A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Descriptions of life in 1994 Queens, New York. Lots of discussion of the life and music of Tupac Shakur.
Music can help you through hard times. It also can help you understand the lives of people very different from you. Keep an open mind when meeting new people -- you may learn something from them. Have faith in your "Big Purpose" in life.
Positive Role Models
The three girls' friendship is strong, and they grow as they discover there's a whole world beyond their block. African American characters deal with racism and feel targeted by police. Neeka's brother is in prison after being framed for a hate crime. A significant subplot involves a gay older brother and his world.
Violence & Scariness
Refers frequently to the multiple shootings and death of Tupac Shakur. A robbery and severe beating, a knife fight. Tupac is jailed for sexual abuse.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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"Ass" used several times. Neeka's gay brother is referred to as a "sissy" and a "queen."
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Products & Purchases
Soda, fast-food brands, Sony Walkman, talk of recording artist Tupac Sahkur's music.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References to smoking, drinking, and crack cocaine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that After Tupac and D Foster, by National Book Award, Newbery Honor, and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), is a coming-of-age friendship story of three tween girls in a close-knit African American neighborhood in Queens, New York. There are references to drugs, HIV, sex, racism, and violence, though nothing is described or done by the main characters. Tupac is jailed for sexual abuse, and there are frequent references to his multiple shootings and death.
Is It Any Good?
This story of friends united by their love of music has the power to open minds and bring together readers of vastly different experiences. One of the many purposes of literature is to let readers see themselves in the characters and see how people like them deal with the joys and difficulties of life. Many young readers will find themselves on the pages of After Tupac and D Foster. Author Jacqueline Woodson depicts a time, a place, and a friendship that all feel very real, and she uses the device of their love of rapper Tupac Shakur to make their experience universal. Any kid who has loved Shakur, or any musician, and used that person or group's music to help them figure out and get through their lives, will relate.
Another purpose of literature is to expose readers to lives different from their own, to open closed minds and broaden experience. Hanging her story on Shakur allows Woodson to accomplish both purposes. Tupac Shakur was one of those figures who divided America into two mutually uncomprehending groups -- those who loved him and found personal meaning in his work, and those who dismissed him as a gangsta who reaped what he sowed. Woodson opens up the world of the former group to the latter, who, after reading this, may want to reassess their hasty judgments and perhaps learn more.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.