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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring 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 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?

©2020 Jacqueline Woodson (P)2020 Listening Library

What listeners say about Before the Ever After

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  • Janet H. Maddox
  • 2020-09-05

Just wow!

Woodson weaves a tale that draws you in with every small part of the story. The writing is superb, the performance by Lockard perfectly nuanced. Yes, it’s a YA book and I am a 76 year old lifelong football fan. I couldn’t get through it fast enough and I wanted to slow it down to last longer. This YA is for everyone ten and up. I want more Woodson!

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  • Deborah-GOG Bookclub, AL1
  • 2020-11-15

Pigskin

This was a beautiful story about a wonderful close knit family. The dad was a revered football player who, after many years of playing without a helmet suffered brain damage. His pain and confusion reminded me of dementia patients. Sic a sad ending.

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  • S. Clark
  • 2020-09-20

Sad but Beautiful

This is a beautifully sad book about the effects of CTE on an athlete and his family, specifically his young son. The story is told from son's point of view. Jacqueline Woodson's writing is spot on and you can feel both the love and the despair throughput the book. Guy Lockard did a great job narrating. I highly recommend you give it a listen.

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  • Matthew F.
  • 2020-09-11

From a CTE and complex dementia specialist

Woodson beautifully and clearly illustrates the challenges, pain, and conflicts of cognitive impairments for families.