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The First Part Lastby Angela Johnson
Winner of the 2004 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Literature for Young Adults
Winner of the 2004 Coretta Scott King Award for Best African-American Children's Writer
Synopses & Reviews
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.
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 no longer seem important as they're 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.
"In this companion novel, Johnson's fans learn just how Bobby, the single father for whom Marley baby-sits in Heaven, landed in that small town in Ohio. Beginning his story when his daughter, Feather, is just 11 days old, 16-year-old Bobby tells his story in chapters that alternate between the present and the bittersweet past that has brought him to the point of single parenthood. Each nuanced chapter feels like a poem in its economy and imagery; yet the characters — Bobby and the mother of his child, Nia, particularly, but also their parents and friends, and even newborn Feather — emerge fully formed. Bobby tells his parents about the baby ('Not moving and still quiet, my pops just starts to cry') and contrasts his father's reaction with that of Nia's father ('He looks straight ahead like he's watching a movie outside the loft windows'). The way he describes Nia and stands by her throughout the pregnancy conveys to readers what a loving and trustworthy father he promises to be. The only misstep is a chapter from Nia's point of view, which takes readers out of Bobby's capable hands. But as the past and present threads join in the final chapter, readers will only clamor for more about this memorable father-daughter duo — and an author who so skillfully relates the hope in the midst of pain. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Brief, poetic, and absolutely riveting, this gem of a novel tells the story of a young father struggling to raise an infant." School Library Journal
"Johnson makes poetry with the simplest words in short, spare sentences that teens will read again and again." Booklist
Bobby's a classic urban teenager. He's restless. He's impulsive. But the thing that makes him different is this: He's going to be a father. His girlfriend, Nia, is pregnant, and their lives are about to change forever. Instead of spending time with friends, they'll be spending time with doctors, and next, diapers. They have options: keeping the baby, adoption. They want to do the right thing. andlt;BRandgt; If only it was clear what the right thing was.
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. Her novel Sweet, Hereafter completes the Heaven trilogy. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio.
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