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Harlem hustle
Book
2006
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

I'm on my own, I got nothin'. No family, no schoolin', no skills. . . . This is probably my one shot, the one chance I might ever get in this messed up life. Abandoned by his family and living with a friend in Harlem, Hustle has two talents--stealing and rapping--and since he has already done time for stealing, he is committed to becoming the next great rap artist. He gets noticed by Tony Motta, a high-profile Mafioso music producer whose threats of violence force Hustle to sell his best rap for a pittance and all but destroy his dream. Enter Spencer Adams Sr., the power behind the production company, who also manipulates Hustle under the guise of helping him. While Hustle navigates the streets and the music industry, he explores a tender romance with a girl whose grandmother despises all things ghetto. Numerous passages of explication, alternating between didactic lectures and moralizing social messages, interrupt the story. That's too bad because the novel also filled with energy and rhythm. Hustle's reality, relayed in urban dialect, will appeal to teen readers, including the reluctant. --Holly Koelling Copyright 2006 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Eric Samson goes by Double H, or Harlem Hustle, and lives with the family of his best friend, Manley "Ride" Freeman. "A wretched child who was never given anything but away--first to relatives, then to neighbors," Double H's thang is rap. Trying to shoplift, he gets unwanted attention from store detectives and then is mistaken for a real rap star. Full of jive talk, rap lyrics and enough blue language to be realistic, McDonald captures the flavor of desperation mixed with bravado that translates into a gripping tale of the hood. Early on, Hustle gets into a flashy party and meets real rap stars, producers and fans. There's a na™vet contrasting with his street smarts that captures Hustle's vulnerability as he tries to make a demo and move up. Jeannette, a friend who attends a hotshot prep school and works in publishing, provides a needed contrast of values--as does the incredibly wealthy home of preppy Spencer Adams, a young man learning the family recording industry from the inside. Elements of smartness spar with smart-alecky repartee in this fast-paced ride about a universal longing for excellence at something, and being recognized for it. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
<p> Hustle's personal Harlem was sorely in need of a renaissance. For him, it was the place where a scared kid named Eric Samson had been ditched by druggy parents and dismissed by frustrated teachers. </p> <p>Abandoned to the streets to raise himself, Eric Samson knows life won't be easy, beginning with the choices he must make. The fast cash of the streets still tempts him, but the threat of getting locked up - again - is daunting. Maybe Eric's way out is as Harlem Hustle, the rapper he dreams of being. At his side is Manley "Ride" Freeman, surrogate brother and best friend. And Jeannette Simpson, the college-bound "round-the-way" girl he hopes will be more than a friend. But does Eric have the strength to leave the familiar street life behind and the courage to reach for his dream?</p> <p>In her companion to Brother Hood , Janet McDonald once again captures the rhythms of Harlem in this fast, funny story of a restless teenager who uses the power of words to rise above it all.</p>
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