After Tupac and D Foster
by Jacqueline Woodson
NY: Putnam Juvenile, 2008. 153 pages.
ages 11 - 14.
After Tupac and D Foster won the 2009 Newbery Honor Award, and it will appeal many kids in middle school. This book has an amazing voice. Told from a first person point of view, the author brought me into feeling like a 12 year old girl struggling to understand herself, made me remember what it felt like to try to understand myself, my friends, my Big Purpose.
At its heart, it's a story about friendship. D Foster comes into the main character's life just a few months before Tupac gets shot the first time. D's foster mom lets her roam, and one day she appears on Neeka and the narrator's block. Over the next two years, the three girls (Neeka, D, and the narrator) develop a strong friendship - they become Three the Hard Way - and share their love for Tupac and his music.
"How could I explain even a little bit of this to Mama - how some days D smiled at me and felt like my missing half. ... D was home to me and Neeka. D was ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies. She was sun and crazy loud laughter and warm rain."But D disappears just as suddenly as she appeared. And Neeka and the narrator have to come to terms with that. Tupac is shot, and D is gone. But they'll both be part of their lives forever. In the end, I found that the big message was that home is where people love and accept you for who you are, even if your story has missing pieces.
I think this book will attract kids who like realistic stories, who are grappling with family and friendship issues - perhaps some 5th graders, but definitely middle school students. The added texture of the friends' love of Tupac will appeal to kids who have used music and lyrics to help them figure out their lives and struggles.
Would you like to read part of this book? Look at it on Google Books for a limited preview. Find it at the Oakland Public Library or the Berkeley Public Library. It's also available at bookstores near you and at Amazon.
This review was written by Mary Ann Scheuer for Great Kid Books. Copyright 2009, Great Kid Books.