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Before the Ever After Hardcover – 1 September 2020

4.7 out of 5 stars 328 ratings

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Product description

Review

* “Woodson's text may be spare, but it has the emotional wallop of an offensive tackle.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review

*
“Woodson’s latest novel in verse conveys that not all success stories have a fairy-tale ending. Readers will feel an immediate connection to ZJ and his group of authentic, complex friends and family. The idea of showing the dark side of fame through the experiences of a young family member is a unique perspective that will resonate with readers of all ages. ZJ’s story will stay with the audience long after the last page is read. A first choice for all collections. A unique take on sports and fame told from an unexpected perspective, and another incredible read ­delivered by Woodson.”—School Library Journal, starred review

*
“Using spare and lyrical language for ZJ’s present-tense narration, which moves back and forth through time, Woodson skillfully portrays the confusion, fear, and sadness when a family member suffers from brain injury and the personality changes it brings. . . . The well-rounded secondary characters complete a mosaic of a loving African American family and their community of friends. . . . A poignant and achingly beautiful narrative shedding light on the price of a violent sport.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*
“Woodson delivers a poignant new novel in verse that highlights an important topic within the sports world, especially football. . . . ZJ’s life quickly turns from charmed to tragic as he has to face that his father and family are forever changed. . . . Woodson again shows herself to be a masterful writer, and her meaningful exploration of concussions and head injuries in football, a subject rarely broached in middle-grade fiction, provides young athletes with necessary insights into sport's less glamorous side. In addition to this, it is a novel that explores family, mental illness, and the healing that a tight-knit, loving community can provide.”—Booklist, starred review

*
“Woodson explores the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on football players and their families from the perspective of ZJ, son of tight end Zachariah ‘44’ Johnson. . . . In lyrical verse, Woodson conveys the confusion and loss that many families feel as they try to figure out what is wrong with their loved one. Each of the poems ably captures the voice of the story’s preteen boy protagonist; readers can feel the sense of love and loss that ZJ is experiencing as his dad slips away. Even though that loss is difficult, Woodson reminds readers that life’s challenges are more easily faced with the support of friends and famiy.”—Horn Book, starred review

*
“A beautiful and heart-wrenching story. . . . Eloquent prose poetry creates a moving narrative that reveals the grief of a child trying to understand why his father has changed and why nothing can be done. An ardent account of the multitudes of losses experienced by those who suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy and its effects on their families, ZJ's doleful tale unveils the intense nostalgia and hope one can feel despite realizing that sometimes what is lost can never be regained."—Publishers Weekly, starred review 

“This is a heartbreaking tale brimming with sympathy, and it draws much of its impact from the characterization of Zachariah’s father; while the portrait is obviously burnished by ZJ’s hero worship, it’s also clear that Zachariah Senior is a man of deep kindness and generosity who loves his son greatly, and whose decline leaves a huge hole in his fiercely close African-American family. ZJ’s move toward music and his increasing reliance on his friends are age-appropriate shifts that have particular poignance given the situation. While the football and CTE elements give this resonance for young athletes, many readers will be sadly familiar with the painful waning of a family member, and they’ll be heartened by ZJ’s love and resilience.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

About the Author

Jacqueline Woodson (www.jacquelinewoodson.com) is the recipient of a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children's Literature Legacy Award. She was the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and in 2015, she was named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, and a Sibert Honor. She wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She is the author of dozens of award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include Coretta Scott King Award winner Before the Ever AfterNew York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me; The Other Side, Each Kindness, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; and Miracle's Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award. Jacqueline is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature and a two-time winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nancy Paulsen Books (1 September 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 176 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0399545433
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0399545436
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10 - 14 years
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 272 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 14.94 x 1.83 x 21.74 cm
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 328 ratings

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Jacqueline Woodson's memoir BROWN GIRL DREAMING won the 2014 National Book Award and was a NY Times Bestseller. Her novel, ANOTHER BROOKLYN, was a National Book Award finalist and an Indie Pick in 2016. Among her many awards, she the recipient of the Kurt Vonnegut Award, four Newbery Honors, two Coretta Scott King Award, and the Langston Hughes Medal. Jacqueline is the author of nearly thirty books for young people and adults including EACH KINDNESS, IF YOU COME SOFTLY, LOCOMOTION and I HADN'T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS. She served as Young People's Poet Laureate from 2014-2016, was a fellow at The American Library in Paris, occasionally writes for the New York Times, is currently working on more books and like so many writers - lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
328 global ratings
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Top review from India

Reviewed in India on 15 September 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best middle grade book of 2020!!!
By Reading_Tam_Ishly on 15 September 2020
This book talks about the late 90s and early 2000s and tells the story of ZJ whose father is a popular football player in those times.

His dad began losing his memories, started losing his abilities to perform his daily activities gradually. He began experiencing severe headaches, mood swings, confusion, depression and aggression which became very difficult for young ZJ and his mother to cope.

But I love how ZJ's mother being the strong woman she's, never letting the situation disrupt the family's harmony and playing a strong parent for ZJ.

I love how the words in verse described the pain and agony of not only gradually losing the prestige, the popularity, the adoration for someone who used to be so popular as experienced by the father who's suffering from Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition unknown during those days.

I love how supportive the friends, the relatives and the community are in the story. ZJ's friends are the best! Love how adorable these kids are!

A heart-wrenching but a beautiful, hopeful read I definitely am putting this book in my list of best middle grade books ever!

I love the author's note towards the end of the book describing the condition ZJ's father was going through, the same brain disease affecting boxers.

CTE, a degenerative brain disease is generally found in sportsmen who have suffered repeated blows to the head. There's still no cure but yes, thorough research throughout the years have shown some clarity to the condition.

Such an insightful and informative read. Amazing middle grade book!

One of the best 2020 releases 💯
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Top reviews from other countries

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars NFL Father's Memories going from the eyes of a Child
Reviewed in the United States on 21 September 2020
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gayle h. swift
5.0 out of 5 stars A pro football player’s real success is his family
Reviewed in the United States on 15 May 2021
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One person found this helpful
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Afoma
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Reviewed in the United States on 18 February 2021
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Cameron Mullen
5.0 out of 5 stars A poignant story of a boy's love for his father
Reviewed in the United States on 29 October 2020
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Ceal S.
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely
Reviewed in the United States on 3 July 2021
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