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.