Harlem Hustle

Janet McDonald

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

0374328552

9780374328559

Trade Paperback

192 Pages

$16.99

CAD19.50

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy

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.

REVIEWS

Praise for Harlem Hustle

"In this wonderful novel about the hip-hop lifestyle, both its savory and unsavory aspects, McDonald once again strikes gold. She takes readers on a journey with Eric Hustle Samson, 17, in his search for money and fame. Abandoned by his druggy parents, not in school, on probation, taken in by a friend's family, and hustling for money by shoplifting, the teen dreams of becoming a successful rapper known as Harlem Hustle. True, he has talent, but what he doesn't have is a real sense of who he is. What he does have, though, is a couple of friends and some other people who care about him. The author nails the hip-hop lingo and the street slang, and her characters strike just the right attitude. Along the way, she throws in a cultural-history lesson or two and lets the story take off. Young adults will love this book."—Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ, School Library Journal (starred review)

"Can a hardworking round-the-way girl from Brooklyn become good friends with a street-smart dropout from uptown? Jeannette Simpson and Eric Samson have every intention of finding out. They're not ruling out romance either, despite their different backgrounds. Jeannette attends an exclusive prep school and spends nights studying under her grandmother's watchful eye. Eric, a.k.a. 'Hustle,' has been on his own since he was a little kid. He has just given up a shoplifting career and now dreams of life as a rap superstar. The language in Harlem Hustle can be rough at times, but the author lightens things up with jokes and characters who talk like real people. The action moves from Eric's humble home to the posh parlors of the Upper East Side as he pursues his dream—and Jeannette. In time he learns that he doesn't have to be a gangsta to get the girl, and his rhymes change from haunted to hopeful: 'What if her smile was the trigga to why you dig her?/ what if a book was the trigga that made you think bigger?'"—Jabari Asim, The Washington Post's Book World

"'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 . . . the novel is also filled with energy and rhythm. Hustle's reality, relayed in urban dialect, will appeal to teen readers, including the reluctant."—Holly Koelling, Booklist

"Filled with energy and rhythm. Hustle's reality, relayed in urban dialect, will appeal to teen readers, including the reluctant."—Booklist

"McDonald's prose incorporates dynamic, realistic, direct dialogue. Readers will enjoy witnessing the supposedly street-smart Hustle discover how little he really knows about the world and himself."—VOYA

"An inspiring and uplifting, not to mention funny, read."The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Harlem Hustle

1
IN A BUSTLING MANHATTAN BOUTIQUE, THE GAME OF COPS and robbers was playing itself out with the heart-pounding tension of a bungee jump. Hustle glanced over his shoulder as he walked between racks of...

Read the full excerpt
BACK

MEDIA

Watch

  • Janet McDonald reads from her book Harlem Hustle

    Listen to Janet McDonald introduce her young adult novel Harlem Hustle and then read an excerpt from the book. 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.

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Janet McDonald

  • Janet McDonald (1953-2007) was the author of three books set in the Brooklyn projects: Chill Wind, for which she received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; Spellbound, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; and Twists and Turns, an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and lived in Paris, France.

  • Janet McDonald Copyright Gwen Wock
BACK