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Harlem Hustle by Janet McDonald
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Harlem Hustle

by Janet McDonald

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Like many young aspiring rappers, Hustle dreams of making it big in the music industry. In the meantime, he gets by with his "retail business" (selling stolen clothing). There is a pathos to Hustle's impassioned determination especially when he is unwittingly gamed twice by music execs. But his dicey ways take a turn for the more productive when his girlfriend's mother gives him a book of black poetry and he returns to school at an alternative setting. McDonald is clearly down with the 'hood, authentically portraying its voices and culture. There is humor here, too, in Hustle and Ride's friendship, and the clash of social classes. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Oct 15, 2016 |
Eric Samson is a teen who has been abandoned by druggie parents and lives with friends. He dreams of one day becoming Harlem Hustle, a great rap artist. In fact, he already goes by the nickname Hustle, and he writes raps. He meets a girl named Jeannette who he really likes, but her grandmother doesn't seem too fond of him. Throughout the course of the book, Hustle discovers that Jeannette's grandma is right about the importance of an education.
"That night Hustle lay on his mattress, exhausted but awake. He pockets a nice chain, he thought, then he gets gacked--by girls. Jeannette likes him, her grandmother hates him. One minute it's blowup time, then he's getting pushed off a balcony. Ups and downs. Too much roller coastering. Like shadows blending into night, his dark thoughts merged into a single black depression. No parents, passed around, lockdown, broke down, just plain down. He asked the air what he'd done, what he was being made to pay for. Ditching school? Stealing? Fighting? Wildin'? Sure he'd messed up, but who hadn't? The way he saw it, he was just surviving, struggling to be one of the fittest, one of the illest. The way Darwin would have seen it, Hustle belonged to a very endangered species--young black guys with no schooling, no jobs, and lengthening rap sheets. But unlike the doomed mountain lion creeping inevitably towards extinction, Hustle had the power to change his destiny. But first, he had to believe it" (105). ( )
  ceulinger | Nov 3, 2007 |
• McDonald, Janet. Harlem Hustle. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.

Annotation: 17 year old “Hustle” is a career shoplifter and an aspiring rapper. However, a shady record executive makes his dreams difficult to attain. Luckily, he is convinced that school is something that is worthwhile for him.

Recommended for Ages: This book is recommended for young adult readers. The subject matter is more suitable for this age. Also, there are a few instances of profanity, gun violence and sexual innuendos. Young adults will love the urban slang that is used heavily throughout the book.

How to Use with Children: Young adults would definitely be able to identify with the characters in this book. I would like for young adults to read it for its strong message that finishing high school is important. It also talks about famous African-American poets that I think young adults would check into if they read this book.
  cdl | Sep 10, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374371849, Hardcover)

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.
 
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?
 
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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:17 -0400)

Eric "Hustle" Samson, a smart and street-wise seventeen-year-old dropout from Harlem, aspires to rap stardom, a dream he naively believes is about to come true. 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. 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?… (more)

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