One Good Hustle
From award-winning writer Billie Livingston, an unsparing novel of loyalty and survival that is fierce, sharp and funny even when it's breaking your heart.
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.
One Good Hustle chronicles 2 months in Sammie Bell's struggle with her dread that she is somehow doomed genetically to be just another hustler.
1. In the novel, Sammie thinks about the church, Christianity and the Bible fairly often, even though she herself seems ambivalent about the existence of God. Discuss the meaning behind the presence of Christianity in the novel. What does Sammie find so appealing about the church? Why is she embarrassed about her time...
“You must read Billie Livingston…. Sammie is smart, mouthy, literate and articulate, and she compels you to listen.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Very involving…. Livingstone portrays Sammie’s internal conflict with devastating precision…. Great storytelling.”
—NOW (Toronto) NNNN
“I loved, just loved One Good Hustle.”
—Susie Moloney, Numéro Cinq
—The Georgia Straight
“Billie Livingston has the knack of portraying teenage life in a way that is unerring and intimate.”
“Entertaining, thoughtful & perfectly crass from page 1, character is steady & strong — Written feverishly: a primal scream.”
—The One Line Review
“Stuck in a rough hustle, the sensitive daughter of two con artists uses badass honesty and wit to survive. Funny, sharp and tender, One Good Hustle delivers a gritty page-turner about what happens when love and loyalty collide with self-preservation.”
—Eden Robinson, author of Monkey Beach and Blood Sports
“What a joy to read a work so brave and unsettling. Billie Livingston holds nothing back: the terrors of teenage life; the charm of criminals; and the innocence and anger of girls on the run. Sammie Bell is Holden Caulfield, if he was born on the wrong side of the tracks and wandering through Vancouver streets.”
—Rebecca Godfrey, author of The Torn Skirt and Under the Bridge: The True Story of the Murder of Reena Virk
“In One Good Hustle, Billie Livingston once again masterfully deploys her edgy wit to create a perfectly pitched adolescent voice, an unforgettable heroine whose scam artist toughness is matched only by her yearning for authenticity. A great read from start to finish.”
—Lilian Nattel, author of Web of Angels