The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Standard

Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last.  Simon & Schuster, 2003.  $15.95, 144 pages.

Link to Author’s Website:  http://www.ajohnsonauthor.com/

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Reader’s Annotation:

Instead of pep rallies and prom, Bobby deals with pregnancy cravings, prenatal vitamins, a precious new daughter, and early parenthood.

Summary:

Bobby is your average teenage boy hanging out with friends, shooting hoops, catching movies, and getting into a little trouble every now and again.  His world changes completely on his sixteenth birthday when his girlfriend tells him that they are pregnant.  Although they are encouraged by their parents and a social worker to give their baby up for adoption so that they can continue living their lives as they are used to, Bobby makes the decision to raise his daughter when his girlfriend develops eclampsia and ends up in a vegetative state.  Bobby soon faces the difficulties of parenthood and of teen parenthood, all the while falling deeper in love with his baby girl.

Evaluation:

Angela Johnson deals with the very real, very difficult topic of teen pregnancy in this novel.  Her approach, however, is different from many other novels, in that it is told from the father’s point of view.  Insight into Bobby’s thoughts, feelings, and struggles adds a new element to this subgenre of young adult literature.  Bobby’s character is believable and likeable.  He takes on the responsibility of being a parent, yet also struggles because there are times when he just wants to go to his mom for her to deal with the baby.  He is also shown as loving towards his girlfriend, indulging her pregnancy cravings and sticking by her side through the entire pregnancy.  Johnson’s writing style is almost poetic, while her language is contemporary and easily accessible for readers.  The breaking up of the story into the before and after sections (before and after Feather’s birth) also lends to the poetic feel, as the story comes full circle at the end of the novel.

Rating Scale:

  • Popularity:1 – Would sit on shelves unread; 2 – May see the light of day as an assigned reading; 3 – Interesting to readers, may need marketing; 4 – Very appealing read, ; 5 – Need multiple copies, because it would always be checked out!
  • Quality: 1 – How was this book ever published?; 2 – Poor literary quality; 3 – Average literary quality, nothing stands out as exceptional; 4 – Overall high quality literary quality, with certain areas of exceptional literary quality; 5 – Well-crafted of the highest literary quality

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