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After Tupac and D Foster | Jacqueline Woodson | Book Review

After Tupac and D Foster is only 151 pages but they are 151 pages that are packed with a punch. It follows three young girls in Queens, NY who are trying to make sense of their world. They meet when they are eleven years old and bond immediately. They each come from different backgrounds but together they help each other juggle daily life realities and wonder what the future has in store for them. They are also all fans of Tupac, who was beginning to gather a large following of fans.

After Tupac and D Foster is narrated by an unknown girl. Through her eyes, you learn about her interactions with her family, friends, and community. She spends time with her best friends Netta and D playing double dutch and sharing secrets. Double dutch is what first brings them together. The second thing that brings them together is Tupac. They are not physically drawn to him but find value in his lyrics and his story. He represented possibilities as well as trouble. Possibility for living his dream. Trouble for still having people determined to bring him down. The girls feel like he was speaking to their soul with his words especially D who has not had the best life so far.

D is a child in the foster system and is tired of having to prove herself in order to be seen and wanted. She is quick to judgement and had been let down more than she hasn’t. She also lives in the suburbs of Queens which means she has to take the bus to go anywhere. All of this is new to the narrator and Netta as they are not allowed to go on the bus or subway unaccompanied.

In some ways, they see D as wise beyond her hears. Some of this is due to the personal which D presents and had developed to protect himself. She kept most things close to the vest and felt a kinship to Tupac because of how he had been through it and still made it through. The bonds she forms with Netta and the narrator are the realist thing she has ever known. From their first meeting, they were bonded for life – they are “three the hardway”.

The theme of friendship is very prominent throughout the book and has several moments that just really pack a punch. These three girls are so well drawn out – they felt so real to me. This is such a great story and it brought back memories of childhood friendships. There are some I still talk to however there are more that I have lost contact with. Regardless the memories that were shared together will live on forever. This is the same way for these three girls. No matter the distance somehow they are always pulled back together even if it is just in their hearts.

After Tupac and D Foster may be a quick short read but it has a lasting impact. It is a beautifully written tribute to friendship and families and the impact which they have on an individual life. It also demonstrates the impact of music and musicians in the lives of their fans. Tupac was a connective light for this community and even when that light was snuffed out, the impact and sense of a community trying to dream and survive. Time still continued on moving last friendships and tragedy as the three girls continued to grow.

Rating: 4 Stars

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