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Grade 8 Up-Brief, poetic, and absolutely riveting, this gem of a novel tells the story of a young father struggling to raise an infant. Bobby, 16, is a sensitive and intelligent narrator. His parents are supportive but refuse to take over the child-care duties, so he struggles to balance parenting, school, and friends who don't comprehend his new role. Alternate chapters go back to the story of Bobby's relationship with his girlfriend Nia and how parents and friends reacted to the news of her pregnancy. Bobby's parents are well-developed characters, Nia's upper-class family somewhat less so. Flashbacks lead to the revelation in the final chapters that Nia is in an irreversible coma caused by eclampsia. This twist, which explains why Bobby is raising Feather on his own against the advice of both families, seems melodramatic. So does a chapter in which Bobby snaps from the pressure and spends an entire day spray painting a picture on a brick wall, only to be arrested for vandalism. However, any flaws in the plot are overshadowed by the beautiful writing. Scenes in which Bobby expresses his love for his daughter are breathtaking. Teens who enjoyed Margaret Bechard's Hanging on to Max (Millbrook, 2002) will love this book, too, despite very different conclusions. The attractive cover photo of a young black man cradling an infant will attract readers.
Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Gr. 6-12. Bobby, the teenage artist and single-parent dad in Johnson's Coretta Scott King Award winner, Heaven (1998), tells his story here. At 16, he's scared to be raising his baby, Feather, but he's totally devoted to caring for her, even as she keeps him up all night, and he knows that his college plans are on hold. In short chapters alternating between "now" and "then," he talks about the baby that now fills his life, and he remembers the pregnancy of his beloved girlfriend, Nia. Yes, the teens' parents were right. The couple should have used birth control; adoption could have meant freedom. But when Nia suffers irreversible postpartum brain damage, Bobby takes their newborn baby home. There's no romanticizing. The exhaustion is real, and Bobby gets in trouble with the police and nearly messes up everything. But from the first page, readers feel the physical reality of Bobby's new world: what it's like to hold Feather on his stomach, smell her skin, touch her clenched fists, feel her shiver, and kiss the top of her curly head. Johnson makes poetry with the simplest words in short, spare sentences that teens will read again and again. The great cover photo shows the strong African American teen holding his tiny baby in his arms. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A fantastic read for young and older readers! This books shows the complexity of life and humanity as well as its beauty: the love of a parent for his child.Published 15 days ago by M. Faine-czarnecki
This small, short book packs a powerful punch and how I overlooked it for so long, surprises me. With only 132 pages, this book is about reality, it spoke my song and although it... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Live Outside
I took a risk on this book. I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but I loved it! I read it in about 90 minutes and I wish it wasn't over. I fell in love with both Bobby and his character. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kindle Customer
I enjoyed this book. I think I went into it expecting something different, but I still read it straight through without stopping. Glad I took the time to read it.Published 7 months ago by Jasmine Harris
Being foolish as a teenager is nothing new. Reliving that time in a life is just what the reader can do while reading "The First Part Last". Read morePublished 7 months ago by Shirley A. Renaud
This is an amazing book, absolutely love it. Bobby is a great dad all by himself. Everybody should read this book. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Timara Clemmons