Saturday, October 6
Book Review: One Good Hustle
Author: Billie Livingston
Summary: The child of 2 con artists, 16-year-old Sammie Bell always prided herself on knowing the score. But now she finds herself backed into a corner. After a hustle gone dangerously wrong, her mother, Marlene, is sliding into an abyss of alcoholic depression, spending her days fantasizing aloud about death--a goal Sammie is tempted to help her accomplish. Horrified by the appeal of this, Sammie packs a bag and leaves her mother to her own devices.
With her father missing in action, she has nowhere else to go but the home of a friend with 2 parents who seem to actually love their daughter and each other--and who awkwardly try to extend some semblance of family to Sammie. Throughout a long summer of crisis among the normals, Sammie is torn between her longing for the approval of the con-man father she was named for and her desire for the "weird, spearmint-fresh feeling" of life in the straight world. Sammie wants to be normal but fears that where she comes from makes that beyond the realm of possibility.
My Rating: 7.5/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: I was surprised on how much I enjoyed this book. I thought the young adult narration and tone would be a big turn off for me, and although at times it was, I did find myself immersed in the book, and at times having a slight emotional connection to Sammie.
Sammie was a well written character. She was a character who at first glance was your typical teenager in a book, but eventually the reader sees that she's a fairly complex character. It did take me some time to warm up to her, but eventually I felt very emotionally connected to her and my heart went out to her at time as she struggled with her family issues, particularly in some scenes with her mother.
I did find parts of the story dragged on a bit. There were times where it took a while for the plot to move forward. I also found it was a bit heavy with the young adult drama that you see in all novels with a young adult protagonist (boys, friends, first jobs, growing up, etc). I'm not a big young adult reader, so generally when it has a heavy focus on the lives of a young adult, I find I lose interest. Luckily most the story was very strong, and kept me reading until the end. The ending was probably one of my favourite parts. It's an ending I think a lot of readers would be disappointed with, and generally endings like this I find myself disappointed with it, but this was a very fitting ending for Sammie and the book.
Not something I'd normally read, but I am glad I read the book as it turned out to be well worth reading.
Would I recommend it to read: I would. It was a well written book. Some good characterization, and generally a good read. I think YA readers would enjoy this book, along with readers like myself who veer away from YA fiction.
What to read next: The Other 2012 Giller Longlisters
Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Fall into Reading Challenge