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

August Reading Review

Reading

As some of you may know, I love to read, and I don’t just say that lightly. I am one of those people who would rather read than watch TV unless the Kardashians are on then TV trumps reading, but that’s not the point. My New Year resolution was to read at least one book a month and so far I have read 12 books this year ultimately fulfilling the minimum of my resolution, and sparking a new challenge, read 3-4 books a month.

I have decided that I can’t let these wonderful books be known to only my mind and imagination so at the end of each month I will offer a quick review of the books I read that month and also give a glimpse into the books I plan to read in the following month. So, let’s get this thing started.

I started off this month reading one of the many books I was gifted for graduating college (oh yea I did that btw), anyways, I found out about this book from looking over President Obama’s summer reading list so I figured it had to be good since he recommended it. The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes gives a front row seat to the 8 years Obama was in office. Rhodes served as the President’s speechwriter and one of his top advisors on foreign policy. As someone who grew up during the 8 years Obama was in office mostly ignorant and oblivious to all that went on in the world politically, it gave me a great view of everything that Obama did while in office. I will say though, this was one of the more challenging books I’ve read in a while due to some of the mundane political topics that I just wasn’t fully interested in and slightly went over my head. I still highly recommend the book though, no matter your political views, it was interesting nonetheless and allowed me to see behind the scenes of some of the most important moments that shaped President Obama’s legacy.

After reading such a heavy book I decided to give myself a mental break and read a shorter and less complex book. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is an amazing true story about two people who are worlds apart but become friends through unlikely situations. It’s a story of faith, friendship, and acceptance. I read this book in TWO DAYS, it was that good. I could not put it down. It made me laugh and cry. If you are looking for a quick read that will fill your heart with all types of good feelings I strongly recommend that you give this book a try.

I capped off my August reading by diving into yet another nonfiction book, Long Walk to Freedom, the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. When I say that this book intimidated me, I mean it. Not only is this book a solid 625 pages, it encompasses the life of one of the most inspiring African leaders. Throughout my life, I have heard bits and pieces about Nelson Mandela, but I never really knew who he was or what exactly he did that made him so important. I can assure you that after reading this book all of my questions were answered. Mandela lived an incredible life that was mostly spent in prison or traveling South Africa “underground” in order to not be thrown back into prison. In his autobiography Mandela allows us to see first hand the struggles he went through and the challenges he faced in order to win the freedom of not only himself but for all others who looked like him. It is an incredible story and the last chapter or two of the book truly inspired me to always fight for what is right for the collective whole, not just myself.

I was only able to read three books this month, but two of the three challenged my reading stamina due to their impressive descriptiveness and fact-based sentences. In total, I read 1,291 pages this month and loved each and every second of it.

As I go into my September reading, I would love to hear suggestions of books I need to add to my reading list, I am not picky about genre or topic and would love to hear all of your suggestions! Be sure to drop a title or two in the comment section below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive updates on my reading endeavors and any other journey’s along the way.