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Football on the brain? Check out Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

With the fuss of football season coming to a close have you ever wondered what happens to the players during the off-season? What type of recovery does their body require? What strains does the injuries of the players have on their families?

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson shines a light on the struggles of life after football using a series of poems. The story starts off with Zachariah Johnson (known to fans as Zachariah 44), a famous NFL football player who was adored by everyone. Some called him a "hero" but Zachariah Johnson, Jr. (ZJ) called him dad. ZJ reminisces about the times when he and his father would write songs or throw around the football but that all changed when Zachariah started to develop headaches, become forgetful, a sensitivity to light and sound, and have spouts of anger. Through the troubles of finding a diagnosis, growing up, and realizing that his father is not the "hero" everyone rooted for anymore, ZJ relies on his three friends.

ZJ begins to wonder what would have happened if he wasn't the son of "Zachariah 44" and if his father wasn't famous. Before the Ever After showcases the fear a family could have when a loved one is diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Throughout the story, ZJ just wants his family to be normal again but can a diagnosis or a medication regiment get his father back to his old self and get him back into the game?

This story is suggested for ages 8-12 who wants to read about friendship, football, or family struggles. Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson is available at Pocono Mountain Public Library in the New Youth Books Section.

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