Interview: Author Angie Thomas Talks 'On The Come Up,' It's Tuesday. Sam chats with Angie Thomas, author of the best-selling young adult novel 'The Hate U Give' about her new book, 'On The Come Up.' They talk about both her books, about proving there's a huge audience for the black experience in young adult literature, and about moving on up — and why it's complicated. Email samsanders@npr.org or tweet @NPRItsBeenAMin with feels.
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Author Angie Thomas Writes To 'Mirror' Young, Black Readers

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Author Angie Thomas Writes To 'Mirror' Young, Black Readers

Author Angie Thomas Writes To 'Mirror' Young, Black Readers

Author Angie Thomas Writes To 'Mirror' Young, Black Readers

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/690391879/691383207" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Angie Thomas attends The Hate U Give cast and filmmakers presentation at Essence Festival 2018 on July 6, 2018 in New Orleans. Thomas's new book is called On The Come Up. Ryan Theriot/Getty Images for 20th Century Fox hide caption

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Ryan Theriot/Getty Images for 20th Century Fox

Angie Thomas attends The Hate U Give cast and filmmakers presentation at Essence Festival 2018 on July 6, 2018 in New Orleans. Thomas's new book is called On The Come Up.

Ryan Theriot/Getty Images for 20th Century Fox

What's the right age for a child to read fiction inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement?

Your answer, author Angie Thomas says, might say something about your privilege.

Thomas once heard from an 8-year-old reader who loved her best-selling debut novel, The Hate U Give, which tells the story of a black teenage girl who witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her childhood friend.

And Thomas was struck when she learned where the young boy got her book: from his mother.

"That made me say, 'Huh. Your mom thought that at 8 years old, you needed to read this book,'" Thomas says. "That means that you are aware of something that an 8-year-old should not have to be aware of."

Meanwhile, Thomas says she's heard from a lot of white parents who aren't sure their teenager is ready for literature about racism and police violence.

Her reply?

"There are black parents of 8-year-olds who have to have these conversations," she says. "If you only have to worry about your child reading about it, consider yourself blessed. That's privilege."

Thomas spoke to Sam about her new book, On The Come Up, which examines racial privilege through the story of 16-year-old Bri, an aspiring rapper who goes viral — for all the wrong reasons. They also discussed diversity in publishing, how a chance encounter on Twitter launched her career and her choice to leave behind her childhood home in Jackson, Miss., for a gated community elsewhere in town.

Brent Baughman and Alexander McCall produced and edited this episode.