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Before the Ever After

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  7,031 ratings  ·  1,292 reviews
Jacqueline Woodson's novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies.

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
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Hardcover, 161 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Popular Answered Questions
Alli The Book Giraffe He changes over the course of the book. I think by the end he is 12.
Diana Fisher I’m no expert but I’d say more middle grade than YA. Grades 5-9?

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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  7,031 ratings  ·  1,292 reviews


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emma
I like football.

This is somehow both one of the most embarrassing and most surprising things about me. I am doomed to an existence of not only knowing the names of coaches and players on my favorite team (cough, go Birds, cough), but of being eternally condescended to when every single man I have ever encountered finds out I know these names.

I receive the equivalent of a pat on the head and a Dum-Dum pop, every time.

Anyway. I do enjoy football, perhaps too much, but it is the worst sport in exis
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Bookishrealm
4.5 Stars. I'm telling ya'll Jacqueline Woodson can do no wrong

Before the Ever After is such a short novel (under 200 pages) but holy crap does it pack a punch. I first became aware of CTE after watching Concussion with Will Smith. When I realized that Woodson was telling a fictionalized account of CTE I knew that it would be a book that I needed to pick up. However, what is so interesting about this book is that Woodson takes the opportunity to show the reader how CTE affects family members spe
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Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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'
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Brina
The calendar is about to turn to September. Leaves are starting to fall from the giant tree in our front yard, days are slowly becoming shorter, and in the mornings there is a crisp feel in the air marking an upcoming change in season. That can only mean one thing: football season. In this unprecedented year with sports adapting to changes as well as every facet of society, the NFL is about to embark to play a complete season. There are political undertones that make this year feel different, bu ...more
Julie
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
Heartbreaking and hopeful. This is a story of a resilient family coping with change and loss due to the father's CTE. The story is told through the perspective of the son, ZJ. He recalls memories of happier times and talks of coming to terms with the circumstances of what is now. I loved how the mom cared for the dad and encouraged ZJ to find a new way to connect with his dad through music. ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
5 stars

Not unlike the rest of Woodson's books, I rate this one highly. Woodson tends to write about up-to-date issues that affect people. This book is written in verse - similar to many individual connecting poems that tell one continual story.

ZJ lives through the process of his Dad losing his football career to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, better known as CTE. He sees his Dad go from a hero to a man he barely knows, and much less understands. It tells how the family adapts to a change that
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Bethany
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-authors
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

A beautiful and heartbreaking story told in verse about a professional football player experiencing degenerative symptoms of CTE from repeated head injuries and the impact it has on his son. Told through the perspective of ZJ we experience what this is like for a child seeing his father change, forget things, experience mood swings, and become unpredictable. Woodson's prose is stunning and poignant, telling a story of the impact the lack of transparency surrounding this i
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Regina
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Before the Ever After" is a 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards finalist in the Best Middle Grade & Children's category.

Woodson's novel-in-verse tells the story of a young boy, ZJ, (aged approx. 9 - 12 throughout) who's struggling to understand his father's descent from star NFL player to man suffering from traumatic brain injury. Author Woodson was wise to set it in the '90s, when not much was known about the chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by hard-hitting days playing (American) football. T
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Bkwmlee
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
5 stars!

Jacqueline Woodson is a renowned author whose works I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, but unfortunately, never got around to doing so. Luckily for me, a few days ago, my library hold for Woodson’s newly published novel, Before the Ever After , came through, so I decided to clear my schedule and read it immediately. Since I jumped into this one so quickly, I didn’t realize it was novel-in-verse format until I opened up to the first page. I had just finished Elizabeth Aceved
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Pernille Ripp
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what can I say as far as Jacqueline Woodson’s forthcoming middle grade novel that will get across just how incredible it is? Because I had to sit and hold it for awhile last night when I finished it, because I could so deeply feel the confusion and longing from ZJ, because I could feel the love surrounding him from his friends, because I knew as a reader what was happening to his dad and how devastating it is, and yet, this book is about love, family, hope, football, and everything else tha ...more
Toya (the reading chemist)
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up!


I was blown away when I read Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson earlier this year, so when I heard about Before the Ever After, I jumped at the opportunity to read it.

A lyrical novel written in verse, this middle grade novel follows the life of 12 years old ZJ who is the son of Zachariah the professional football player.

The story starts off as ZJ reminiscing all of the amazing memories he has of his dad playing football and interacting with him and his friends. However,
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Jonathan K
Feb 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Referred by the GR list that was associated to the Nic Stone book, Dear Justyce, while its well written it bears little resemblance. A young boy copes with the injuries dealt his father in pro football while leaning on his best friends and family for support. Written in a lyrical style, it's short and to the point but pales in comparison to 'Dear Justyce' which is a 5 star, top notch story.

"And that's all I'm going to say about that".. Forrest Gump
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Abby Johnson
This is a special book. And I say that as a member of Jacqueline Woodson's Newbery Committee for Brown Girl Dreaming, so you know that all her books are special to me. This book is special.

ZJ misses his dad. His dad isn't gone, but lately his head has been hurting and he's been confused and sometimes aggressive. Sometimes he can't remember who ZJ is. He hasn't been able to play on his football team for a long time. He had the career he always dreamed of, got to be a famous football star, but at
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Read In Colour
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Trust Jacqueline Woodson, national treasure that she is, to have you smiling and crying within moments of the other and leave you feeling hopeful even in the most dire of circumstances. Her latest, Before the Ever After, explores the story of a family affected by CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Written in the verse format she's come to be known for, Woodson's beautiful words take readers on a journey of how it feels to watch your world crumble through a child's eyes.

As Zachariah "44" John
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Darla
This new novel in verse from Jacqueline Woodson does not disappoint. Definitely one of my favorites and ranks right up there with "Brown Girl Dreaming" for me.

We come from the mountain, living on the mountain. Go back to the mountain, turn the world around.

Zachariah watches his once invincible father deal with CTE. He questions his own identity if his own father can't remember him. Wishes for "used to be" when his daddy was whole. Rejoices in the friendship of Ollie, Darry, and Daniel -- his bo
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Kate Olson
Absolutely phenomenal. I know 5th - 8th graders will be ALL OVER THIS verse novel and I can’t wait to booktalk it.
Josiah
Mar 26, 2021 rated it liked it
By the time Before the Ever After made its way onto bookstore shelves in 2020, Jacqueline Woodson had long ago become a legend. Winner of more major awards than I can recall—including four Newbery Honors between 2006 and 2015—Ms. Woodson is one of the most celebrated children's and YA authors of her era, a master of poetic, emotionally charged narrative. As twelve-year-old ZJ Johnson reflects back on the past two years, he can see when his old life started to go awry. Everything seemed so innoce ...more
Mid-Continent Public Library
Now that the NFL is back in action, here is a book that packs an extra punch. This new novel in verse from Jacqueline Woodson does not disappoint. Definitely one of my favorites and ranks right up there with "Brown Girl Dreaming" for me.

We come from the mountain, living on the mountain. Go back to the mountain, turn the world around.

Zachariah watches his once invincible father deal with CTE. He questions his own identity if his own father can't remember him. Wishes for "used to be" when his dad
...more
Andre
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jacqueline Woodson's newest book Before the Ever After is a masterpiece. ZJ and his family and friends will stay with you long after you turn the final page. Football may be the hook but the characters and the poetic language are the true touchdown in this beautiful book. I cannot wait to share it with kids soon! ...more
Jessica Haider
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
-Quick read about a boy and his dad who is a professional football player who winds up with a brain injury, CTE.
-Told in verse.
-emotional with an important message, like all Woodson books that I've read
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Nabilah Firdaus
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the second book I’ve read of Jacqueline Woodson and like Red at the Bone, this too was a showcase of Woodson’s command of language and literary prowess.

“All those times he got knocked down and knocked out, my daddy kept getting up but maybe some part of him stayed on the ground.”

Written in lyrical verse, Before the Ever After follows the story of ZJ, dealing with the change that has been happening to his dad, Zachariah, a professional football player. ZJ’s dad, who was once a cheerful, e
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Ms. Yingling
May 27, 2020 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus



Zachariah Johnson, Jr. has always been proud of his pro football playing father, even though he is more interested in music and poetry. He loves the adulation his father gets from their town and his friends Daniel, Darry, and Oliver, and just has a great time hanging out with his caring and supportive family. However, right around the turn of the last century, ZJ's father starts to have a lot of health concerns. He has horrific headaches that cause him to moan and
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Vicki
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book fills a huge need in middle grade/YA by addressing the complicated topic of CTE with such tenderness. People who love football, in my experience, do not love moralizing nonfiction about this topic (like one of my all-time favs, Fourth Down and Inches). As a result, I think the qualities of this book will draw readers in and prove an important point without turning off a lot of its likely audience: young boys, and particular boys of color, who are treated as expendable by big football c ...more
Jeanie Phillips
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!
Janssen
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was so good and totally heartbreaking. Highly recommend the audio version.
TL
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow 👏
Definitely want a hard copy of this one.

Highly recommend. The last part has me tearing up and wanting to hug everyone :(.

Narrator and story: 5 stars 🌟

Happy new year!
LeeAnna Weaver
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cannot think of another writer who can write for every audience as Jacqueline Woodson does. Her picture books, tween and YA novels, poetry, and adult fiction speak to readers of every age, gender, and race. This tender but unsentimental story describes a relationship between a boy and his beloved father who is suffering the effects of traumatic brain injuries sustained from his pro football career. It’s set in the time when the dangers of repeated concussions and the diagnosis of CTE, specific ...more
Samantha
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Beautiful. Important but sad. What a beautiful way to touch on such a “new” and difficult subject. Many boys dream of playing pro football, unaware of the dreamers before them who are now suffering unheard of consequences for playing a violent sport for others entertainment. I worry personally about having children who dream of playing football, a sport that I myself love so much, but am now more aware of its trauma.
Katy
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous story about unconditional, big family love and loss, and enduring, powerful and loving boy friendships.
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