Before the Ever After

Before the Ever After

Book - 2020
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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?
Publisher: New York :, Nancy Paulsen Books,, [2020]
ISBN: 9780399545436
Branch Call Number: KIDS WOO
Characteristics: 161 pages ; 22 cm

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Having a father who plays pro-football might sound like a dream, but for ZJ and his family it's becoming a nightmare. His father starts loosing his memories and it might all be caused by head injuries while playing football.

ZJ's dad was a football star...until he suffered one-too-many head injuries. Now ZJ barely recognizes his father and doesn't know if he'll ever be okay. A gorgeous family story with the most supportive group of young friends - you'll feel less alone just by reading this verse novel.


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KCLS_RobinH May 06, 2021

Examines the horrific damage head-crashing sports do to families, careers, and relationships. We see the steady decline of a pro football player through the eyes of his tween, who has a tight bunch of guys to share his burden. Great examples of healthy male relationships.

sonja_library Mar 31, 2021

Woodson takes on a difficult topic in this heart wrenching tale - chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This disease affects athletes who take too many blows to the head resulting in multiple concussions. It causes headaches, tremors, memory loss and personality changes, effectively ending the athlete’s career.
Although few children have fathers who play professional football, many children have experienced loss or dramatic changes due to illness. They may feel anxiety or even panic at seeing their rock and salvation transformed into a person incapable of tying their own shoes.
The author explores TJ’s confusion and fear with a gentle hand, allowing him to be both a child and a hero who will eventually become his father’s rock as the disease progresses.

a
anonymouse1
Feb 25, 2021

told in verse, story of song writer and friends dealing with dad, a former football player who seems to be falling apart with memory problems.

FPL_Yvette Jan 08, 2021

It's a quick read told in verse from a son's perspective. It's heartbreaking and confusing for 12-year-old ZJ who watches his Super Bowl-winning father begin to lose his memory, his temper, and control of his movements. The doctors don't know what's causing it, but ZJ's dad isn't the only pro player experiencing these symptoms. ZJ is a song writer and musician; in his music he finds respite and an unbreakable connection with his father. The story highlights how the right support network can help get you through life's tough times. ZJ's boys always being there for him was my favorite part of this story. Bad times bring out good friends.

DCLkids Nov 16, 2020

A Great Books for Great Kids pick 2020. ZJ's football star dad has become distant, angry and forgetful because of the head injuries he sustained during his career. ZJ must reconcile his new reality with the memories of his father, but do the glory days matter if his father can't remember them? Grades 4-6.

OPL_KrisC Nov 12, 2020

A short, but intense book for kids about how a young boy's father has a denegerative brain disease after suffering too many concussions on the football field.

LPL_MaryW Oct 16, 2020

Jacqueline Woodson’s practiced hand gracefully pens the story of a son watching his father change with the seasons. A beloved professional football player, ZJ’s dad is sidelined when he suddenly begins to experience serious neurological issues. It’s hard for ZJ to understand why his dad’s excruciating headaches won’t let up, what he’s thinking as he stares out the window for hours, how he could possibly be unable to recognize his own son. ZJ hangs onto the memory of his dad by the strings of his guitar—when they sing or rap together, it’s just like it was before the ever after. A stunning story of the consequences of an American obsession, the audiobook beautifully read by Guy Lockard.

d
darladoodles
Oct 16, 2020

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 boys. Writes songs for his daddy to sing with him on the good days. Watch this one. It is going to be an award winner, starting with the Newbery list in 2021.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Sep 25, 2020

What to say? It's Jacqueline Woodson, so you know it's solid. My one minor almost-quibble... though the delicate, gut punch verse is perfect, I may have liked it more as prose. The characters were too good to let go of so quickly. I wanted more of their story.

Tigard_HollyCP Sep 11, 2020

Before: ZJ's daddy helped his team win the Super Bowl.
Ever After: ZJ's daddy's hands shake.
Before: ZJ's daddy gave him the nickname, Little Man.
Ever After: Sometimes ZJ's daddy doesn't even know who he is.
Before: ZJ's daddy encouraged him to do what he loves, no matter what it is.
Ever After: ZJ's dad erupts in anger over small things.

It's 1999 and 12-year-old ZJ is coming to grips with the knowledge that his Super Bowl winning dad, Zachariah 44, is not OK. He has had so many concussions and now his brain doesn't work like it used to. ZJ has his 3 best friends and his music to help him cope, but nothing can change the fact that he has lost the dad he knew as a little boy. This novel in verse takes place during the time when details were emerging of athletes suffering severe consequences as a result of multiple concussions but before there was even a name for it (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Very sad yet hopeful story written by #OwnVoices Black author, Jacqueline Woodson.

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anonymouse1
Mar 07, 2021

anonymouse1 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

OPL_KrisC Nov 12, 2020

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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