A Hustler's Wife
by Nikki Turner
Fifteen year old Yarni Pitman is just a sweet and innocent high school student trying to get an education and go the distance. Yarni dresses well for her age, and she's captain of the cheer squad. One fateful evening, Yarni's friend Melanie comes over with her brother's phone book with numbers of the "big dogs" that run the streets and the game in town. The girls dial up the biggest of the dogs, Des, and for Yarni, everything changes. Yarni and Des develop instant attraction and a love story like no other. Fast forward to Yarni's last day of high school, and she finds herself in a courtroom where her now husband is being sentenced to life in prison. Yarni learns how hard it is to be the wife of a hustler when her only provider is put behind bars.
Elements of Urban Fiction:
* Disclaimer: I did some searching online to find these elements because our course textbook wasn't very helpful in this genre (or subgenre?) They will be cited below! *
Pacing - The pacing in this story is pretty fast with a lot of flashbacks.
Characterization - The protagonists in this genre are typically young, ages 19-25 (Street Lit LibGuide). Yarni is 15 and in high school. She is very strong minded and independent despite how innocent she is. Yarni's mother Gloria is another character that gets plenty of "screen time" during this story. Gloria is a single mother who owns a catering business and has set out to provide Yarni with the best life, spoiling her but raising her to have a strong backbone and to be able to stand on her own. Des is a drug king-pin that is very well known around the area and is known to kill anyone who does him wrong during a drug or gambling deal. But when it comes to Yarni, Des is a teddy bear and loves her so much and only wants what is best for her
Storyline - The storyline contains content during present time and flashbacks to when Yarni first met Des and how taken she was with him and he with her. The story heavily focuses on Yarni's relationship with Des, as well as her mother, Gloria (Street Lit LibGuide).
Modern References - A Hustler's Wife makes many references to brand-name items (Street Lit LibGuide). Yarni carries a lot of brand-name purses like Gucci and Liz Claiborne. Des drives an old diesel Mercedes Benz, and he buys Yarni an old brand-name vehicle called Sterling but Yarni actually prefers a BMW. Des also rewards Yarni with gifts of jewelry and fancy things whenever she does well in school.
Urban Environment - This novel shows a lot of focus on "the streets", where a lot of business is conducted right out in the open or in hidden alleyways (Street Lit Libguide). There is a lot of focus about the residences within Richmond. Des himself lives in a nice modern apartment on the West side of Richmond but he comes from and knows the projects. Yarni lives in a wealthy suburb called Richmond Hills. Despite both characters living in nice places, they are not unaware of the poverty and street crime that happens around them daily.
Writing Style - Urban fiction is usually written in first person or the narration alternates between different characters (Urban Lit YA). Yarni is the main narrator but the writing will quickly jump to the thoughts of Gloria, Des, or sometimes Des's mother Joyce. A lot of slang is used in this novel, including the N word. The author doesn't shy away from use of curse words.
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Humphrey, J. (2017). About street lit. Retrieved from http://durhamtech.libguides.com/streetlit
Urban fiction. (2017). Characteristics. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/urbanlitya/about-genre