After Tupac and D Foster

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
After Tupac and D Foster Book Poster Image
Powerful coming-of-age tale of tween girls bonded by music.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Descriptions of life in 1994 Queens, New York. Lots of discussion of the life and music of Tupac Shakur.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


A kiss.


"Ass" used several times. Neeka's gay brother is referred to as a "sissy" and a "queen."


Soda, fast-food brands, Sony Walkman, talk of recording artist Tupac Sahkur's music.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to smoking, drinking, and crack cocaine.

What 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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byjmoore106 September 9, 2010

I just want to let our kids no ahead of time

i think that this book is very age should let kids read these book because you want to let them know before they get older and get themselves into... Continue reading
Parent of a 15 and 17-year-old Written byPNW TeacherMom July 3, 2010

Friendship Triumphs Poverty

A great friendship book about some African-American tween-aged girls. Sometimes a bit gritty (prison, homosexuality, gangs, foster kids, shooting) the book is... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHufflepug October 6, 2016
well, I had to do a book report on a newbury book report, and I picked this one because I like tupac. this was an amazing book. it was probably better than harr... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 10, 2012

the best

this is a great book for any age who read over a 5th grade reading level.

What's the story?

In AFTER TUPAC AND D FOSTER, it's 1994 and the unnamed narrator and her best friend, Neeka, meet foster child D Foster when she wanders into their close-knot neighborhood in Queens, New York. The three 11-year-old girls become inseparable for the next two years, bonding over Tupac Shakur's music. Then everything changes when Tupac is killed and D Foster's real mother takes her away. 

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the main characters feel about recording artist Tupac Shakur in After Tupac and D Foster. Why is Tupac so important to the characters? How does he affect their lives?

  • Have you ever had a friendship revolve around a shared love of a recording artist or movie star? How did your both being fans affect the friendship?

  • Have you ever known someone in the foster care system? How would their life be different from yours? Do you think you might share the same taste in music?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love friendship tales and stories of Black lives

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