cover image On the Come Up

On the Come Up

Travis Hunter. Kensington/Dafina KTeen, $9.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-7582-4252-5

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.)