Prime logo Prime members: New to Audible?
Get 2 free audiobooks during trial.
Pick 1 audiobook a month from our unmatched collection.
Listen all you want to thousands of included audiobooks, Originals, and podcasts.
Access exclusive sales and deals.
Premium Plus auto-renews for $14.95/mo after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Before the Ever After  By  cover art

Before the Ever After

By: Jacqueline Woodson
Narrated by: Guy Lockard
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $12.60

Buy for $12.60

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's summary

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies.

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that - but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can't remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

©2020 Jacqueline Woodson (P)2020 Listening Library

Critic reviews

“Woodson's text may be spare, but it has the emotional wallop of an offensive tackle.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review 

"Woodson’s latest novel in verse conveys that not all success stories have a fairy-tale ending. Readers will feel an immediate connection to ZJ and his group of authentic, complex friends and family. The idea of showing the dark side of fame through the experiences of a young family member is a unique perspective that will resonate with readers of all ages. ZJ’s story will stay with the audience long after the last page is read. A first choice for all collections. A unique take on sports and fame told from an unexpected perspective, and another incredible read ­delivered by Woodson.”—School Library Journal, starred review 

“Using spare and lyrical language for ZJ’s present-tense narration, which moves back and forth through time, Woodson skillfully portrays the confusion, fear, and sadness when a family member suffers from brain injury and the personality changes it brings. . . . The well-rounded secondary characters complete a mosaic of a loving African American family and their community of friends. . . . A poignant and achingly beautiful narrative shedding light on the price of a violent sport.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review 

What listeners say about Before the Ever After

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    91
  • 4 Stars
    28
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    89
  • 4 Stars
    12
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    69
  • 4 Stars
    26
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    4

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Just wow!

Woodson weaves a tale that draws you in with every small part of the story. The writing is superb, the performance by Lockard perfectly nuanced. Yes, it’s a YA book and I am a 76 year old lifelong football fan. I couldn’t get through it fast enough and I wanted to slow it down to last longer. This YA is for everyone ten and up. I want more Woodson!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Sports story in prose

Unique book written in prose. Sports story from the perspective of the child of a professional football player. It’s definitely a must read.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story everyone needs to experience

This was an excellent novel in verse that chronicles the hardships a young boy was enduring due to his father’s football injury which led to CTE. The writing and storytelling was superb as it was easy to follow and very descriptive. The short chapters helped it flow smoothly as well. Lockhard did an excellent job narrating which really brought it to life!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very sad but beautiful

This story is poetry. There’s not a word out of place in this painting of a novella. Beautifully narrated also.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Quick and enjoyable YA book

The narrator makes this and I felt like he really connected with the main character. It was a very easy read and I can't wait to download the sequel.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Important insight into how illness impacts family

I appreciate all of this author’s work. When my son questioned why I wasn’t a fan of tackle football I asked him to listen to this audiobook with me. It’s a short story told in verse form and felt like listening to journal entries.
The narrator was excellent.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

touching and timely

Great narration. Loved the story. Feeling the suffering while experiencing the joy through the eyes of a young boy

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • R
  • 05-25-21

loving this children's book

this is a story that needs to be heard about the impact of football on athletes, from the child's perspective. i felt the joy and sadness of zj, and felt for him and others who are struggling through this. well read.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow! So much for a child to experience.

Wow. This is a hard book, but also told at a level I believe the intended audience can understand. It was written while the understanding that contact sports can cause massive brain injuries that are irreversible was being discovered (or, really, acknowledged).

This young boy didn't understand what was happening to his dad. His dad was this famous football player who was loving and fun, but then he turned into an angry man with constant head pain. As a child, he just wanted his dad to be who he was. But that cannot be with this type of brain injury.

I love that she incorporated song writing and music in it. A terrible truth told beautifully.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

this was a great realistic fiction book

this book opened my mind to the fact that even famous people's family's have it hard! But it also reminded me that family will always be their, either in spirit, mind, or real life, just remember, you're never alone

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!