One Good Hustle

One Good Hustle

A Novel

Book - 2012
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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. With her mother an alcoholic and 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.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2012
Branch Call Number: FICTION LIV
Characteristics: 271 p. ; 21 cm


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Apr 15, 2013

Sammie has got it rough, her mom wants to kill herself and she has little interaction with her father - both are con artists, which has left an imprint on Sammie and her outlook on life and its expectations (or the lack there of). Loved the character development, as well as, the landscape of Burnaby/Vancouver with Sammie's trapsings. Take in how Sammie deals with her relationships with her mom/dad and how she wants to fit in and be normal with her foster family. Enjoyed!

branch_reviews Nov 03, 2012

Sixteen year old Sammie Bell is the daughter of two con artists. She lives with her mother, a depressed woman who abuses drugs and alcohol and talks about ending her life. Sammie has not heard from her dad for a year, but she clings to the hope that he will call and save her and her mother. At the point when she can take no more Sammie turns to Jill, a school friend, for a place to stay. The story unfolds over the summer after the girls have finished grade 11. Sammie tries to fit in with Jill and her parents and their version of family but this is not easy for her. She wants to be ‘normal’ but fears that where she comes from makes this impossible. Sammie is faced with making some difficult decisions and she rises to the challenge.
This book was not written for the young adult audience but would appeal to older teens as well as adults. It was long-listed for the 2012 Giller Prize. Reviewed by JL

Sep 25, 2012

This book didn't have much in the way of plot and I didn't feel like the character development was strong enough to make up for it. Although your heart does go out to the main character as she struggles to overcome the difficult life her parents have given her. I think the writing style and subject matter would be better suited to a YA book.

Aug 25, 2012

if you grew up in Vancouver in the 70s and 80s you will feel very nostalgic reading this book. Endless Love was my first dance wedding song and reading this book was so enjoyable and brought back so many memories of growing up in the Lower Mainland during those years. I loved Sammie and reading about her dealing with the world around her kept me up reading the book from start to finish in one night.

ksoles Aug 18, 2012

In her third novel, Billie Livingston transports the reader to 1980s Burnaby, B.C. and chronicles a difficult summer in the life of Sammie Bell. This razor-tongued 16-year-old has two con artists for parents: an absent, card shark father and a depressed, suicidal, alcoholic mother. When Sammie leaves her mom to stay with her friend, Jill, she finds herself caught between the Christian ideals of her pseudo–foster family and the shady but alluring world of her hustler parents and their ramshackle group of so-called friends.

Livingston has created nuanced, multi-dimensional characters who at once display abstinence, lawlessness, caring, hypocrisy, loyalty and flaw. Sammie herself has a tough but sensitive, sarcastic but sweet voice, which lingers after the book ends. Apart from a climactic scene that wraps up too quickly, "One Good Hustle" makes for an enjoyable, fast and entertaining read.

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