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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Part 2, Pages 132-163Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 2: “The Ever After”

Part 2, Pages 132-163 Summary

“Birthday” opens a series of poems about Daddy’s 35th birthday party, which takes place a year after his last game. ZJ recounts the invitations, his waiting for his friends, and what the party means to him and his family. Daddy has a good night with friends and family all around him, but soon, he has another episode. Late at night, Zachariah Sr punches through a glass window, and an ambulance takes him to the hospital. ZJ’s Uncle Sightman comes to stay with him overnight, and in “Ways to Disappear” ZJ decides to go to school so he doesn’t have to think about what has happened. Uncle Sightman announces that both ZJ’s grandmothers and his aunt will come to stay with them for a little while. In the hospital, ZJ plays his father a song they wrote together. Music is one of the few things that bring his father both clarity and peace. ZJ and the family cling to both the music and the feelings of contentment it can bring.

In another set of memories, ZJ and his friends play football with a group of boys at school. They agree to play two-hand touch as they’ve always done.