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Sixteen-year-old twins DeMarco and Jasmine Winslow trade off narrating this story of teens who rise above tough circumstances, thanks largely to golden opportunities that fall in their laps. DeMarco and Jasmine live with their alcoholic mother and three-year-old brother in the Bluff, one of Atlanta’s poorest neighborhoods. DeMarco is just getting out of juvie, where he’s been sent 32 times in four years for petty theft, after letting himself get caught (“Three hot meals a day was like dying and going to heaven”). Jasmine, meanwhile, has just been kicked out after standing up to their mother’s lecherous boyfriend; when she attends a superstar rapper’s party, she meets a photographer who wants to make her a model. DeMarco’s voice rings true as he tries to put together a life that doesn’t involve illegal activity, something that gets harder when Jasmine gets stabbed. While Jasmine and DeMarco are easy enough to root for, the story’s many wish-fulfillment elements and its fairy tale ending—in which a teacher steps in to change DeMarco’s life and Jasmine’s modeling career takes off—weaken its overall impact and believability. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—DeMarco, 16, is tired of Juvie, even though he has three meals, clean clothes, and a much nicer living environment than he has at home. Just out of jail and determined to change his life, he finds that not much has changed: his mother is drunk, there's a new guy in the house, and there's no food for three-year-old Devin. His twin sister, Jasmine, seems to be hanging out with the wrong crowd and may have even dropped out of school. Hunter gets the gritty details exactly right and will hook readers with the dilemmas and dreams of the twins, both of whom tell their stories. This is plain old wonderful fantasy: Life is hard for these teens, and then nice people help them. Jasmine becomes a model overnight, DeMarco gets accepted into the best prep school, their mom gets sober, and the new neighbors take care of Devin while everything gets sorted out. Surprisingly, it all works. What inner-city teen doesn't fantasize that things could change and be resolved that easily? A fast read, with a great cover, this is a definite quick pick for reluctant readers. Fans of Ni-Ni Simone's A Girl Like Me (Dafina, 2008), Babygirl Daniels's 16 on the Block (2009), and Darrien Lee's "Denim Diaries" series (both Urban Books) now have another author to get excited about.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CA
Part 'hood fairy tale, part slice of life, this warm but uneven chronicle sees a pair of twins from Atlanta achieve hard-won and unexpected successes. After his 32nd stay in juvenile prison, DeMarco, sporting a facial tattoo he gave himself, goes home determined to go back to school and stay out of trouble. He returns to the Bluff, the poor neighborhood where his family lives, and finds that his mother, an alcoholic, has been neglecting the house and his baby brother Devin. Meanwhile, DeMarco's twin, Jasmine, who narrates some of the chapters, has become involved with a group of dangerous girls and is being sexually threatened by her mother's boyfriend. After her new "friends" leave her at a high-class party, evidently drugged, Jasmine is rescued by a heroic gentleman who launches her into a modeling career that seems too good to be believed--but is never shown to be so. The large and diverse cast of characters, some developed better than others, adds depth to the portrayal of the Bluff, and the narrative makes many straightforward yet insightful observations about race, poverty and injustice. The book could benefit from another round of editing, however: A final section feels tacked on, and a few points of exposition are repeated unnecessarily. Despite some flaws, there is heart and wisdom to be found here. (Fiction. 12 & up)
DeMarco Winslow and his sister, Jasmine, suffered while living in a not so good part of Atlanta. Their mother was anything but what a mother should be. To get out of the neighborhood and into a place where he was guaranteed food everyday, DeMarco would do petty crimes and head off to juvenile hall. As he leaves the confinement of jail, DeMarco vows this would be the last time he is locked away no matter what. In On the Come Up by Travis Hunter, a brother is on a mission to do better than he has ever done, while his twin sister begins making some choices that could ruin both their lives.
DeMarco is surprised to learn Jasmine has changed during the time he was away. The girls she is hanging with have a different view on how they are going to make it in their rough neighborhood. He was not out 24 hours hours before his entire world began to spiral out of control. Are his surroundings pulling him back into a life of crime? Will being in jail be all DeMarco knows?
Jasmine has tried for as long as she could remember to live with her mother and not hate her. However, when her mother does not believe her, when she brings to light a very serious matter, Jasmine heads for the door. When her friends come to the rescue, Jasmine gets more than she bargains for. What will happen to her life because she went against her instincts and got into the car with her friends?
The characters kept things real; they reminded me of typical teenagers who did what they wanted when they wanted. Even though the story was well-written, there were a couple of instances of implausibility. I recommend On the Come Up to teenagers, especially teen boys. There are some lessons embedded within the words of Mr. Hunter's that may be beneficial to them.
On the Come Up by Travis Hunter was incredible!! Demarco was such a strong character! He gets released from juvenile by Mr. P, since his own mother was too lazy to come sign him out. As soon as he arrives home he realizes why he always would rather be in juvenile: he remembered doing petty crimes to purposefully end up there. When he arrives home he finds out that his sister Jasmine is hanging with the wrong crowd, his little brother is not being taken care of well, he can't go back to school, and plenty of other things. He decides to call Mr. P for help when his living environment becomes too hard to bear. Will these circumstances drive him back to the streets or make him stronger? Jasmine is in knee deep with a group of "DIVAS", whom she thought two of the three were her friend. She is attracted to the money and cars that they have, but is naive to what they do to get these things. She finally decides enough is enough when she finds herself awake in a stranger's bed: but is it already too late shake three "DIVAS" who believe you have money to split three more ways? This book is a tale of the everyday struggles plenty of urban youth face everyday, one in which will make you feel connected to Jas and Marco every second of the book! I give this book SIX stars and I hope there is a spin-off entailing Jasmine and Demarco's talent (not going to say what is so I don't spoil it)!! :)