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One Good Hustle Paperback – Deckle Edge, Jul 24 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada (July 24 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307359883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307359889
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #125,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sean s. TOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 8 2012
Format: Paperback
Billie Livingston is a writer based in Vancouver, and One Good Hustle is the story of a teenage girl in Burnaby, B.C. in the mid-1980s.

Sammie Bell is a 16-year-old living, or rather surviving, in a very dysfunctional situation. Her father, a con man, is absent, and her mother Marlene is a pathetic, melodramatic, alcoholic, would-be suicide:

"`I'm going to throw myself off a pier,' Marlene had said, and then put more lipstick on. My mother has always liked the idea of looking pretty when she dies. So she kept at it, putting on layer after layer of mascara while she talked about how she would dive into the ocean. `My bones drifting free, finally free,' she said, as if it was the most gorgeous ambition ever.'"

After her absent father ignores her desperate cry for help, Sammie wisely takes refuge where she can, which turns out to be the home of a friend - actually only a friendly acquaintance. When you're falling off a cliff, you cling to even the most slender branch.

One Good Hustle is the story of her survival and even growth on this branch, living the challenges that every adolescent faces, plus a host of burdens far too heavy for one so young. When the most basic security and stability is lacking in life, moral questions become a lot more ambiguous and nuanced.

Similar in sensibility to Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals, Billie Livingston's novel is a good read full of insights on the human, all-too-human tendency to cling emotionally to one's family members, even when every piece of rational evidence tells you to cut your losses. But it is also an uplifting story of human resilience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 18 2012
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susie Moloney on Aug. 3 2012
Format: Paperback
Billie Livingston's work always reminds me of the great Kent Haruf. The beautiful simplicity and heartbreakingly accurate arrow to the heart, is omnipresent in all her work, and One Good Hustle is no exception. In this, her fourth book, she gives us Marlene and Sammie, mother and daughter, tied together with fierce loyalty and secret criminality. The story starts with Sammie taking a little respite from the bitter responsibility that is her mother. Like a lot of daughters, she has great hopes that her father will somehow change and become the hero in the story. Sammie has a foot in two worlds, and is trying to figure out where she belongs.

The "one good hustle" of the title ties in nicely with the ending which is in no way pat or even necessarily happy, but is very satisfying. The kind of book you wish didn't end. As with Going Down Swinging and Cease to Blush, this is book I'll probably read again. And probably again. Maybe that's Livingston's best hustle, eh?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Hustle is Good Indeed!! Aug. 27 2012
By Williamson - Published on
Format: Paperback
A while back, a friend bamboozled me into reading a book I had no interest in reading. The book was, "Going Down Swinging," the author, Billie Livingston. Okay, I admit - my friend did me a huge favor - and never fails to remind me of it. Since then, I've read "Cease To Blush" and "Greedy Little Eyes,"by the same author. Simply put, Livingston has become one of my favorite writers. And, I've wondered - given the critical acclaim her work receives - why she hasn't yet been awarded one of the major prizes given to people doing what she does. So, I read some of her contemporaries who have been so honored. Thus far, all seem clearly talented, competent - even evince moments of greatness. But, in my admittedly unprofessional view, none come close to the degree of fullness Livingston achieves -- the dimensionality, the humanity, the soul. She has a commanding talent, unaffected (a breath of fresh air in itself!) - keenly intelligent, deeply compassionate, and maybe most impressively - often funny and poignant in the same moment. So, I'm happy to report that with, "One Good Hustle," Livingston remains on track, continuing to gain momentum. As with each of the other books, this is a story I could almost swear I'd seen, rather than read - with characters (eg, the precious Sammie Bell) that feel like people I've really met, spent important time with, and miss now that they're no longer "here."
Loved it Oct. 26 2013
By Maia - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I absolutely loved Billie Livingston's latest - lyrical, poetic and touching. I would recommend to anyone looking for a great read.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good Writing, but slow plot July 25 2012
By Abria @ Read. Write. Discuss. - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
One Good Hustle is set in Vancouver in the 1980s, after Sammie, the daughter of two hustlers, has left home to stay with a friend. Her home life is in shambles, her father is absent, and so-called friends do her family more harm than good. Living with her friend Jill and Jill's parents, Ruby and Lou, Sammie feels more than ever like a square peg in a round hole. Making matters simultaneously better and worse is love interest Drew, a Christian boy that Sammie met through a youth group. Drew treats Sammie better than anyone else ever has, but between her past and her present, she doesn't feel that she deserves his kindness, much less his affection.

I rated One Good Hustle three stars because the writing is good. Livingston creates well-paced dialogue and brings characters to life with just the right amount of description. What kept this from being a five-star book, in my opinion, was the lack of tension and discernible plot. One Good Hustle reads more like a character study than a novel, with Sammie moving passively from one action to another, always caught between the decisions of other people, to the flashbacks of Sammie's childhood in which she was, once again, a pawn. The main character doesn't drive the action, and when she tries, she feels bad about what she does or is frustrated in her efforts. I had no idea where the novel was going -- toward romance with Drew? Reconciliation with her parents? A better lifestyle? A rejection of Jill, Ruby and Lou's lifestyle? This is a novel that accumulates; it does not build.

While I was disappointed with the plot, that doesn't mean that others won't get a thrill out of this book. If you grew up in or love the 80s, you'll love all the cultural and musical references. This New Adult coming-of-age story is certainly original, its characters unforgettable, and the dialogue is written with flavourful flare.

(I received an advance copy of this novel via NetGalley).

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