Few first novelists have the kind of success Angie Thomas saw with “The Hate U Give,” which has spent 100 weeks on the Times Best-Seller list and been made into an equally acclaimed movie. Perhaps even fewer write a second novel that gets as many advance raves as Thomas’s “On the Come Up,” which will be published this month. It’s set in the same fictional community, Garden Heights, as “The Hate U Give,” but Thomas turns her attention away from Starr (the protagonist in her first novel) to the world of hip-hop, and Brianna, a talented teenager who lives and breathes it. I asked her to talk about how the book came into being. These are excerpts from our conversation.
When did you start writing “On the Come Up”?
Even before I wrote “The Hate U Give,” I knew I wanted to write a novel that paid homage to hip-hop. For me, as a teenager, hip-hop was how I saw myself when I didn’t see myself in books. And I could never seem to find books that gave hip-hop its due. A lot of times in Young Adult books, hip-hop is only used when the characters are at parties — otherwise they’re more into indie rock. But for so many kids, hip-hop is their music, hip-hop is their culture, it speaks to them when other things don’t. I mean, white suburban kids are the biggest consumers of hip-hop.
[Read our review of “On the Come Up.”]
I had this character, Bri, and I knew she had to be a rapper, but that’s all. I got the idea for the plot after “The Hate U Give,” when I began to deal with challenges to the novel, people trying to censor it. A police union in South Carolina spoke out against the book being on a summer reading list. The union was concerned that it created anti-police sentiments. And it was challenged by some school districts, because of the language. Of course, if they paid attention to what their students were saying in the hallways they would hear many more f-bombs than I could ever write. I knew it wasn’t really about the language, it was the subject matter.
So when I was dealing with my own censorship, I thought of the rappers who had meant so much to me, like Tupac, Biggie, Lauryn Hill and Nas, and how they went through it. I was raised knowing that when hip-hop spoke up, it was always challenged. So often when rappers speak, they’re criticized for how they do it, as opposed to what they actually say.
I was looking to them for inspiration about the censorship I was facing, just as I was trying to write a book about hip-hop. My mantra is: I want to write the way rappers write. They can make us laugh, they can make us cry, they can make us uncomfortable, they can make us feel empowered. When they use hip-hop well, they’re being authentic and true to themselves. When you write for teenagers, they know phoniness a mile away. I have to be real with them even if it makes other adults uncomfortable.
As you wrote, did you feel the weight of the success of “The Hate U Give”?
Everyone says the second book is the hardest and I can attest to that. I felt like I had a thousand eyes looking over my shoulder with every line I wrote, saying “Well, Starr wouldn’t say that.” I had to get into the mind-set of writing it for myself, not for readers of “The Hate U Give.” At times I even felt resentful of that book. But I’m happy it was a struggle because I learned to listen to my own voice inside and write for myself first.
How did you set about creating the character of Brianna, who is very different from Starr?
It was always going to be a whole different book from “The Hate U Give,” but when I did think about Bri in relationship to Starr, it was with the idea of going in the exact opposite direction. People tell me all the time, “I love that Starr has such a stable and functional family.” Well, Bri’s family is not as stable and functional. Who’s to say a young lady with a family like that doesn’t deserve to have her story told? People tell me, “I love how Starr handles herself.” Well, here’s a young lady who speaks from her heart and speaks without thinking.
This is another story set in Garden Heights, but I do not want anyone to assume their lives are the same. I hope some readers walk away learning that even black kids from the same place are totally different.
I thought it was brave of you to give Bri an “anger management issue,” given the stereotypes about “angry black women” out there.
For sure, black girls get that “angry black girl” stereotype put on them, and it doesn’t allow them to be angry. It was important to me to let her have her anger and own it — there’s nothing wrong with anger, and I wanted to show that being angry doesn’t have to mean being irrational. Men get to be angry all the time.
Did becoming involved with student activism after “The Hate U Give” change your approach to fiction writing?
To me it all comes down to writing stories that people ultimately want to read, and keeping that the priority. But I do think about those kids a lot, and how I influence them. I remind myself, and I tell my fellow writers, that the kids we write for today are going to be politicians with Twitter accounts tomorrow. I know what these kids read now will affect the people they become. I’m a firm believer that if our current leaders read books about black kids when they were kids, we wouldn’t be where we are today. If they read books about Latino kids, they wouldn’t be calling for walls.
In this book you do something really well that we rarely see on the page, which is lay out the interior, mental process of composing a rap, or any kind of rhyming verse, for that matter.
I have the utmost respect for rappers, specifically the ones who are good! Because word play and sentence structure and flow and all that, they are not easy to do. I was mainly going on how I did it when I was a teenager. I asked myself, what made me decide to rhyme this word with that word? So often hip-hop is written off, and people don’t consider it an art form. In showing Bri’s mind-set as she does her rhymes, I wanted to show people that this is not easy, you really have to have a talent, and study and learn and take it seriously if you want to do it well. It was many, many drafts!
One of the other pleasures of this book is the presence of Bri’s grandparents and their church friends. You found the comedy in them but also, there are some deep ideas about generations and families.
A lot of this book was inspired by my own teenage years. My big tragedy was when my mom lost her job and it put my family into crisis mode, but I also drew on how I grew up living in a nontraditional two-parent household — and I say nontraditional because my two parents were my mom and my grandma. That’s a reality for a lot of kids, but it also can be messy. My family was more functional than Bri’s, but my grandmother too was a huge part of my upbringing.
Also, I wanted Bri’s story to be parallel to hip-hop’s story. When I think of hip-hop in relation to soul and R & B, in a lot of ways those are the grandparents of hip-hop. Artists in those genres will criticize hip-hop, and don’t understand it. But you can’t disconnect hip-hop from R & B, from the blues, from gospel even. Bri’s grandparents don’t always understand her or agree with her, but they’re still connected to her and influence her.
You focused a little more on teenage romance in this book, too. Why did you decide to go there?
I always feel like I drop the ball on the romance part — and you know, it’s not a requirement of a young adult book by any means, but sometimes it feels as though, you should have something in there. I just never want to make my readers feels as if they have to have this happening in their lives, they have to act a certain way. With Bri, we see this crush she’s had for so long, but I raise the question: ‘Just because this is the person I’ve liked for so long, is this the person I should be with?’
Have you already started another novel?
I have, and I’m still writing to find out what happens. All I can tell you is, it’s also set in Garden Heights.B:
藏獒视频生财有道视频震撼王【提】【起】【此】【事】，【危】【宿】【满】【心】【羞】【愧】，【但】【是】【也】【反】【思】【着】【每】【个】【细】【节】，【究】【竟】【是】【谁】【能】【无】【声】【无】【息】【地】【从】【秦】【王】【府】【的】【地】【牢】【里】【把】【人】【带】【走】，【还】【足】【足】【瞒】【了】【他】【们】【一】【个】【晚】【上】。 【卫】【衍】【想】【起】【昨】【日】【在】【婚】【宴】【上】【瞥】【见】【的】【身】【影】，【能】【在】【秦】【王】【府】【来】【去】【自】【如】，【想】【来】【他】【身】【边】【也】【已】【经】【不】【安】【全】【了】。 “【府】【中】【有】【内】【鬼】，【彻】【查】！” 【进】【宫】【的】【路】【上】，【卫】【衍】【脸】【色】【一】【直】【都】【不】【大】【好】。 【沈】【鸢】【也】【知】
【等】【白】【亦】【城】【和】【舒】【语】【梦】【洗】【完】【澡】，【躺】【在】【床】【上】【的】【时】【候】，【已】【经】【是】【快】12【点】【了】。 “【晚】【上】【又】【没】【上】【游】【戏】【了】。”【舒】【语】【梦】【感】【慨】【的】【说】【了】【一】【句】。 “【没】【事】，【家】【里】【挂】【着】【外】【挂】【呢】，【两】【个】【号】【都】【在】【上】【面】。”【白】【亦】【城】【大】【手】【一】【伸】，【将】【舒】【语】【梦】【搂】【进】【怀】【中】，【一】【边】【将】【她】【额】【头】【散】【落】【的】【发】【丝】【弄】【顺】，【一】【边】【说】【道】。 【舒】【语】【梦】【一】【听】，【眼】【睛】【随】【之】【一】【亮】。 “【你】【有】【挂】【着】【号】？”
【感】【叹】【一】【声】【人】【族】【古】【路】【的】【人】【口】【数】【量】【之】【大】【后】，【李】【阳】【没】【有】【停】【留】【的】【继】【续】【走】【了】【下】【去】。 【这】【个】【时】【代】【是】【最】【不】【用】【担】【心】【黑】【暗】**【的】【时】【代】，【因】【为】【有】【无】【始】【大】【帝】【在】，【那】【些】【禁】【区】【里】【的】【家】【伙】【不】【出】【来】【还】【好】，【一】【旦】【出】【来】【就】【一】【个】【也】【跑】【不】【了】。 【况】【且】【禁】【区】【至】【尊】【只】【会】【在】【成】【仙】【路】【开】【启】【的】【时】【候】【出】【世】，【寻】【常】【时】【间】【都】【是】【在】【沉】【眠】【之】【中】【渡】【过】【时】【光】，【以】【此】【来】【减】【少】【寿】【元】【的】【消】【耗】。
11【月】8【日】，【瑞】【典】【家】【居】【巨】【头】IKEA（【宜】【家】）【品】【牌】【所】【有】【方】Inter IKEA 【公】【布】【了】 2019【财】【年】【关】【键】【财】【务】【数】【据】，【由】【于】【集】【团】【对】【物】【流】、【线】【上】【平】【台】、【产】【品】【研】【发】【和】【消】【费】【者】【服】【务】【等】【领】【域】【加】【大】【了】【投】【资】【力】【度】，【毛】【利】【率】【从】【去】【年】【同】【期】【的】 18.8% 【降】【至】 18%。