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Before the Ever After

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781510111776

Price: £7.99

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For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has always been everyone’s hero: a pro football superstar, a beloved member of the neighbourhood and a really, really great dad. But there’s something not right about ZJ’s dad these days. He’s having trouble remembering things, seems to be angry all the time and is starting to forget ZJ’s name.

Bit by bit, ZJ has to face this new reality that his family can’t keep holding on to his dad’s glory days. As his dad begins to have more bad than good days, will they ever find happiness again?

Written in lyrical, emotive poetry, this book is beautiful and accessible – perfect for readers aged 9+.


Woodson delivers a poignant new novel in verse that highlights an important topic within the sports world, especially football. . . . In addition to this, it is a novel that explores family, mental illness, and the healing that a tight-knit, loving community can provide.
Booklist, starred review
A poignant and achingly beautiful narrative shedding light on the price of a violent sport.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Woodson's text may be spare, but it has the emotional wallop of an offensive tackle.
Shelf Awareness, starred review
A beautiful and heart-wrenching story. . . . Eloquent prose poetry creates a moving narrative that reveals the grief of a child trying to understand why his father has changed and why nothing can be done.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Each of the poems ably captures the voice of the story's preteen boy protagonist; readers can feel the sense of love and loss that ZJ is experiencing as his dad slips away. Even though that loss is difficult, Woodson reminds readers that life's challenges are more easily faced with the support of friends and family.
Horn Book, starred review
ZJ's story will stay with the audience long after the last page is read.
School Library Journal, starred review