An interesting way to wrap up Black History Month for avid readers is to check out Doug Merlino’s first book, The Hustle. I think that some of the best creative nonfiction comes from writers who draw on their own life experiences to tell their own personal truth. This is probably why memoirs like Jeanette Wall’s The Glass Castle and Marvelyn Brown’s The Naked Truth rate pretty high on my personal reading list. The Hustle now holds place in their ranks, as well.
There’s basketball, race relations, small slices of American history and 1980’s language, music and clothing – all things that are near and dear to me. Being a child of the ’80’s, I could easily identify with the talk of Air Jordans “with the red swoop”, Run DMC and The Fat Boyz – and the unspoken tension of bearing the weight of the Civil Rights Movement and the progress of diversity in America on our young shoulders.
Children of the 1980’s were a new generation for a new America – and Doug Merlino eloquently tells the tale of one group of black and white boys who form a league basketball team, an experiment designed to expose inner city kids to a world of privilege and elite private school students access to a different side of life. Merlino was one of those privileged youth – and he tells a gripping story of what occurred in the lives of each member of the 1986 team and how the color of their skin affected their lives.
I laughed, cried, got angry and spent a lot of time in thought – which, to me, are all evidence of having read a really good book.