“Maybe while he was in jail, Tupac started thinking about his Big Purpose. That’s what D called it—our Big Purpose. She said everybody’s got one and it’s just that we gotta figure out what it is and go have it.” D Foster is the mysterious teen who walks one summer’s day into the lives of the narrator and her best friend, Neeka. D is a child in the foster care system and a self-proclaimed “roamer.” When she arrives on the narrator’s block in Queens, she explains that she stopped because she “saw all the trees.” The three girls quickly form a tight bond and a shared love for the music of Tupac Shakur.
Tupac’s music and tumultuous life provide the backdrop to the girls’ story. Tupac was the victim of multiple attempts on his life, and after he is shot and recovers the first time, he proves an inspiration to the girls who face their own challenges. The narrator and her single mother struggle to make ends meet; Neeka’s brother Tash is in prison upstate after being wrongfully accused of a violent crime; and D has been bounced from foster home to foster home since early childhood.
In After Tupac & D Foster, Jacqueline Woodson has done an outstanding job of bringing life to three very special characters. Through her characters she is able to create a very realistic and moving portrait of teens experiencing very challenging scenarios—wrongful imprisonment, foster care, racism, poverty, and violence. Even though Woodson has her characters face a variety of difficult circumstances, she still is somehow able to share successfully the love, loyalty, and bonds of friendship felt by these three best friends.
Review by Maddie, CLP-Squirrel Hill