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WINNER OF THE NAACP IMAGE AWARDWINNER OF THE CORETTA SCOTT KING AUTHOR AWARD National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies. Cover may vary. For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that--but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can't remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?
- ISBN-13: 9780399545436
- ISBN-10: 0399545433
- Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
- Publish Date: September 2020
- Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.66 pounds
- Page Count: 176
- Reading Level: Ages 10-UP
Before the Ever After
Jacqueline Woodson’s Before the Ever After places professional football’s concussion epidemic front and center.
ZJ had it all: musical talent, a solid group of friends, a strong, supportive mom and a famous football-player dad he adored. But that was before. Before his dad’s hands began to tremble. Before his dad’s memory began to fade. When his father is diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease caused by the multiple concussions he experienced on the playing field, ZJ must face the prospect of losing his father and the relationship he holds most dear.
Award-winning author Woodson tells ZJ’s story in intimate, compelling poems that slip through time. We see ZJ as a small child riding on his father’s shoulders, far above the fray of reporters and fans. We hear their heart-to-heart conversations, listen to ZJ’s dad muse on his love for football and watch as the cracks and fissures of memory loss, anger and confusion creep into their idyllic life.
A stirring, character-driven novel in verse, Before the Ever After doesn’t sugarcoat harsh realities but addresses them with considered care and optimism. Woodson is far too adept a storyteller to directly answer many of the questions she raises, but ZJ’s quiet resilience and the network of nurturing figures who surround him suggest a path lit by glimmers of hope.