The narrator of After Tupac and D Foster remains unnamed. Woodson most likely made this choice to help the reader step into the narrator’s place and also to signal that this is a story about a character’s process of coming to know other people rather than focusing on herself. In spite of her namelessness, the narrator of the story is a fully fleshed-out person, a thoughtful girl and an avid reader who craves freedom and works hard to figure out her world. The narrator often feels awestruck by other people’s depth of understanding, especially when this understanding stems from hardships they have experienced. Because she is such an earnest person, she tends to consider other people’s feelings with respect. Although she is not always the focus of the book, the narrator is arguably the main character, whose story is a process of beginning to understand life through her friend and her hero.


Neeka is short for Daneeka L. Jones; she has been the narrator’s best friend since early childhood. Unlike the main character, who is an only child, Neeka is part of a large family. Her younger siblings are a constant source of annoyance for her, and her older brothers are a source of both pride and worry. In many ways, Neeka is less mature than the narrator is, and she sometimes makes fun of other people’s decisions before thinking through their reasons. However, she has serious thoughts about her Big Purpose, and she determines that she wants to work hard to become a professor or lawyer, someone who commands respect. Neeka looks forward to adulthood and craves freedom even more than the narrator does. In general, she is also more willing to test boundaries.

D Foster (Desiree Johnson)

Their friend D Foster is a “throwaway kid” who roams New York City looking for a place where she belongs. Her real name is Desiree Johnson, but she goes by D and gives herself the name Foster because she has lived most of her life in foster care. Although she sometimes lies and often avoids talking about her past, D values her friendships with the narrator and Neeka at least as much as they do. She is a deep thinker who...

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