Hustle by Jason Skipper
Publisher: Press 53
From the cover:
In this powerful debut novel, an alcoholic ex-con man grandfather, his restless, philandering seafood salesman son, and his hopeful musician grandson struggle to make up for their past and somehow set course for the future. In the past, the grandfather has hustled for money; now he’s hustling for redemption. The son has hustled for women; now he’s hustling for love of a different sort. His son, Chris, is hustling to be a famous musician with enough money to solve his family’s unsolvable problems. Chris’s coming-of-age story explores the ways people struggle to fulfill their wants and desires-and what they are willing to sacrifice to feel free.
I’m not even sure where to begin reviewing this novel. I can’t remember the last time I read a book with a coming of age story that was so gut wrenching and heart breaking as the one presented in Hustle by Jason Skipper. My heart truly went out to Chris as I read his story and I couldn’t decide whether I hated his parents or simply felt sorry for them because I knew deep down they were doing the best they could and they were raising him the only way they know how.
Hustle covers nine years of Chris’s life starting from when he’s nine years old, watching his father hustle another man to purchase a guitar for him, to when he’s eighteen years old and playing with his band at a show. In between are loosely connected stories of important moments in Chris’s life told in chronological order. When I first started this book it almost felt like I was reading a memoir. Each chapter was like a small missive centering around an important moment in Chris’s life that help turn him into the person he is at the end of the book. The book jumped from one moment to another, but I’ll give credit to the author for making the stories flow together extremely smoothly. I actually liked that he jumped around and included only the big moments about Chris’s life, whether it was learning how to hustle from his grandfather to growing from a relationship with his girlfriend.
Although it was difficult to see Chris struggle so much growing up and having to grow up much faster than most kids his age, I really enjoyed reading Hustle. It was heart breaking at times, but it was also touching and encouraging to see Chris mature and grow up so much from when he was young and naïve.
Hustle was an enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone who’s looking for a coming of age novel. At only 200 pages, it’s a novel that will both entertain you and keep you interested throughout.