Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: The First Part Last

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson is a story about a 16 year old boy, Bobby, who gets his girlfriend pregnant and then has to raise their daughter, Feather. From the very beginning, the audience knows that Bobby is basically raising Feather on his own. His parents help him, but Bobby is regularly reminded that they are only Grandma and Grandpa. Bobby is Daddy.
The book is set up alternating between “now,” or Bobby’s life as a father, and “then,” Bobby’s life leading up to the birth of his daughter starting with him finding out his girlfriend, Nia, is pregnant. Throughout the “then” parts we can see that Bobby and Nia cared deeply about one another, and wonder why Nia is not present in the “now” sections. Is she dead? Did she run away? What happened?
As the “then” parts become closer in time to the “now” parts, we meet Bobby’s friends, family, and find out what happened to Nia.
It was more of a good-kids-make-a-bad-decision story than anything else. It is clear that Bobby and Nia are not into drugs and alcohol, and were raised knowing the possible consequences of having unprotected sex. They are both presented as smart kids who just weren’t thinking clearly in the heat of the moment.

I enjoyed the book. I thought it was realistic and got the intended message across. I liked Bobby and his family. The way he handled various situations showed that he was trying to be as mature and responsible as possible, but was still a kid. I especially liked a part where Bobby is taking Feather to the doctor. He says that he made an appointment for himself, too, since he is still young enough to see the pediatrician.

There were two parts that I thought were just...odd. The first was a scene when Bobby is in school falling asleep in class. His teacher asks to speak to him after class. The teacher asks about Bobby being a new father, where the mother is, and that’s pretty much it. The teacher does not appear again in the story. I think it might have been to show how exhausted Bobby was and that he wasn’t getting any slack in school, but I’m not sure. I already knew he was exhausted, and school isn’t actually a big part of the story. It’s about the Bobby maturing and coming to understand his current and future relationship with his daughter. Well, that’s what I thought it was about, anyway. So why the teacher bit?

The second odd moment was a chapter from Nia’s point of view. It was just one chapter that led up to finding out why she wasn’t around. I thought it was weird that Johnson plopped one Nia chapter in there. It provided another piece to the timeline of the story, but the same piece was given again in the next chapter. Reading something in Nia’s voice did not make me like her any more or less. It was just there.

But still, I liked this book. The First Part Last would be good for an 8th or 9th grader. It is short and easy to read, but the subject matter is a bit more mature. I’ll throw 10th grade in there, too. Bobby is a likeable character and is easy to root for.

1 comment:

  1. i really enjoyed this book , we also think that the father leaves but to be honest mothers can live to , meaning that this is the fathers side of the story and not the mothers so it was really interesting to learn something new. :)