Lauren's Reviews > After Tupac and D Foster

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
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Oct 17, 11

bookshelves: middle-grade, ya, grad-school-texts
Read from October 15 to 17, 2011

I wonder if I would have enjoyed this book more had I not just read One Crazy Summer or Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice. I thought those two books succeeded in areas that Tupac and D Foster didn’t.

One Crazy Summer had much stronger characterization than Tupac and D Foster. Both books centered on three girls and showed them in urban environments dealing with tough issues. I felt a much stronger connection to Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern than I did to unnamed narrator, Neeka, and D. I can’t get to the root of what motivates each girl in this book. What are they passionate about? What do they struggle with? The only character that I really feel like we get hints of is D. But I wouldn’t argue that she’s as fleshed out as Delphine or Fern. One reason for this is there were not any immediate conflicts in this book for a character to face. There weren’t any choices to make. Unnamed narrator didn’t face any challenges except perhaps leaving the block (which happened to be one of the most memorable moments for me). Tash’s big conflict was in the past and we witnessed the aftermath and resolution. We didn’t see what challenges Jayjones was up against in getting a basketball scholarship. D was perhaps the character we saw struggle most with her emotions and make the most choices, but I feel like I could have connected with her more if I saw her initial reactions to the challenges in her life. When she gets the news that she is leaving Flo and moving to the mountains with her mother, what did she do? Was she unnervingly calm or angry and shouting? When she roams, are there places that she gravitates towards? These are some little things that would have shown more insight into her character. Perhaps D Foster was supposed to be a bit of a mystery, but I needed a character to really connect with and I wasn’t getting that in this story on the same level as I did with One Crazy Summer.

I also thought Claudette Colvin did a better job of blending big historical events with the life of a teenager. I felt and saw the impact of the Civil Rights movement on Claudette’s teenage thoughts and feelings. The connection between Tupac and unnamed narrator wasn’t as strong. I think Woodson could have done a better job at this by using more of Tupac’s lyrics. Perhaps if the beginning of each chapter began with a few lines of one of Tupac’s songs, and then that chapter revealed through action and events why those lyrics spoke to the girls, we would have seen exactly why these girls felt that Tupac’s music spoke to them.
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