February 12, 2010

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Summary: Bobby is just an average fun loving teen who likes to hang out with his friends and party. Bobby is a good kid overall, but things take a turn for the worse when he realizes that his girlfriend, Nya, is pregnant. After a horrible ordeal during the delivery of their daughter, Bobby decides to raise Feather on his on as a single teenage father.

Likes: The best aspect of this story in my opinion was that as a reader, I didn't ever feel sorry for Bobby. The author envoked the old adage of Empathy not Sympathy with the character of Bobby and his care for his daughter, Feather. Sometimes Bobby did stupid things like get in trouble or leave his daughter asleep while he went to play basketball (thankfully he did notice and came back) and sometimes Bobby did incredible things like understanding his parent struggle and the tender moments shared with his daughter when she slept on his chest. As a reader, I was with Bobby, I understood how he felt but I never felt sorry for him and I also love how no one else in the book felt sorry for Bobby. They were willing to help him out when he needed it (and sometimes when he didn't).

The book was incredibly short and its brevity is one of its greatest strengths as well. I read the whole thing in about an hour or so and I was quite happy that it was short. Any longer and it might have bordered on sugary and overly sentimental. The writing was poetic without being overdone. Johnson writes the story in two different times "Now" (the past) and "Then" (the present). I believe that poetry of the writing and the length makes the narrative more cohesive and causes the theme and the emotions to resonate.

Dislikes: The story felt unfinished, as if the last part of the chapter was the beginning of something else. It is mention that this story is a prequel to another novel, written after the current novel. I would like to seek out this story entitled Heaven and see how the two books tie together. I wanted to know just a bit more about Nya as well. Her role in the story is important and while we do get a lot about her, I feel like there was just something missing, like how Bobby and Nya met.  

Overall: I loved this book. It was short, sweet and to the point. I look forward to reading the sequel/companion novel. It is interesting to hear teen pregnancy from the father's point of view, especially when he is put into the role of taking care of the child on his own. Johnson effectively captured Bobby's voice making his authentic and genuine.

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