73 pages 2 hours read

Jacqueline Woodson

Before the Ever After

Fiction | Novel/Book in Verse | Middle Grade | Published in 2020

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Essay Topics


Tragic heroes are characters that have traits that make them worthy of sympathy and admiration. They also have personality traits that lead to their own downfall. Is Zachariah “44” Johnson, Sr. a tragic hero? Why or why not?


One of the things ZJ worried about in the novel was things never being the same again. As the novel ends, what about the Johnson family life has changed? What aspects remain the same?


ZJ’s friend group is the Fantastic Four, which is also the name of a group of superheroes by the same name. How are Woodson’s characterizations of the boys similar to a band of superheroes? How are they different? Feel free to compare them to Marvel’s Fantastic Four or superheroes in general.