A Blog of Children's Literature

After Tupac and D Foster March 7, 2011

After Tupac and D FosterAfter Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson (2008)

Contemporary Realism, 160 pages

Jacqueline Woodson masterfully winds this fictional tale of friendship and loss around the last years of life for rap phenom Tupac. D Foster walks into the lives of two best friends at age 11, before Tupac is shot for the first time. D is immediately one of the girls, and over the next two years, around the block they are referred to as Three the Hard Way. As a foster child, D has seen beyond her share of tragedy and stolen hope and yet clings to the possibility of her mother returning for her one day. As many others have, D relates to Tupac’s lyrics of hardship and injustice and finds him a beacon of light in a dark time. Somewhat sheltered from the world beyond their block, the other two girls begin to understand the world at a more developed level through D’s eyes. Without being overbearing, Woodson threads Tupac’s impact through the story, really capturing why he was so successful: when many listened to his music they saw themselves and their neighborhoods reflected in his social commentary. Woodson is also not afraid to address some weighty themes, such as homosexuality and its treatment in the hood, jail, dreams of pro-ball, throwaways, and single parents, but does so in an interwoven pattern that is never overwhelming or destructive to the girls’ story, but instead creates a backdrop for their maturity and greater understanding of the way the world works. While the narrator is never named, her first-person narration pulls the reader into the story, really connecting with her life, thoughts, and experiences with D. Mirroring the impact of Tupac’s death and everlasting influence, D’s companionship is lost as her mother returns for her and takes her away, leaving the girls a bit wiser and forever remembering what they learned from D Foster. After Tupac & D Foster would be a great read for a young adult admirer of Tupac or an urban fiction fan who can handle some of the more philosophical explorations of life.


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