After Tupac and D Foster Summary
by Jacqueline Woodson

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After Tupac and D Foster Summary

After Tupac and D Foster is narrated by an unnamed twelve-year-old girl who, in the prologue, summarizes most of what happens in the book. She and her friend Neeka develop a friendship with a mysterious girl named D Foster, whose real mother eventually comes and takes her away. During their two years of friendship, the three girls watch their hero, Tupac Shakur, survive a near-fatal shooting, go to jail for “some dumb stuff,” have a personal revelation that thug life is wrong, and finally get killed. “Time kept passing on that way. Things and people changing,” the narrator says.

As the story begins, the narrator is eating pizza and watching a Tupac video with Neeka and D. The main character wants both girls to spend the night, but D says her foster mother, Flo, told her to come home tonight. As the girls walk D to the bus stop, they think about Tupac’s lyrics. The main character reflects that D, like Tupac, understands life in a way many others—including the main character herself—cannot. At that moment, D says, “The way I figure it, we all just out in the world trying to figure out our Big Purpose.” She says she does not know her purpose yet but that she will tell the others when she does.

Neeka and the narrator have been friends forever but their relationship with D is fairly new. The narrative skips back in time to their first meeting, when D explains that she roams around New York, going wherever she likes, even though she is only eleven years old. The other two, who are not even allowed to leave their block, are jealous. They invite D to bring a rope for double Dutch if she ever returns. A few days later, she does, and the girls start a tentative friendship.

Over time, the narrator and Neeka tell D all about their families. Neeka has several brothers and sisters. Her big brother Jayjones wants to be a professional basketball player, and her brother Tash is “a queen” who sometimes has trouble with people who make fun of his homosexuality. The main character is an only child, a bright girl whose poor, single mother wants her to go to college someday.

When D is not around, the other girls’ mothers grill them about their new friend; they worry that this child they do not know will be a bad influence on their daughters. When the narrator’s mother asks who D’s daddy is, the main character says she does not know—but she points out that she barely knows who her own father is, either. She is annoyed at her mother’s grilling and wants to say, “Mama, there’s always stuff we’re not ever gonna know,” but she holds herself back because she knows her mother would find this rude.

The main character and Neeka see hard truths in their lives in spite of their mothers’ overprotective attitudes. One day Jayjones comes home and says that a police officer stopped him on the street just because he was a black boy running. Their hero, Tupac, gets arrested and has to face a white judge who disapproves of the fact that Tupac has “THUG LIFE” tattooed on his belly. The narrator’s mother, who does not even like Tupac, finds this unjust. When the three girls learn that their hero is going to jail, they sit silently on the steps in the cold until they all feel numb.

The next day, Tupac is shot. The girls cry and talk about his lyrics, which send the message that for black kids like them, “the world doesn’t really care.” For the first time, D tells about her life at some of the foster homes she lived in as a young child. In one of them, the foster parents spent her support checks on crack instead of food. D says that Tupac is the sort of man who comes back stronger when someone gets him down. Listening to his music makes her feel like she does not want to give up. As the next few months pass, the girls notice that black boys are far more likely to end up in prison than seems just. By the time Tupac is out of jail, Neeka’s brother Tash is in prison for a crime he did not commit.

One day D offers to let the...

(The entire section is 1,658 words.)