Cover image for Twists and turns
Twists and turns
McDonald, Janet, 1953-2007.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : F. Foster Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
135 pages ; 22 cm
With the help of a couple of successful friends, eighteen- and nineteen-year-old Teesha and Keeba try to capitalize on their talents by opening a hair salon in the run-down Brooklyn housing project where they live.
Reading Level:
880 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.4 4.0 73774.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



The Washington sisters make good in the 'hood It may have taken them an extra year or two to do it, but the Washington sisters finally graduated high school, and this definitely calls for a celebration. But after the party ends, then what? The girls have no plans. Unlike their smart best friend Raven Jefferson, who's away at college, and their nerdy best friend Toya Larson, who's in computer training, and their overall best friend Aisha Ingram, who's rocking in TV commercials, Keeba and Teesha are still hanging out on neighborhood benches as if nothing's changed. Then an older friend convinces the sisters that they, too, have a skill -- braiding hair -- and why not make a business of it? With a loan from Aisha, the Washingtons open TeeKee's Tresses in a rented storefront, and the future looks pretty solid . . . that is, until a rival's jealousy, a landlord's greed, and a politician's scheme turn the sisters' world upside down. Janet McDonald introduces readers to two sisters who discover that all you have to do is stick together to handle life's many twists and turns.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7-12. Raucous and tender, harsh and hopeful, McDonald's latest fast-talking story about teen project girls in Brooklyn Heights focuses on the sisters, Keeba and Teesha. They have both finished high school, and avoided the traps of pregnancy, drugs, gangs, and crime. With the support of friends and the community, they start a small neighborhood hair salon. But business is slow, very slow; and, worse, there's a movement afoot to privatize the housing projects and move out the poor residents. As in Chill Wind (2001) and Spellbound (2002), the poetry and wit are in the daily details: the gossip on the benches, the home girls when they feel "premenstrual and mean." The salon is destroyed by vandals from the neighborhood where the sisters live and also by the landlords and politicians. Yet the story is inspiring--not because of a slick resolution or a heavy message, but because McDonald shows how hard things are, even as she tells a story of teens who find the strength in themselves and in those around them to rebuild and carry on. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Popular story lines continue in new novels this summer and fall. As in her previous novels, Chill Wind and Spellbound, Janet McDonald brings the dreams and personal battles of the Hillbrook Houses residents to life with Twists and Turns. This time, she focuses on Keeba and Teesha, two sisters who have just graduated from high school and have no solid plans for the future. When the girls decide to open a hair-braiding business, they discover that making a profit is more difficult than they had expected. The author offers an even balance of hardship and humor as the determined teens combat their many obstacles. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Keeba and Teesha Washington have just graduated from their Brooklyn high school. Their neighbor and friend Skye March, the local librarian, has moved from her middle-class condo into the projects. Her theory is that for inner-city teens to be a successes they need to see success. Hoping to keep the sisters from becoming part of the unemployed "bench generation," she floats the idea of opening a beauty salon. Since the girls are known locally for braiding hair and already have a following, the next natural step is to become businesswomen. Through a series of events, both fortuitous and devastating, the teens learn a number of life lessons, especially that, with the encouragement of family and friends, anything is possible. The prose contains plenty of street dialogue that most teens can readily relate to and the story has both humor and poignancy. The main characters exhibit both strengths and considerable vulnerability. This story shows readers that opportunities are open to everyone, including themselves.-Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Twists and Turns Twists And Turns 1 M usic thumped the walls like fists, pounding inside the Washingtons' apartment. Edwina Percy Washington was away at yet another weekend church function. And once again her daughters hadn't been able to go with her. Cramps, they said. As she always did, Mrs. Washington told them to rest, say their prayers at night, and invite only girls over if they wanted company And as they often did, Keeba and Teesha said, "Sure, Ma," and threw a loud, boisterous party with boys from all over Hillbrook Houses. Although a year younger, Teesha had graduated high school right alongside her sister. Teesha herself was a year behind, but Keeba had been held back a couple of grades and was the oldest graduate in the class. You'd never know it from their marks, but the Washington sisterswere bright, each in her own way. Teesha liked anything with numbers--math puzzles, arithmetic board games, or just playing with a calculator. Keeba preferred imitating characters she saw on TV and in movies and could repeat their lines by heart. They simply weren't motivated to study, or even to attend class regularly. It was as though something else was beckoning to them. Still, they'd managed to get their diplomas and both of them were proud. Finishing school wasn't all they were celebrating, though. Their smartest best friend, Raven Jefferson, was home for the summer from college; their nerdiest best friend, Toya Larson, had been accepted into a computer training program; and their overall best friend, Aisha Ingram, was making mad cash doing TV commercials. Hillbrook girls were on a roll. The living room was bathed in pink from lightbulbs the sisters had colored red with magic markers. On the kitchen table sat Mrs. Washington's new punch bowl, which Keeba had taken from its box and filled with grape Kool-Aid. Around the bowl were placed a half dozen oblong glass platters, dishware their mother said was reserved strictly for church dinners, now piled high with bright orange Cheez Doodles. Earlier in the day, Teesha had gone to the grocery store to buy food for the party. Determined to stretch the weekend grocery money as far as she could, she saw little sense, once she'd found her favorite item on sale, in buying anything else. Pointing to the expiration date, thecashier had asked if Teesha was sure she wanted the six jumbo-paks. Most definitely, Teesha said. After all, Cheez Doodles didn't get old. For her part, Keeba had done the cleaning. In a manner of speaking, that is. She threw some water on the dirty dishes, kicked some magazines and newspapers strewn on the floor under the couch, and ran her hand over the furniture, collecting giant fluffy dustballs that she tossed out the window. The party was pumping. Everybody was in a sweat, even with the windows open, and voices filled the night. People had gathered in a circle as the sisters and their main girls boogied through a series of old-time, played-out dances. "The Worm!" shouted Keeba, sliding her neck from side to side. Teesha danced over to her sister, mirroring her moves. Then Teesha called for the Bounce. Like a gym class doing shoulder raises, the teens bounced their shoulders up and down in rhythm to Missy Elliott's smooth beats. "Ah-ight, y'all," shouted Aisha, "check this out, the Electric Slide on wheels!" On her skates, she took three steps to the left and three to the right, leaned backward, then bent forward into a front wheel spin, all without missing a beat. Kids lined up behind her and soon the entire living room was electric-sliding. "Damn, Aisha, you rock!" exclaimed her ex-boyfriend, Kevin Winker "Nah, brother, she rules," said her current boyfriend, Max Payne. "My girl Ai can do on skates what I can't even do on my feet," said Raven as she stumbled into the forward dip, almost falling. Her fiancé, Jesse Honoré, caught her just in time. Not to be outdone, since the party was supposed to be for her too, Toya broke away from the line dance to do her specialty, the Booty. Rolling her hips back and forth, she eased down in slow motion and rose up again to the chant of "Go, Toya! Go, Toya! Go! Go! Go!" Bodies rocked and rolled in rhythm, and in the middle of the writhing mass Keeba was working her hips against a boy in an FDNY cap. For the party, Teesha had put a lot of effort into getting Keeba's hair exactly right: braided to the base of her neck, the rest left to hang loose down her back. The boy dancing with her wanted a touch. "I don't think so, Arkim Hamilton. You out your mind? Nobody puts their hands on my hair but my sister," declared Keeba. "Wassup with that? It ain't like the cowboy never touched that horse's tail." "What?! No, you didn't say my braids came off no horse, Arkvark! This hair is pure human." Arkim was doubled over laughing. "You always think you funnier than you ain't," she said. Keeba swept her hair over one shoulder and walked off. She was laughing too, but she .wouldn't let Arkim see her doing it. He was so stoopid! A horse! Nobody had invited him anyway He just always showed up because he lived upstairs. "Then let me touch that bootylicious," he called after her. Lately, Keeba had skated less and eaten more than her sister, Teesha, who had transformed her "booty body" into a lean, sexy physique. But Keeba wasn't jealous. If she saw her sister preening at the mirror, she'd push her aside to admire her own image and would break into her favorite line from the Sir Mix-A-Lot rap classic, "Even white boys got to shout, Baby got back!" It didn't matter that Teesha smirked and said Sir Mix-A-Lot was so over . What did bother Keeba was when her sister treated her like she was stupid, going "Duh!" every time she said something that might be a little wak. Being older, she wanted her kid sister to look up to and even admire her, at least a little bit. But Teesha did take up for her whenever anybody else dissed her, which was cool. Max was deep into Keeba's dance moves. "Don't hurt nobody Kee!" Noticing where Max's eyes were fixed, Aisha snatched him around. "I'ma hurt you in a minute if you don't stop eyeballingKee's butt. Remember that movie where the lady poured boiling hot grits on her man because he was creeping with somebody else? Ah-ight then, watch ya back." She kissed his cheek. Max shook his head. "That wasn't a movie, Ai. That was what really happened to that old R&B singer Al Green." "Oh yeah, that's right! Well anyway, you better get out the cocoa butter 'cause them grits gon' burn." Meanwhile, Teesha was getting her own groove on. Dancing in the center of a group, her hair styled by Keeba in a crown of thick, loose twists, Teesha looked very much the part of reigning queen. She gave herself the role of keeping their parties in line and her subjects in order. A few rude people had something nasty to say about the food, but she let them know straight up where to find the nearest McDonald's. And when a couple of boys complained she never had anything "for the head," she directed them to the bedroom where the pillows were. It was one thing to let people bring their own liquor, but other stuff was too crazy. At lot of kids went downhill fast messing with drugs. And anyway, she wasn't about to give the Housing Authority an excuse to put. them out of the projects. Despite the limited munchies and the drug ban, Teesha felt the evening was a hit and that she and her sister were still at the top of the project party scene. But not everyone was having a good time. An unlikely pair stood next to each other in the kitchen. One of thetwo, Ashley Honoré, was decked out in a turquoise silk blouse and black silk slacks. A recent graduate from an exclusive women's college on her way to business school, Ashley had never been in the projects before and would have kept it that way had her younger brother, Jesse, not dragged her there. He planned to marry Raven, a Hillbrook girl, and wanted his sister to get over her snobbery issues about project people. Beside Ashley, swimming in gigantic red jeans and a matching sweatshirt and wearing slip-on gold teeth, was Kevin's girlfriend, Shaniqua Page. She was tossing her blond extensions and glaring. Ashley spoke directly into the project girl's ear to make herself audible above the music. "Why you gotta scream in my ear?" snapped Shaniqua. "I ain't deaf!" " Sorry. The song's a little loud." "What song? Ain't no song playin'. That's rap ." "Oh. Whatever. I was just saying I'm somewhat out of my element here. Are you from this neighborhood too?" " Hell no, I ain't from these punk-ass projects. I'm from the Fort." "The Fort? " "Sho'nuff! Fort Crest lays 'em and slays 'em, we yokes 'em and smokes 'em!" Ashley raised her eyes to the ceiling as if making a silent plea. "Uh-huh. Okay. Well, I'm here with my brother, Jesse, who's with his ... uh ... date." "You mean that girl Raven? They s'pose to be hookin' up, right?" "Please." Ashley sighed. "Don't remind me. Yes, they're getting married. Anyway, this scene is so new to me. We're not from the area." She was beginning to feel lightheaded. She'd skipped dinner, expecting there'd be lots of home-cooked food, which she had looked forward to as a nice change from eating out all the time. But ages had passed and nothing had been brought out. "Is there going to be something to eat later? I'm starved! And this drink is so sweet it has to be a diabetes risk. I mean, there's nothing in it but sugar, with some water and purple coloring. It's like drinking grape syrup. Gross." With that, she emptied her Kool-Aid down the drain. Shaniqua was keeping an eye on her man and hardly listening to this lame girl who put the stuck in stuck-up. But when she saw what Ashley had done, she turned her full attention on the student like a high beam of hot, blinding light. "Why you dump the Kool-Aid out--you sick? Ain't a damn thing wrong with it. I woulda drunk it. Everybody know you gotta let the ice melt to water it down so it ain't too sweet." She frowned at the purple stain in the sink. "What a waste. Here, eat some Cheez Doodles if you so hungry." Ashley, flinched. "No, merci, I've been stuffing my face with those stale things all night. Isn't there anything else? I don't know," she said, her tone becoming sarcastic, "maybe a potato chip or a pretzel to mix it up a little?" Shaniqua ignored her and Ashley looked again toward the ceiling. "I'm dead," the college girl murmured under her breath. "I died and went to ghetto hell." Shaniqua overheard and was not having it. "What you talkin' 'bout, Ashy?" "Ash ley ..." "You not in no ghetto . These the projects ." Suddenly Ashley felt nervous. She sure didn't want to get on the wrong side of this homegirl, who seemed awfully dangerous and so easily provoked. "Hey, I really didn't mean to offend, really, Shamika ..." "I told you my name Sha- ni -qua, like Taniqua only with a 'sha,'" she said, pushing up the arm of her sweatshirt to reveal her name tattooed on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, truly I am ... Sha- ni -qua. Please just ignore anything I say. It's the hunger and fatigue. I'm sure you and your friends are as nice as ... anyone." "These bozos ain't my friends. Why you think I'm in this kitchen with you?!" Ashley noted with annoyance that Shaniqua said "you" as if she were describing the last wretch on the planet. Her eyes quickly scanned the crowd. Where was Jesse? "Take Miss Ice Capades over there," Shaniqua continued, gesturing toward Aisha, who'd removed her skates and was leaning against Max. "I don't care how muchbank she get off them tired TV commercials, she still wak, clunkin' around on four wheels when everybody else rockin' blades! She can't stand me because I took her man Kev. The cute one with the Knicks cap. Over by the window, see him? We together now So that's what that's about. Ain't no friends of mine up in here, and that's word. Me and the rest of these hoes, we like grease and water." "Oil and water," Ashley mumbled. Then she said out loud, "I see what you mean, absolutely, and am so down with you on that." She felt she'd taken enough abuse from this ruffian, who probably didn't even have her GED. "Well, better go check on my little brother. Nice meeting you." Shaniqua looked Jesse's sister up and down without answering. She took a handful of Cheez Doodles and pushed them into her mouth. A light dusting of orange powder was left clinging to her chin. Ashley squeezed through the crowded hallway and pushed her way into the jammed living room, fleeing Shaniqua as much as seeking Jesse. Copyright © 2003 by Janet McDonald All rights reserved Excerpted from Twists and Turns by Janet McDonald All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.