Quotes from “On the Come Up” by Angie Thomas

the eyes the windows to the soul
There is a superpower that black mommas possess—they can somehow go from being gentle to firm in a matter of seconds. Hell, sometimes in the same sentence
I swear, moms are equipped with mind-reading abilities
Let them call you whatever the hell they want, baby girl. Just make sure you getting paid when they do
You can’t control what other people do. You can only control the way that you react.”

No, you can’t. Not when your arm
Oh, dear God. “Um . . . yeah. Sure.”
“Hey! Dinner ready, and I’m hungry,” Granddaddy calls from downstairs. “So bring y’all asses on!”
“Sit your behind down somewhere and hush!” Grandma says.
“Ah, the sweet sound of dysfunction,” Trey says as he leaves my room. “We’ll have to deal with that all the time now.”
“Lord, help us,” Mom adds, following him out.
The other day,” Jay says. “We talked for a few hours. Hashed out a lot of things, even stuff from way back when.”
“Did Jesus moderate it?” I ask. “’Cause that’s the only way I see this working.”
Trey goes, “Haaaa!”
Mom kisses her teeth. “Anyway! I’m not gonna act like we’re best friends, hell no. That woman still knows how to work my nerves. But we realized that we love you two and want what’s best for you. We’re willing to set our differences aside in the name of that.”
Trey picks up his phone. “Ah. That explains it. I just got a notification that it’s below zero in hell.”
t need to.”
“Oh, so I’m sexy without it?” Curtis wiggles his eyebrows.
I laugh. “Bye, Curtis.”
“You can’t admit it, don’t be scared,” he says. “So, this date of ours. We never figured out the details. I was thinking we could leave campus one day this week
I stare straight ahead. If you look an angry black momma in her eyes, there’s a chance you will turn into a pillar of salt on the spot, like ol’ girl in the Bible.
“Yeah, Bri went on his
mean, I don’t know. I’m always weird about new people, I guess. The more people in your life, the more people who can leave your life, you know? I’ve lost enough as it is.
But right now, Curtis makes me wonder if I’ve been missing out.
so that I’ll be okay”?
Jay cups my cheek. “I’m okay.”
I swear, moms are equipped with mind-reading abilities.
Jay sits up and pulls me closer. I sit on the edge of the bed. She wraps her arms around me from behind and kisses the back of my head, resting her chin on my shoulder.
“It’s been a dark couple of days,” she admits softly. “But I’m getting
m serious. Crying doesn’t make you weak, Bri, and even if it did, there’s nothing wrong with that. Admitting that you’re weak is one of the strongest things you can do.”
I turn and look up at him. “That sounds like something Yoda would say.”
“Nah. Yoda would say, ‘Weak, strength is admitting you are.’” He kisses my cheek with a loud, sloppy “Muah!”
I quickly wipe the spot. I know I felt some of his spit. “Ill! Getting
do is make it, so he doesn’t have to give up anything else. “You’ve always taken care of me,” I say.
“Li’l Bit, I do that because I want to,” Trey says. “A burden? Never. You’re too much of a gift to me.”
Gift. One word, one syllable. I don’t know if it rhymes with anything because it’s a word I never thought could be used when it comes to me.
Suddenly, it’s
Trey lowers himself to the floor and helps me sit down with him.
I rest my head in his lap. “I’m sorry I’m a burden.”
“Burden?” Trey says. “Where you get that from?”
From our whole lives. When Jay first got sick, she would disappear into her room for days on end. Trey couldn
look away. Not on some creeper shit, but I haven’t seen my brother this happy in a while. His eyes are bright, and his smile is so wide when he looks at her that it’s contagious. Not saying he was depressed or anything these past few months, but compared
holds her palm out. I slap it, but she pulls me across her lap and plants the longest, sloppiest kiss on my cheek, like she would do when I was little. I crack up. “You gotta come up with a title for me, superstar.”
“Head Aunty in Charge.”
“You know damn well Jay ain’t gon’ be cool with anybody else thinking they’re in—”
Something catches her eye
don’t know enough about the music business either.” She totally ignores what I said. “I’ve had folks hitting me up about the petition, and I ain’t got a damn clue what to say or do. This could either make you sink or swim, you know? I don’t wanna mess that up.”
Aunt Pooh’s not one to front, but maybe she fronts with me more than I realize. “You sure you okay with this?”
Corny ass. Getting all sentimental. You know you done pissed off a hell of a lot of people, right? That news report and that petition?” She laughs. “Goddamn, who knew a song could get folks that upset?”
I gotta tell her about Supreme. She may hate me, might cuss me out, but she
Two. It’s either the school in our neighborhood or this school. At that school, they don’t set students up to succeed, but here? It’s starting to feel like they’re setting my child up to fail. As a mother, what am I supposed to do? As the superintendent, what are you going to do?”
Can’t nothing get the hell out of you,” Jay mumbles.
Grandma narrows her eyes and sets her hand on her hip. “If you got something to say to me, say it.”
“You know what? Actually, I do—”
“We already know about the song,” Trey says before World War III can break out. “Ma addressed it with Bri. It’s fine.”
“No, it ain’t,” Grandma says. “Now, I done bit my tongue when it comes to a lot of stuff with you and your sister—”
Um, she hasn’t bit her tongue about
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