A few weeks ago, me and Sarah went to an event at Manchester Central Library to see Angie Thomas talk about her latest release, On The Come Up and answer some questions about it. I finished the book just after the event and absolutely adored it. If I could give it more than 5 stars out of 5, I truly would. The event was fantastic and I was so excited to see Angie speak.
Of course, the event was brilliant. We got there pretty early, the eager people we are, and got super good seats! We went with a few of our friends so it was even better – the only thing better than going to a book event is going to one with good friends. One of these was the fabulous Lois from LoisReadsBooks.
The chair was fab too – a lady named Shirley May, who is the Director of Young Identity in Manchester. It was great to see two people have such a wonderful discussion that was funny, important and just all-round excellent!
This was definitely one of my favourite book events that I have been to. The audience were brilliant, all full of fans of Angie’s work and people asked some wonderful questions. Angie said quite early on that she writes a book for herself and writes it how she wants it, not thinking of if others will like it or not and this works really well for her. I loved this – as a writer myself, I think it’s easy to get caught up in worrying whether or not people will enjoy your work but at the end of the day if you enjoy writing it and love the finished version yourself, then you’ve succeeded.
Something she said which got a LOT of applause was that she doesn’t like “after-the-fact diversity” meaning when authors or creators say after their work is out that a character is black or gay or any other ‘minority’ representation without even a slight mention of this in the book. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and am very skeptical about creators backtracking and adding diversity when it wasn’t even hinted at in the original material. Angie brought this up because she said she wished she would have had more inclusivity within The Hate U Give. It’s not a spoiler to say that there is some gay representation in On The Come Up and she said she wanted to put it in this book particularly because she hadn’t in The Hate U Give. It is also wonderfully diverse gay representation as more often than not, LGBTQ+ stories are about white people, not people of colour, something which she also brought up.
Something else she spoke about was the film adaptation of THUG and how she couldn’t believe the film was being made until she sat and watched it – she constantly thought it wasn’t really going to happen! If you’ve seen the film and read the book, you’ll know about that one scene with Sekani that was changed (an amazing change but DAMN TENSE). Angie genuinely wanted to redraft the (already released) book so that she could change the scene to the film version! I remember seeing it in the cinema with Sarah and we hit each other and held hands because we were so tense!
One of the highlights of the night – and there were many – was when Angie performed one of Bri’s raps. It was so great! I don’t know a lot about rap but I love how much Angie loves rap music. You can tell she is so invested in it and has done a lot of research in terms of writing raps, which is something she said she has done. The fact she wrote a few for her book is so impressive and talented! I loved it, it really added to the story.
The signing was as wonderful as the event – Angie Thomas is a truly warm, friendly human being and it was so lovely to meet her in person! I had a chat about how much I adored her books and that whilst reading On The Come Up I was listening to her Spotify playlist she created for songs that inspired it. I can normally only listen to chilled songs or classical music like film soundtracks whilst I read but this was such an amazing combination, especially when reading the raps Bri performed!
I honestly had such a brilliant time and was so happy to see her speak and meet her since I love her and her books so much. I would definitely go to any other events she does in the future. If you’re reading this post and you haven’t read any of Angie Thomas’ books, please do! I cannot recommend them enough, they are fantastic books.
Did you go to any of Angie Thomas’ events she did for On The Come Up? Let us know if you did and if you had a fab time!