Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
ZT has the perfect life. He has a group of friends he’s super tight with. His family is loving and supportive, and his dad is a football superstar. But this idyllic life begins to unravel when his father starts getting debilitating migraines, ending his football career. As his father begins to lose his memory, ZT learns that not all success stories have happy endings. And sometimes supporting the people we love most can be incredibly difficult.
Woodson’s sparse but evocative language makes this novel in verse a great match for reluctant readers. The grounding in sports will also draw readers in. Though the book jumps between the past and the present, Woodson’s use of the present tense makes it easy to follow. Even as she deals with difficult topics, such as traumatic brain injuries in sports and grief, she does so with language that will be accessible for many readers. The pairing of trauma with how community and families pull together in times of need ultimately creates a book that balances pain and joy.
Fans of the movie “Concussion” with Will Smith and the books The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and the Track Series by Jason Reynolds will find a lot to love in this book.
–Ness Shortley, Pittsboro, NC
Other Nominated Titles
- Prom House by Chelsea Mueller (May 4th, 2021)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the Title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.