Megan Palasik's Reviews > The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White

The Hustle by Doug Merlino
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's review
Feb 19, 2011

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bookshelves: first-reads
Read from January 29 to February 17, 2011

I won this book as a first-read giveaway.

This book was not what I expected. I thought this would be your stereotypical story of a group of boys brought together by some controversy (in this case race) to play some sports team (basketball) and no one thought they could do it but in the end they are champions. The end. Well, that story is only the first 80 pages of this book.

The rest of the book is devoted to the author, who was one of the players, going back and interviewing his teammates and finding out, not only what they remember about that season, but also what they've been doing since then. This book does not read like an interview though, it reads like a journalistic, non-fiction book.

After the story of the championship season, the author goes back through the lives of his teammates. But he doesn't just pick one person and tell their story; he picks things that happened in history (drugs of the 90s, religion, the school they went to), tells those events, and how ultimately they effected his teammates. I have to admit, that this style of writing, while more interesting and historical, was very confusing for me. I never quite grasped who was who and which teammate was which when the author would talk about them for a page, then move onto someone else and so on. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like I needed a picture of each player with a name and brief history somewhere to reference back to.

I found the last section of the book, which was about the schools, particularly interesting. I work in a school system and enjoyed hearing the history of the schools and how they have moved along through history, even up to 2 years ago!

Overall, while this book was not what I expected, it was well written. I think part of my expectation came from the book jacket description, which, in my opinion, played up the story of the boys, and not as much about the rest of the book. Good debut novel from a journalistic point of view.
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01/29/2011 page 52
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