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After Tupac and D Foster

by Jacqueline Woodson

Published by Putnam, 2008
153 pages
ISBN: 978-0399246548

Ages 10-14

Jacqueline Woodson offers a deep and tender look at friendship and growing up in a novel that spans almost two years in the lives of three African American girls in the mid-1990s. The story’s unnamed narrator and her best friend, Neeka, have been like sisters since infancy. They move in and out of each other’s homes with the certainty of belonging, and share angst and frustration over loving mothers who keep a tight watch over everything they do. When D Foster enters their lives she is a complete unknown, and parts of her life remain a mystery over the next two years. D is eleven, too, but she lives with a foster mother who lets her wander the city, trusting D to stay out of trouble and come home each night. And she does. D is determined to have a future—find her Big Purpose—and that means playing by the rules. She is looking for friendship, and the two best friends find it easy to expand their hearts and embrace her. D shares their love of Tupac Shakur, whose songs speak truths they understand and dreams they hope for, and she has more freedom than either of them imagines possible for her own life. All three girls have seen and experienced much that is unfair, from D’s lengthy time in foster care to the homophobia that Neeka’s flamboyantly gay older brother Tash has had to endure (even Pac, they note, doesn’t have nice things to say about people like Tash). But all three girls are smart, sensitive, and open-hearted, and these are strengths that, together with the bond they share, fill Woodson’s novel with so much hope for their future. (MS) ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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