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Monday, December 21, 2020

Woodson's Newest a Poignant, Impactful Tale From a Mastery of Poetry and Prose

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the son of a beloved pro football star, Zachariah Johnson, Jr., is used to having a famous parent.  Not only is ZJ's dad charming with his fans, but at home he's the fun-loving guy who will chill with ZJ's friends and spend hours writing and strumming the guitar with ZJ.  Then, he changes.  It starts with headaches and confusion, then progresses to mood swings and memory loss.  The doctors diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a brain injury caused by all the concussions Zachariah senior has experienced on the football field over the years.  According to his medical team, nothing can be done to reverse the condition.  The loving, easy-going man ZJ has known all his life is gone forever, replaced by an angry stranger who doesn't always remember ZJ's name.  How will ZJ cope with his disheartening new normal?  Will his family ever again be the tight, anchoring unit it once was?  

I've been a big Jacqueline Woodson fan for years.  Her luminous prose and lyrical poetry create books that are beautiful, moving, and memorable.  Woodson's newest middle-grade offering, Before the Ever After, is no exception.  Written in verse, it's a slim volume but one that packs a definite punch.  Although it brings the dark side of fame to light, the story is really about a family and how they're all affected by a member's illness.  The tale also concerns life's unexpected, irreversible changes.  How do you move on when all you want to do is reverse time?  Before the Ever After is a poignant, touching tale featuring sympathetic characters, impactful writing, and a compelling conflict.  Like everything Woodson pens, it's a stick-with-you story, beautifully told.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing's coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for difficult subject matter and scary situations

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. Great review Susan. Jacqueline Woodson is a great author and one I always made sure we had copies of in our school library.

  2. I agree that Woodson's writing is well done and packs a punch. I haven't read this one but it sounds good.


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