The First Part Last
|Published||2003 (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)|
|LC Class||PZ7.J629 Fi 2003|
|Followed by||Sweet, Hereafter(novel)|
The First Part Last is a young adult novel by Angela Johnson that deals with the subject of teen pregnancy. It's the second book in the Heaven Trilogy. Johnson writes the story in first person narration from the perspective of Bobby, the 16-year-old father, setting it apart from most books on the subject. The book is divided into four parts and its chapters alternate between "then" and "now."
Bobby and Nia, the child's mother, are urban upper-middle-class African-American teenagers in New York. Although the parents initially intended to give their daughter Feather up for adoption, Bobby raises the little girl on his own and realizes how hard it truly is to be a parent. Bobby becomes tired all the time, and can't always get to school on time. Bobby's mother won't do any of the work, because she feels that doing so will only make Bobby more dependent upon them. Nia, while giving birth to Feather, gets eclampsia, a life-threatening complication, which leaves her in a permanent coma. In the end, Bobby moves to Heaven, Ohio.
- Bobby – Main character and Feather's father
- K-Boy – Bobby's friend
- J.L. – Bobby's friend
- Fred – Bobby's father
- Mary – Bobby's mother
- Paul – Bobby's brother
- Mr. Wilkins – Nia's father
- Mrs. Wilkins – Nia's mother
- Coco Fernandez – Bobby's neighbor
- Nia – Bobby's girl-friend and the mother of Bobby's daughter
- Nick – Paul's kid
- Nora – Paul's kid
- Feather – Bobby's baby
Kristi Jemtegaard said that Bobby is “venturing alone into fatherhood like someone exploring an alien planet.” The author also said the novel's protagonist deals with “disappointed parents and fierce love for his baby.
The First Part Last received mostly positive reviews. The Nell Beram said that “Johnson has a unique storytelling strategy." Another author from Publishers Weekly discussed how Bobby's descriptions of Nia conveys to people what a “loving and trustworthy father he promises to be.” However, not all reviews from Publishers Weekly were positive; the author also said, “the only misstep is a chapter from Nia’s point of view which takes readers out of Bobby’s capable hands.” Kirkus Reviews stated "By narrating from a realistic first-person voice, Johnson manages to convey a story that is always complex, never preachy. The somewhat pat ending doesn’t diminish the impact of this short, involving story. It’s the tale of one young man and his choices, which many young readers will appreciate and enjoy."
Awards and nominations
- Jemtegaard, kristi (March–April 2004). "Angela Johnson The First Part Last". Just No Okay Just No. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- Beram, Nell (July–August 2003). "Angela Johnson The First Part Last" (high school). Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- " The First Part Last". Publishers Weekly (high school). June 16, 2003. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "The First Part Last". www.kirkusreviews.com. Kirkus Media LLC. 1 June 2003. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
- Coretta Scott King Book Award Complete List of Recipients—by Year Archived 2008-10-07 at the Wayback Machine, American Library Association, retrieved 2009-01-17
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