The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

June 9, 2012
More by this author
There are a countless number of books in the world that have been published on the topic of 'Teen Motherhood'. In most of these stories, the woman or the mother takes responsibility for the child while the father is looked at as missing from the child's life. Is this the case with every story? Absolutely not.

Winner of the Printz Award and the Coretta Scott King Award, "The First Part Last" is a story of 16 year old Bobby and the struggles he goes through as he gets accustomed to his new baby daughter. Both Bobby and his girlfriend, Nia were great students in school. But when Nia gives him the news that she is pregnant on the day of his 16th birthday, everything seemed to take a turn for the worst.

At about 144 pages, the brief novel has a lot to offer to its audience. A page turner filled with detail that give you a clear image of the setting and the characters. Almost like the term 'A movie in our mind'. Angela Johnson's choice to alternate the chapters between "then" and "now", allow you to see the journey of Nia's pregnancy with Bobby and to experience the hardships the young father has to deal with in the present as time moves on. Bobby narrates this story and in the tone of the book you get a sense of his pain: "This little thing with the perfect face and hands doing nothing but counting on me. And me wanting nothing else but to run crying into my own mom's room and have her do the whole thing." As the novel progresses, you see his growth and determination to become a better father and do what is right for his daughter: "And then I know I'm being a man, not just some kid who's upset and wants his way."

The novel portrays Bobby's relationship with his daughter to be a positive one. Just because he is young father does not mean Johnson is attempting to send out the wrong message to her audience. Johnson depicts a caring father in Bobby's character and also gives you the image of the consequences and hardships of teen parenthood. In today's society, teenagers like Bobby are rare. But not non-existing. But every one's opinion is not the same.

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