The First Part Last – Angela Johnson
Bobby is your classic urban teenaged boy—impulsive, eager, restless. On his sixteenth birthday, he gets some news from his girlfriend, Nia, that changes his life forever. She's pregnant. Bobby's going to be a father. Suddenly things like school and house parties and hanging with friends are replaced by visits to Nia's obstetrician and a social worker who says that the only way for Nia and Bobby to lead a normal life is to put their baby up for adoption.
With powerful language and keen insight, Johnson looks at the male side of teen pregnancy as she delves into one young man's struggle to figure out what "the right thing" is and then to do it. No matter what the cost.
Review: I read this entire book without putting it down once. I know the book is only 130 pages, so that doesn’t sound impressive, but I don’t think I’ve read a book in one sitting since The Hunger Games came out. This is going to be a short review. I don’t have much to say other than “This little book is good!”
Anyway, The First Part Last is about Bobby, a sixteen-year-old who is raising his newborn daughter on his own.
The book is written in a fragmented writing style that really allows the reader to experience Bobby’s exhaustion, confusion, and desperation. He’s trying to do what’s right for his daughter, but he doesn’t always make the best choices. The writing style reminds me of urban poetry at times. The chapters alternate between “Then” and “Now.” The “Then” chapters are about Nia’s pregnancy, and the “Now” chapters are about Bobby’s struggle to raise their daughter. Even though the book is intense, it’s not hopeless. You get a sense that Bobby will do whatever it takes to care for his child.
Even though this is a contemporary book, there is a lot of suspense. The reader doesn’t find out why Nia isn’t involved in the baby’s life until the end. Older readers will probably pick up on the foreshadowing and figure it out before the end, but younger readers may be surprised.
This is an important book because it focuses on a teen father. In our society, teen mothers get all of the attention, but there are fathers who are raising children alone. They deserve to have their stories told, too.