Before the Ever After [electronic resource] / Jacqueline Woodson

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    • Abstract:
      Summary: National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring novel explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed. 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?
    • Notes:
      Adobe EPUB eBook ebook-epub-adobe 5489
    • ISBN:
    • Accession Number:
  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      WOODSON, J. Before the Ever After. [electronic resource]. [s. l.]: Penguin Young Readers Group, 2020. ISBN 9780399545450. Disponível em: Acesso em: 22 out. 2020.
    • AMA:
      Woodson J. Before the Ever After. [Electronic Resource]. Penguin Young Readers Group; 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
    • APA:
      Woodson, J. (2020). Before the Ever After. [electronic resource]. Penguin Young Readers Group.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Woodson, Jacqueline. 2020. Before the Ever After. [Electronic Resource]. Penguin Young Readers Group.
    • Harvard:
      Woodson, J. (2020) Before the Ever After. [electronic resource]. Penguin Young Readers Group. Available at: (Accessed: 22 October 2020).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Woodson, J 2020, Before the Ever After. [electronic resource], Penguin Young Readers Group, viewed 22 October 2020, .
    • MLA:
      Woodson, Jacqueline. Before the Ever After. [Electronic Resource]. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2020. EBSCOhost,
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Woodson, Jacqueline. Before the Ever After. [Electronic Resource]. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2020.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Woodson J. Before the Ever After. [electronic resource] [Internet]. Penguin Young Readers Group; 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 22]. Available from:


Booklist Reviews 2020 July #1

*Starred Review* Woodson delivers a poignant new novel in verse that highlights an important topic within the sports world, especially football. Zacharias Johnson, Jr. (aka ZJ) is the son of a football star. The world adores him, and to that outside world ZJ, his dad, and the rest of his family enjoy a charmed life. However, outside of the spotlight, things aren't as perfect as they appear. ZJ's father is having health issues from repeated hard hits and head injuries while playing pro. He struggles with headaches, anger, and heartbreaking memory loss. Between the myriad doctor visits, medications, and medical tests, ZJ's life quickly turns from charmed to tragic as he has to face that his father and family are forever changed. ZJ initially fights his new reality and must learn to lean on family, friends, and the support of his community in his grief in order to move forward. 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.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: It's Jacqueline Woodson! Her name alone draws a crowd, but the publisher is doubling down with extensive marketing plans. Grades 5-8. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2020 #5

In her latest novel in verse, Woodson (Locomotion, rev. 3/03; Brown Girl Dreaming, rev. 9/14) 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. The novel opens in 1999 and flashes forward in time to what ZJ calls the "ever after," then fills in what happened in between. In life before the ever after, ZJ and his friends watched his daddy on TV on Sundays. He remembers listening to music and making up songs with his father. But then slowly things change. Daddy isn't playing as much. His hands shake. His head hurts. He can't remember things. On the eve of the new millennium, ZJ's world changes completely when his dad yells at him and his friends, not remembering who they are. Then the headaches and forgetfulness become more frequent. Doctor visits and tests are a new way of life, with very few answers. 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 family. Nicholl Denice Montgomery September/October 2020 p.107 Copyright 2020 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

PW Reviews 2020 August #2

National Book Award winner Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming) provides a beautiful and heart-wrenching story in her latest middle grade novel. Twelve-year-old Zachariah "ZJ" Johnson Jr.'s pro-football player father has always been hailed as an American hero and a loving husband and father. Slowly, though, he begins to become forgetful and even shout "at people when/ you were never the kind of guy/ to yell before." Starting in 1999, ZJ leads readers on a journey through memories of a time before his father's persistent headaches kept him from playing football, when he still loved music and wrote songs with ZJ, and into the "ever after," when he sometimes forgets even ZJ's name. 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. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.