Before the Ever After
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson is a juvenile fiction novel-in-verse that "explores how a family
moves forward when their glory days have passed and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies."
ZJ's dad has always been everyone hero, but to him, he's "just my dad [and that's] everything." So when his professional football player father starts acting strange after one too many hits to the head, ZJ doesn't know what to think.
As his father starts getting migraines, losing his memory, and occasionally his ability to function, ZJ struggles to accept this new normal. The search for answers leads nowhere and all seems lost. Can ZJ reclaim the happiness he lost when his father lost the game?
This one has been on my TBR list for awhile and just happened to come up on OverDrive the other day. And I am glad it did. This is a powerful story about a black family and the cost of one of America's favorite past-times.
Poetically written, this book gives you an insight into a time where players didn't know what was happening to them and the professionals didn't want to admit that sports trauma was a thing. I loved how thoughtfully the character of ZJ was done and how he turns to his family and his "boys" to help him get through. The story isn't completely about ZJ's father, but the reader can see how his father's "illness" shadows almost everything else.
At one point ZJ mentions that he likes realistic fiction because, even though they don't always have happy endings, they are real and it is nice to read about others who struggle... that it is nice to know that he isn't the only one. This is so true and one of the reasons that poignant, honest realistic fiction is so important in juvenile literature.
A powerful read. This one gets 4.5-5 stars from me.
That's all for now!