I am a fan of Angie Thomas. THUG is an incredible novel, and I knew I would read just about anything she writes. This week, I dive into her follow up novel to THUG, which isn't a direct sequel, but takes place in Garden Heights, the same place as THUG.
Bree is in the midst of prepping for college entrance exams, but she can't focus on it, because her entire life is hinging on a phone call. You see, 'rookies' are invited to battle in The Ring on Thursday nights, and she has a chance.
Bree is a rapper. She just hasn't had her come up yet.
This novel takes place in the same neighborhood of Garden Heights, but in a distinctly different setting than The Hate U Give. Bree lives with her recovering addict mother and older brother, who's been to college but moved home to help the family. Her mother has been working hard to provide, but it's a struggle daily. Bree's father was gunned down when she was little, but he's a legend in his own right.
Known as Lawless, he was the one that was supposed to make it out of the Garden, but he never did.
When the phone call comes inviting Bree to the ring, it's a chance to change not only her life, but the life of everyone around her.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel all over again. Rap is poetry, and it was a lot of fun getting to see the inner workings of Bree's mind whenever she was coming up with a rap. This novel explores going after your dreams when everything is set against you reaching them.
Bree has experienced a lot of trauma at her age, and it just keeps coming with violent security guards at school, her aunt who is a member of a gang, and the overall perception of others trying to paint her in a bad light.
It's such a good novel, and, like THUG, it paints a portrait that people like me could never understand. Angie Thomas is a brilliant writer.
I didn't realize a movie was made until recently, which is why I chose this novel to include in my From Page to Screen series.
If ever there was a book so different from the movie that I barely recognized it... this is it.
I completely understand having to cut characters and plot points for times sake. When adapting to film, stories have to be made succinct. But, y'all, it felt like the screenplay took the characters created by Thomas and rewrote the entire story.
The base plot of Bree getting her call and going into the ring that first night is the same, but, from there, the story could not be more different. I found it hard to enjoy the movie because it was such a whiplash from the book.
Things I enjoyed:
-seeing Aunt Pooh on the screen. I think she is a very dynamic character and I would love if Angie Thomas wrote her story. Morally gray characters that love with their whole heart just GET ME.
-the actress that played Bree was incredible! The movie definitely had an 8 Mile feel to it, but give me a badass female rapper any day!
Things I didn't enjoy: -Changing the plot of that first battle. In the book, there are three rounds. In the movie, it's just one and Bree chokes and I thought that was so unfair to the character.
-I wanted to see more of Bree's family dynamic included in the movie. We lost the grandparent plotline and a lot of the actual healing done between Bree and her mom.
I almost wish I hadn't re-read the novel before watching the movie, just because it was so different that I would have liked to enjoy the movie for what it is. Overall, if you enjoy Black stories, rap music, and an unwavering faith in your dreams, I'd recommend reading the novel and/or watching the movie!