her father when he was alive.
The next major event happens in chapter 4. Due to Bri's family's struggling financial situation, she sells candy at school to make extra pocket money. Because of this, she is harassed by the school security guards, who demand to search her bag. She refuses, and they shove her to the ground and handcuff her with plastic straps. This sets off a chain of events that drives much of the plot for the rest of the novel.
Later, Bri finds out her mother lost her job at the church. Despite her mother's warnings and Aunt Pooh's eagerness to be her manager, Bri shares her new song, "On the Come Up," with Supreme. At the end of part one, he assures her,
You about to blow up.
Part 2: Golden Age
This part contains the remaining rising action in the novel. Bri starts to make it big with her new song, but people begin assuming that she is a "hoodlum" or "thug" due to the references to violence in the lyrics. She receives both fans and haters from the internet and is unsure how to handle either. Bri also begins wearing her late father's chain, one of the few valuable items her family owns.
In this part, Bri's crush on Malik deepens and she becomes jealous of his new girlfriend, Shana. However, Bri and Malik kiss at the end of the section and realize that it is awkward. Bri also begins to realize that she really does have feelings for Curtis, a boy who rides her school bus.
Readers also learn more about...
(The entire section contains 850 words.)
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