One Good Hustle – Billie Livingston

This book reminded me of the show The Riches, with Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard. I loved that show. I have no idea why it was cancelled. But anyway… It reminded me of this show because both of these families are scavengers. Not wanting to adapt to society and live like normal people, by working a legitimate job to earn a buck. 

They thrive off the weak and gullible. “Hustling” them to make some money so they can just turn around and spend it on booze. The sad part about this book, is hearing the stories of their 16-year-old daughter–Sammie Bell–who has moved into her friend’s place after her father took off and her mother’s alcoholism has reached a new low, by turning dangerous tricks that gets them into trouble. 

Sammie tells tales of her childhood, and how she remember pulling jobs with her parents at such a young age, and you can see by her interaction with people in the present how this has affected her. How she relates to others trying to show her affection and express their love. These emotions confuse her and she runs away from anyone trying to help.

I got pulled away from the main story and got wrapped up in the love story between her and her friend Drew. But that was a mistake because I was left wanting closure, from a story that will never come. But that is my own fault for getting caught up in Hollywood romanticism that was clearly not the overall conclusion but a mere blimp in the story line.

Overall, it was a great read and I would recommend it to all! It was definitely a gripping tale!



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.


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