Growing up in the heart of the Atlanta ghetto, siblings DeMarco and Jasmine Winslow have developed a talent for survival. But if given the chance, they would do anything for a fresh start. . . .
By the time DeMarco was fifteen, being locked up was better than being at home. So whenever he got hungry or cold or just plain tired of living in the ghetto, he'd steal something and make sure he got caught, 'cause going to juvie was like going to heaven: video games, basketball courts, a big screen television, and three hot meals a day. And now that he's back in the hood, things seem worse than before.
Jasmine, DeMarco's twin sister, hasn't had the luxury of vacationing in juvie. She's had to balance being an honor roll student with fighting off advances from her mother's boyfriend. After her mom sides with her boyfriend, Jasmine's out on the streets and running with the DIVAs, a rough group of girls whose number one goal is to get paid. But when Jasmine finally gets her chance to break free, she learns the hard way that no one leaves the hood unscathed. . . .
TWO THE HARD WAY
AT THE CROSSROADS
Sixteen-year-old twins DeMarco and Jasmine Winslow trade off narrating this story of teens who rise above tough circumstances, thanks largely to golden opportunities that fall in their laps. DeMarco and Jasmine live with their alcoholic mother and three-year-old brother in the Bluff, one of Atlanta's poorest neighborhoods. DeMarco is just getting out of juvie, where he's been sent 32 times in four years for petty theft, after letting himself get caught ("Three hot meals a day was like dying and going to heaven"). Jasmine, meanwhile, has just been kicked out after standing up to their mother's lecherous boyfriend; when she attends a superstar rapper's party, she meets a photographer who wants to make her a model. DeMarco's voice rings true as he tries to put together a life that doesn't involve illegal activity, something that gets harder when Jasmine gets stabbed. While Jasmine and DeMarco are easy enough to root for, the story's many wish-fulfillment elements and its fairy tale ending in which a teacher steps in to change DeMarco's life and Jasmine's modeling career takes off weaken its overall impact and believability. Ages 14 up.