Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Book Description: National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson’s stirring novel explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed.
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?
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: Another amazing book from prolific author Jacqueline Woodson. This story told from ZJ as he watches the demise of his pro football father from CTE.
ZJ’s Dad has had a stellar football career as the best tight end in the NFL. He is a wonderful father, husband, and a pillar in the community. The book’s story picks up after he starts to experience paralyzing headaches, memory loss and an extremely bad temperament.
We watch through ZJ’s eyes, this intensely scary change in his father. ZJ shares stories of before and after. We see the heartbreak in ZJ when his father forgets his name for the first time. Also, the dilemma in which DJ personally has to decide if he will ever play football again, himself.
This is a gorgeous, heartbreaking story of a boy learning to live with his much beloved hero and father and the changes he faces. This is a very short novel, but just so lovely and powerful.