November 2003

Sisters in transition

By Janet McDonald
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Fresh out of high school, Keeba and Teesha Washington have no plans for the future. These sassy sisters, who star in Twists and Turns, Janet McDonald's terrific new coming-of-age novel, live in Brooklyn Heights and watch from the sidelines as their friends find their fortunes. Despite the challenges of life in the projects, Aisha is making some serious money with her TV commercials. Raven had a baby in high school, but her mother is raising the infant while she is away at college. Toya, their brainy friend, is getting a degree at a tech school so she can work with computers. Meanwhile, Keeba and Teesha spend their time listening to music and throwing loud but innocent parties, complete with Cheez Doodles and grape Kool-Aid.

Mrs. Washington is proud of her girls, but she knows they can do more. When she learns that her daughters have finally come up with a plan for the future, her spirits soar. For years, the girls have been braiding hair for friends. With a little help from Aisha, they turn their talent into a money-making enterprise and open a storefront business called TeeKee's Tresses. Do-gooder librarian Skye March, who recently moved into the neighborhood from a tony suburb, also helps the girls get started.

But things are a little harder than the young entrepreneurs anticipated. The details of paperwork prove to be daunting. And when a freewheeling politician encourages the gentrification of their neighborhood, rents are raised. Soon, the girls are faced with more challenges than ever before.

Award-winning author Janet McDonald, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, does a remarkable job of capturing the feel of this struggling community. Her portrayal of young girls on the edge of adulthood seems just right. One minute the sisters are daydreaming about dating hip-hop stars, and the next they are faced with difficult decisions about life and work.

McDonald has created two true-to-life teenagers that readers can really cheer for. Twists and Turns is an uplifting look at life in the projects and the real people who live there and love it.

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Twists and Turns

Twists and Turns

By Janet McDonald
Farrar, Straus
ISBN 9780374399559

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