Tuesday, 12 February 2019

A Review of On The Come Up

On the Come Up is the second novel by Angie Thomas, the author of The Hate U Give. Brianna Jackson is the daughter of a hip-hop artist killed before he made it big. She wants to make it on her own, but his shadow hangs over her every time she performs. With her Mom and brother in financial trouble, Bri sees rap as her way out.

Second novels are often full of pressure, particularly when coming after a book that was as hyped as The Hate U Give. I sometimes feel like books that get delayed, like this one did, aren't going well to being with, so an author just slaps an ending on the book to get it over with. But this book is the one which really defies both trends. You can really feel where Thomas has applied everything she's learnt over the past two years to this lovingly crafted book, and where they delay may well have lead a better story because of it.

In my eyes, this book is a masterpiece in showing, not telling. You can't rely on what you're told in this book - for example, Bri is often labelled as aggressive. But there's nowhere that I can point where I'd call her aggressive. She's impulsive, reckless and always speaks her mind. The fact of the matter is, that if a white boy called people out for the same things she does, he would be recommended for the debate team and receiving advice on a career in politics.

I also find it is hard to show a character with performing skills in books. You need to be told that someone is good at singing, for example. But rap is as much about the rhymes as the rhythms. It's poetry, and poetry can find a home on page. We see all of Bri's thought processes while she writes her lyrics, and I found myself saying her lyrics out loud under my breath to hear them with a beat and make me feel like I was there. Thomas shows us her skills.

Parents seem to be the glue which holds Thomas's books together. In this one, Bri's Mom Jay is a recovering heroin addict who would do anything for her children. She stands up for herself and for them and will make you cheer along with her. Bri's father Law, although we never meet him, is also influential on the plot. Bri is trying to get away from his shadow, but she can't deny that he's more present in her life than she'd like to admit.

My experience with rap is limited - it's mostly Hamilton, and what they play on the radio. But Thomas's books have inspired me to seek it out more!

Thomas's books should be required reading. Well, not required reading as I know the very concept can put people off, but people all over the world from all walks of life need to read these books. Americans should read them, of course, but it's also important for us from other countries to keep ourselves informed of life of people abroad. Especially in a country like America, which does in many ways influence the rest of the world.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Roaming through Rome, Day 7&8 - 29/12/18&30/12/18 - A Quiet Day and the Flight Home

I'm combining two days into one again, since after the Vatican we both wanted a bit more relaxed. There were a few small places I still wanted to check out, so I spent one day using the rest of my underground pass to get around. There was also a last few souvenirs and of course, food to eat!

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Roaming through Rome, Day 6 - 28/12/18 - Vatican City and Eataly

Today, we went to see the Vatican. It is one of those things in Rome that you can't miss, but I found it too crowded. It was hard to find space to take a picture of some things. After that, I went to Eataly, another place in Rome I had read about online and wanted to check out!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Roaming Through Rome, Day 5 - 27/12/18 - Jewish Museum of Rome and the Cat Sanctuary of Rome

Today, we went around Rome's Jewish Museum. This was something I wanted to see, as I feel that it is vital to learn about Jewish historical events to stop them from being repeated. The Jewish Quarter is also one of the most architecturally interesting of Rome. I also stumbled on a cat sanctuary of Rome, and found myself looking for books.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Roaming Through Rome, Day 3&4 - 25/12/18&26/12/18 - Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain

As today was Christmas Day and Dad and I weren't sure what places would be open, we decided to walk to some of the sights we could reach on foot. This meant we made it to the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, saw the outside of the Pantheon, and ate much gelato.

Roaming through Rome, Day 2 - 24/12/18 - Bus Tour Through Rome

Today was officially Christmas Eve. It felt different, but still had a definite air of Christmas about it. Today, we paid for a bus tour of Rome. These have never been my favourite way to see a city, but they can be good for getting to grips with a city for the first time! I also had my first Italian pizza, and a look at the Spanish Steps at night!

Roaming through Rome, Day 1 - 23/12/18 - Flights, Hotel and the Local Area

Over Christmas, I ended up going to Rome! With my job, I have to take some of my holiday time over Christmas. I wound up thinking to myself, why not go on holiday during that period? But I didn't want to leave Dad on his own over Christmas. So then I thought, why don't I invite him along as his Christmas present? Christmas last year wasn't the best time of year for us, so the best thing to do is to do something completely different.