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The First Part Last


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689849230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689849237
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #727,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

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.

From Booklist

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.

More About the Author

Angela Johnson is the author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book When I Am Old with You; as well as A Sweet Smell of Roses, illustrated by Eric Velasquez; Just Like Josh Gibson, illustrated by Beth Peck; and I Dream of Trains, which was also illustrated by Loren Long. She has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, one each for her novels Heaven, Toning the Sweep, and The First Part Last. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio.

Customer Reviews

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I highly recommend this short but powerful book to all teen readers.
Jessica Lux
I loved when Bobby realized Nia's (the mother) fate and stepped up to the plate and decided to be a single father, which is very rare in this day and age.
This was a great teen novel about teenage pregnancy from the perspective of the father to be.
T. Sullivan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Cydney Rax on July 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The First Part Last is the story of teenager Bobby Morris, a guy who likes to hang out with his friends K-Boy and J. L.; they're typical boys who want to shoot hoops, buy a slice of pizza in a New York City neighborhood, or play with a Game Boy. But things are never the same when Bobby gets Nia pregnant; she's flipping out about this baby developing inside her belly, and Bobby is learning all too fast what it takes to be a daddy and a man.
Bobby narrates the story, explaining all the feelings he has for his new baby daughter called Feather. It seems everything he does these days must be done in consideration of his daughter. Bobby and Feather are irrevocably tied together and Bobby is trying his best to cope with the joys and challenges of his new role.
The First Part Last may serve as a realistic wake-up call for teenagers who are experimenting with sex and who think pregnancy, motherhood, or fatherhood cannot happen to them. The book describes a lot of what being a parent entails and teens may think twice about what they'd want for their own future; being tied to a baby, or maybe having better alternatives about the direction for their lives.
One thing missing from the book is intensity. The narrator's voice is mild throughout the story so you never feel like anything explosive is about to happen. But maybe that is the writer's intent - that the reality of parenthood is explosive enough. The First Part Last is a brief and important book for teens to check out, and perhaps their parents too.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jarrod T Thompson VINE VOICE on March 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bobby describes "Just Frank", a man from his neighborhood who always asks when Bobby is going to be a man, as a joke. When "Just Frank" dies saving a young girl, Bobby begins to respect "Just Frank" and understand what it would take for him to be a responsible young father.
Bobby quickly learns that parenting is not an easy job. Angela Johnson gives a clear and accurate description of how totally exhausted new parents get. Bobby is on his own with no one making his experience easier for him.
Bobby is by no means perfect, but he grows as his experiences as a new father change and change him every day.
There is nothing false in this book. Bobby's life is not an easy one, and at times he wants to run away from the stress his situation is causing him.
All in all, Bobby unselfishly makes choices to do what is right for the baby. At times, he does consider just running away from it all, as all new parents do.
This book is worthy of its accolades and I can't say enough good things about it. Read this book and suggest it to others. Anyone can enjoy this truthful look at the ability of one small baby to completely change your life, your goals, your perspectives, and your sleep schedule.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could live our lives backward and experience the first part last? I think it would.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ByrnesQt4U06 on May 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The story starts out with a teenage boy celebrating his sixteenth birthday with his friends. As he returns home to enjoy cake and ice cream with his girlfriend, Nia, he finds her sitting on his front porch with a balloon. As he approaches her she looks like she is in her own world. Then she looks up at him and says "Bobby, I've got something to tell you." That is when he finds he is going to be a father. He doesn't know how to react or what to say. They then decided to tell their parents together. They are all shocked at the news they are hearing. Their parents send them to a social worker so they can find out their options and what would be best for them to do. They decided the best thing to do was give the baby up for adoption. As the months passed Bobby still hangs out with his friends, but sends as much time with Nia as possible. Then one day he gets a call saying to meet his parents at the hospital; something happened to Nia. So he rushes to the hospital, and finds that Nia has become sick. She still has a healthy baby girl which they named Feather. When Feather was born Bobby's neighbor, "Just Frank", died saving a young girl, and it wasn't until then that he started to respect "Just Frank" and his comments about becoming a man. Since Nia became sick, and would have to stay in a nursing home, Bobby decided to keep Feather because she reminded everyone of her mother. As the book then progresses, Bobby learns responsibility quickly, because while living with his mother, his mother would not help him take care of Feather, she would only hug and kiss her while Bobby was not watching. Then he goes to live with his dad, and he sees a major change because his dad is very helpful.Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jackie on January 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The First Part Last was a story based on teenage pregnancy, and all the responciblities that come along with having a baby. The main characters were Nia and Bobby. They had been dating for awhile when Nia finds out that she is pregnant. Now, they both have to tell their parents. Nia decides that she is going to give the baby to fostor parents, once it is born. Something goes wrong while Nia is in the delivery room. Nia has the baby, but suffers from brain damage. Bobby does not want to give his baby away anymore. He names the baby feather, and decides to keep her. Now he has to except responcibility.
Personally, I could relate to Bobby's friends, K.Boy and J.L. I can relate to them because i've had friends who have been pregnant. During the story, Bobby feels a lot of pressure from everyone, and he hopes that he will make the right decision. I have felt that way in many different circumstances. It's hard, not knowing if the decision your making is going to steer you in the right or wrong way. It gets worse when you have pressure from peers and family.
I enjoyed this book very much. My favorite part was when Bobby moves to Ohio, so Feather does not have to grow up in Brooklyn. My least favorite part of the book was when Bobby found out that Nia would have brain damage, or possible even die. I wish I could change that part in the story, so that Nia was healthy. Then her and Bobby could raise Feather together, and be a family.
I definetly recommend this book. If you are a teenager, who is wondering how hard it is to raise a child, then this book is for you. I would also recommend this book to adults, so they could try to understand what teens go through everyday of their lives, and how it feels to be judged on one mistake you made. A mistake that is going to change your life...
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