As a kid, author Angie Thomas loved books, but as a teenager she hated them. Why? Because there weren't characters like her.
"'Twilight' was big when I was a kid — and I have nothing against 'Twilight' — but when I was a teenager, I was like, 'My mom would not let me date a 300-year-old vampire.' So I couldn't connect with it, you know?" Thomas told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday.
One thing Thomas has all but guaranteed with her meteoric rise in the world of YA literature is that that feeling of exclusion wouldn't happen to black teens today. Thomas's debut novel, "The Hate U Give," was not only turned into a critically acclaimed movie last summer, it just celebrated its 100th week on the New York Times best-seller list. Her highly anticipated follow-up, "On The Come Up," debuted Tuesday and has also been promised the silver screen treatment.
Thomas's latest novel centers on 16-year-old Bri, an aspiring rapper who is trying to make it in order to support her family. Thomas was inspired by the feeling that she connected more with the stories rappers told than the ones contained in books.
"I wanted to talk to those kids who also see themselves in hip-hop. So often they're called reluctant readers, and there's no such thing as a reluctant reader. They just haven't found the right book," Thomas said. "Bri is for me, she's so many black girls. Bri has a voice and she knows she has a voice but sometimes she speaks without thinking. Sometimes she's a little impulsive."
Thomas hopes her success sends the message to publishers that not only will black kids read, but other kids will read about black kids. And her message to her readers? Use your voice.
"Even when people judge you for how you use it to speak up and speak out. Especially young black kids. So often they're criticized for how they say things, as opposed to what they're saying. I want them to know that you're fine just the way you are. Continue to speak up."