Book Spotlight: On the Come Up

Reading

Every once in a while, I read a book that inspires me, makes me think, or really just captivates me through the entire story. Most of the time when I come across one of these books  I hide away in my room and binge read, only coming up for air to eat and use the bathroom. All other daily tasks are put on hold until the book is finished.

Angie Thomas’ On The Come Up (OTCU) was that book for me this past Sunday. I managed to read the ENTIRE book in one day. Now, I will say, the last time I read an entire book in one day was also the work of Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give (THUG). Now, this post will be about OTCU, but I also want to point out the importance of both books.

OTCU follows the life of Bri, a teenager trying to find her place in the world while also struggling to help her family keep their lights on. She can write, she can rap, her dad was a famous underground rapper, so she sets out to make a name for her self too, thinking this will be her big break to help her family finally “make it.” But what Bri doesn’t calculate into her plan is the media and her image. She doesn’t plan for people to call her ghetto and ratchet. She doesn’t plan to be labeled a hoodlum and a threat to society for sticking up for herself. She just wants to make it by any means necessary.

Throughout the book, we see everything through Bri’s eyes and we are able to see what she’s trying to tell the world, but we also see how the world isn’t attempting to listen to what she has to say. Instead, we see how they are quick to make judgments and place her into the “ghetto black girl” stereotype. But enough of all the summarizing, it’s time to move on to the fun part, if you want to know more, READ THE BOOK!

One of the main components I love about Thomas’ books is the way she writes them. Yes, I know that may seem like a well “duh Jasmine” statement, but it’s rare to find a writer who can paint vivid pictures and transport the reader into the world of the book. From the moment I started reading the book, I was no longer sitting on my bed, I was walking around “the Garden” with Bri, I was going to school with Bri, I was on stage with Bri. It’s an incredible feeling to be so entranced by words on a page that you lose the sense of time and reality.

The other main reason I love OTCU and THUG are for their significance in black culture. To have a black, female author write two books that deal with issues the black community is dealing with right now is huge. From police brutality to gang influence in the community, to overcoming poverty and addiction, to racism and beyond, Angie Thomas has created books that resonate with the struggles of POC today.

These books aren’t just important for POC though, everyone should read these. If they make you uncomfortable good, they need to. Let these books open up discussions you’re afraid to have. Talk about the issues in the book. Listen to what people have to say. It might shock you to learn how people have connected or learned from these stories.

I would like to end this by saying thank you to Ms. Angie Thomas. I know you might not ever see this post, and I know that our paths may never cross, but I just want to say thank you. Thank you for lighting the flame in my soul to get back out and write again. Thank you for using your platform to speak on issues most people are afraid to speak on. Thank you for inspiring me to finally tell my story. To quote Bri, “you can’t stop me nope, nope.”


“Your voices matter, your dreams matter, your lives matter. Be the roses that grow in the concrete. “

Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

January Reading Review

Reading

As I stated in my New Years goal blog, I am aiming to read 52 books this year. In order to reach this goal, I need to read at least one book every week. I’ve started the year off on a great foot! I read FIVE books this month. I’ll give a quick summary of the books and my opinion on if they’re worth reading.


“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” 

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

I started the year off by finally reading a book my therapist recommended to me years ago, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I have tried reading this book on numerous occasions and never really made it past the first chapter because I would find a different “more exciting” book to read. So, I told myself that no matter how long it took, I was going to read the entire book before I started anything else and let me tell you what, I wish I would have sucked it up and read it sooner. I totally get why my therapist told me to read this book, there were so many great passages about letting go of what people think of you and about learning how to properly love yourself. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with perfectionism and negative self-talk.

The next book I read has been a favorite of mine ever since I read it back in high school (thank you Mrs. Johnson and APLAC,) Truman Copte’s In Cold Blood captured me back in 10th grade for its raw sense of adventure and crime. I wanted to reread the book without the stress of it being “homework” to see if I  was able to gather different feelings for it. I’m still amazed at how even though I know the characters were awful humans, I couldn’t help but connect with them and at times feeling sympathetic for them. If you like true crime novels, this book is a MUST read!

I decided my next book should be on the lighter side of things to help keep my reading pallet balanced, so I decided to finally read The Memory Keeper’s Daugther by Kim Edwards. I had tried reading this book multiple times over the past year but always set it aside for some other book that I thought was more interesting. It didn’t help that the story started off slow, but once it got going I couldn’t put it down. I’m not sure how to summarize the story without giving too much away, so I encourage you to check it out for yourself. It’s a feel-good story that makes you angry and sad and happy all at once. If you are looking for a light read that doesn’t challenge your mind too much, this is the book for you.

If you haven’t heard of Educated by Tara Westover, you are truly missing out. Educated has made it on many of the top reading lists, including President Obama’s. I have been dying to read this book since it came out, but like all things, I kept pushing it aside and life got in the way. The book is about Westover’s family and the struggles she faced to educate herself. This book left me feeling empowered and reminded me that if I really put my mind to it, nothing and no one can stop me from reaching my dreams and living my life to it’s fullest. 10 for 10 recommend you add this book to the top of your list!

I decided to get an early start on my Black History Month reading list and finished this month off with Incident in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Jacobs recounted the horrors of her life as a slave, and her never-ending mission to earn her and her children’s “freedom.” Like any story from this time period, it’s not really a happy one, but the strength of slave women is always inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in African American History.

Well, I was able to reach my goal of reading five books this month! My goal for February is to read at least four books, all of which will have some tie to African American history. As always, if you have any recommendations on books you think I should read, please leave them in the comment section and I will add them to my never-ending reading list!

Entering A New Season

Mental Health

Over the past year, I have taken a serious step back and reflected on my life, whether that be the people I associate with, the food I consume, or the ways in which I spend my free time. I have taken a moment to sit back and really reflect on what is important to me and how things affect my mental and physical health. Since being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Perfectionism disorders, I have really focused on my environment and what my triggers are along with what makes me feel good.

A lot of my stress this past year came from graduating college and then the ever daunting “next step.” During the month and a half after graduation, I stayed in Conway and was determined to find a job in Little Rock. Moving home was not an option. While I was looking for a job, I continued working at the daycare and basically had a full-time job there. I applied for jobs, I went on interviews, I did the things I was “supposed” to do after graduating.

Then, one day I snapped. I realized that I was miserable living in Conway. I had been on many interviews with no callbacks and the opportunities in Central Arkansas seemed to be fading from sight. As much as I loved seeing the kids at the daycare, I knew that I had bigger goals and dreams I wanted to achieve, and as much as I hated to admit it, I needed to move home. So, within the next two weeks, I began saying my goodbyes to my “babies” at the daycare, I packed my apartment up and said goodbye to the friends I had made in my four years down there.

From the moment I made the call to my mom telling her I wanted to move back home, a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt like I was finally moving in the right direction. Once I got home things just kept getting better, family friends kept telling me about connections they had and thousands of emails were sent out. I had a lunch meeting with my old boss, turned mentor, Allyson, and she straight up told me that I looked like I had lost my spark. She gave me a pep talk about not getting discouraged and reminded me about how badass I was and within I think 2-3 weeks of that conversation, I landed a job.

I am now a Client Engagement Representative for Hugg & Hall Equipment Company. I help manage the digital marketing efforts of the company along with my team. It’s been a great stepping stone into the real world, and I can’t wait to share more with you guys!

What season of life are you in? I’d love to hear how you all have handled moving into new seasons and the challenges and blessings that came with it. Feel free to leave a comment under this post, or reach out through my contact page!JJ - Imperfection