If you haven't read anything by Jacqueline Woodson, it's time to fix that! I have loved everything of hers I've read so far. This one was no exception. I know some people shy away from novels in verse. I enjoy them. I feel like they have a rhythm to them that you can't achieve nearly as well with regular writing. It does allow for a little more skipping around in the narrative, as well, but when it's done well--like in this book--it feels natural.
Before the Ever After, by Jaqueline Woodson
2021 Coretta Scott King Book Award
5 stars: Warm-hearted and poignant.
ZJ's Dad plays pro football. He's always been ZJ's hero--and lots of other people's hero, too. He's a gentle giant, who loves football more than almost anything, but he loves his family most of all.
Then his dad starts changing. His hands shake. He forgets things--stuff like the name of one of ZJ's best friends. He cries sometimes for no reason, and sometimes get angry.
ZJ is scared and he just wants his dad to get better, but they are not finding any answers.
* * * * *
Woodson shines a light on the brain problems caused by repeated head trauma--like happens in football. Her characters are multi--faceted. I love her portrayal of warm, supportive family and friends that surround Zachariah and his family when things slide away from great and head straight toward hard. It's like she's saying, "Here's what it's like to be a friend. Here's how you stand by someone in trouble."
Written in free verse, which keeps the chapters moving quickly.