The First Part Last (Heaven Trilogy Series #2)

The First Part Last (Heaven Trilogy Series #2)

by Angela Johnson

Hardcover(Large Print Edition)

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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.
It's not going to happen....

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786273799
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 03/23/2005
Series: Angela Johnson's Heaven Trilogy Series , #2
Edition description: Large Print Edition
Pages: 241
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Angela Johnson has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, one each for her novels The First Part Last, Heaven, and Toning the Sweep. The First Part Last was also the recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award. She is also the author of the novels Looking for Red and A Certain October. Her books for younger readers include the Coretta Scott King Honor Book When I Am Old with You, illustrated by David Soman; Wind Flyers and I Dream of Trains, both illustrated by Loren Long; and Lottie Paris Lives Here and its sequel Lottie Paris and the Best Place, both illustrated by Scott M. Fischer. Additional picture books include A Sweet Smell of Roses, Just Like Josh Gibson, The Day Ray Got Away, and All Different Now. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt

The First Part Last

By Angela Johnson

Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2003 Angela Johnson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-689-84922-2

Chapter One


My mom says that I didn't sleep through the night until I was eight years old. It didn't make any difference to her 'cause she was up too, listening to the city. She says she used to come into my room, sit cross-legged on the floor by my bed, and play with my Game Boy in the dark.

We never talked.

I guess I thought she needed to be there. And she must have thought her being there made everything all better for me.


I get it now. I really get it.

We didn't need to say it. We didn't have to look at each other or even let the other one know we saw each other in the glow of the Game Boy.

So last week when it looked like Feather probably wasn't ever going to sleep through the night, I lay her on my stomach and breathed her in. My daughter is eleven days old.

And that sweet new baby smell ... the smell of baby shampoo, formula, and my mom's perfume. It made me cry like I hadn't since I was a little kid.

It scared the hell out of me. Then, when Feather moved on my stomach like one of those mechanical dolls in the store windows at Christmas, the tears dried up. Like that.

I thought about laying her in the middle of my bed and going off to find my old Game Boy, but I didn't.

Things have to change.

I've been thinking about it. Everything. And when Feather opens her eyes and looks up at me, I already know there's change. But I figure if the world were really right, humans would live life backward and do the first part last. They'd be all knowing in the beginning and innocent in the end.

Then everybody could end their life on their momma or daddy's stomach in a warm room, waiting for the soft morning light.


And this is how I turned sixteen....

Skipped school with my running buddies, K-Boy and J. L., and went to Mineo's for a couple of slices. Hit a matinee and threw as much popcorn at each other as we ate. Then went to the top of the Empire State Building 'cause I never had before.

I said what everybody who'd ever been up there says.

"Everybody looks like ants."

Yeah, right....

Later on that night my pops, Fred, made my favorite meal - cheese fries and ribs - at his restaurant. I caught the subway home and walked real slow 'cause I knew my mom had a big-ass cake for me when I got there, and I was still full. (In my family, special days mean nonstop food.)

I never had any cake though 'cause my girlfriend Nia was waiting on our stoop for me with a red balloon. Just sittin' there with a balloon, looking all lost. I'll never forget that look and how her voice shook when she said, "Bobby, I've got something to tell you."

Then she handed me the balloon.


Excerpted from The First Part Last by Angela Johnson Copyright © 2003 by Angela Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The First Part Last 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 305 reviews.
mike68 More than 1 year ago
The book First Part Last by Angela Johnson was really good. Anyone looking for a good book that is short and and still fun to read, this is the book for you. You learn alot about teenage pregnacy, and all of the things you have to over come. The main characters name is Bobby, he is 16 and since he had intercourse with his girlfriend Nia, his life has changed forever. Bobby has to get rid of friends, sports, and his studies. Once his girlfriend Nia has the baby, he has to take care of it, he never sleeps anymore because Feather is keeping him awake. Bobby is raising this baby all by himself. When the baby was born they were going to put Feather up for adoption. Bobby loved Feather at first sight, so he decided that he wanted to take care of him. That might have been the worst decision he has ever made. People think that they wont get pregnant but this story shows that it happens often. I Liked the book alot, I reccomend this book to teenagers that are thinking about having sex for the first time, it could change your mind.
Nekale Medearis More than 1 year ago
Overall this was a great book... im happy to see a males point of view in raising a kid... no men dont give birth but this book shows just how a woman steps up and takes resposibiliy so can a man... great read :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books that I have read. It had capture me in Part 1. I've read this book in three days. I wanted to keep reading it and bring it home so I could finish it. But, I couldn't It was time for me to leave and go. But, this book is great. I gave it 5 stars because, it deals with the pressure of going to his parents and Nia's. Him crying for his mom because, he now has to be a grown up even though he's just a kid hisself.
westgate More than 1 year ago
The first part last by Angela Johnson, is an amazing book. I really recommen you to read it. The author really explains everything with details its very esay to understand she makes you feel like you were one of the characters in the book. Bobby the main charaters would change your mind about babies, if your a person that don't like babies he will make you feel how wonderful having a kid is,but mostly he's going to give you a lesson when to have one too. Its not that easy, so read this book its very intersting and emotional.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember my teacher had the class relad this in turns. It was a good way to teach us about these issues. Really good book for a teen to read.
lashara More than 1 year ago
I recently read this book and i thought it was really good! The book was very realistic! Things like teenage pregnancy and death during labor are real life things that are not planned or predicted! I felt that the father was very smart and deep and that he didnt quite know what he was doing or what he'd gotten himself into but he did the right thing for himslef and his baby! All in all its a great book not very long but has a very lomglasting impact!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book i read when i was 12 ...and its a great story with a lot of cuss words thou
Jodi-Lynn90 More than 1 year ago
I usually buy and read about 2 to 3 books a week and this is in my top 10 favorites. Everyone usually focuses on the mother when it comes to teen pregnancy, but this book is told by the father who is raising his baby alone. The entire book is great, but the ending is amazing! I think teenagers and Adults both would enjoy this very touching story.
Jacki Alberts More than 1 year ago
Every teen should read this!
Brooke Hull More than 1 year ago
i loved this book! its a great read! =) it made me think about the choices that we make in life as teenagers...i think teens should read this book
Julie Sirhall More than 1 year ago
It is ver moving. It is very powerful and enjoyable. I would recomend this to anybody and everybody.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was overly ambitious. I get how this is to provide insight on the male side of teen pregnancy, but it really wasnt anything I didnt expect. Some of it was confusing because Bobby never straight out said anything, he was all dramatic using metaphors and imagery. Simple acts like waking Feather up could lead to him babbling about something different for pages to come. Why didnt he flat out say what happened to Nia? What the heck happened to this story? It was just too short to really portray anything. Im sorry, but I was disappointed.
jckeen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is meant for a more mature group of readers as it deals with teen pregnancy. First Part Last is told through the eyes of the young father who is suddenly thrown into the role of a dad. Why he has custody of the baby we do not know at first--but that's the beauty of the book. Reading this, I tried to put myself in his shoes as he attempted to be a regular high school student, with the usual issues of friends, classes, girlfriend, and family--all the while discovering what it was going to take to be a father and responsible for another human being.
JasmineW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a young african american boy whose girlfriend is pregnant. They are only babies themselves having a baby. Something will happen to Nia, his girlfriend. Doctor visits and now formula and diapers. The book is told through "then" and "now" moments. What will happen? Will they keep the baby? Or give the baby up for adoption?The idea I have with this book is to do a role play of the characters of the book. There will be a group of about 5. One to play Bobby, one to play Nia, one to play the sitter, and two to play the friends. The students will read Part I of the book and act out how they think Part II will occur using each of the 5 characters. The groups should pick up on where we were left off in Part I and continue on in role playing. My second idea for the book is for the students to finish reading the book and read Heaven, which the class will read anyway. After reading both books by the same author, we will have a grand conversation about the similiarities and differences among the writing of both novels. The students can make some text-to-text connections between the two as well during our conversations. I actually didn't enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. I don't think I would share the book with middle grade readers. I'm not sure if I like the transitions between "now" and "then" through the book. However, I think that was different and neat. I don't like the outcome of the book. I would only give it 3 stars, which is nice. I'm not sure why I didn't get into the book as much as I thought I would. Maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea. on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love the way this book is written, keeping the reader guessing as it starts off with the main character, who is a young high school teen, at home taking care of the baby he and his girlfriend had. The relationships he has with his parents, his girlfriend¿s parents and his friends are so real. Their reactions to teenage pregnancy and the consequences really show the challenges to raising a child while still a child. I was glad that this book focused more on the young man and his struggles because too often the young women who have children are left as the focal point of stories and films about teen pregnancy.
jenniferthomp75 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This Printz winner packs a powerful punch for being so slim. 16 year old Bobby is a new father and is struggling with how to balance school, fatherhood and being a teenager. When tragedy strikes, he realizes that his own needs aren't so important anymore.I read it in approximately an hour and found that I couldn't put it down. The teens' language is realistic and the parents' reactions are genuine and unexpected. Highly recommended to teens and adults.
AshleyMarkeitaTate on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sixteen-year old Bobby gets quite a surprise on his birthday. He finds out his girlfriend, Nia, is expecting their child. Bobby must learn how to balance school, his girlfriend and his friends, and his daughter, Feather. The couple must also decide if they want to raise their daughter or put her up for adoption and allow her to be raised by happy, smiling people. Bobby also must deal with a devastating loss that could impair his decision. He is forced to grow up way too fast and become the man that everyone knows he can.This book is somewhat necessary, in my opinion, to teach to adolescents. With the teenage pregnancy rates so high, and with the media seemingly sensationalizing the trend, it is refreshing to see a real stance on the subject. Students would see the hardships and the sacrifices that Bobby had to make to raise his daughter in a way that he felt right. There is no more hanging out all day; there are only diapers and formula to take care of. I think this is a great story to help teens be more aware of the dangers of unprotected sex.I loved the story. Having it all from Bobby¿s perspective and the flashbacks helped me understand more about his life. I felt a sense of sympathy for him because it seemed like he was very smart (he was preparing to graduate from high school at age sixteen), but he just made a couple of bad decisions when it came to sex. Reading about how he wanted better for Feather and how determined he was to be her everything made me all the more endeared to Bobby. He owned up to what he had done and he was determined not to let Feather down. I don¿t think a lot of teenage boys would have went the route Bobby chose to (especially with Nia¿s condition), I believe most guys would not have been able to handle the stress and strain of raising a child all on their own. I want a part two to read more about their journey in Heaven, Ohio!
renee.nevils on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson is a well written book about a teenage boy dealing with his girlfriend's teenage pregnancy. One thing that is refreshing about this novel is that it is told from the young man's point of view and shows his dilema's. All along, Bobby's voice, which narrates the story, wavers between great love for his daughter and panic at his situation, but the emotional heart of the story never falters
Nicole_16 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sixteen year old Bobby is faced with the challenges of raising his new born daughter, Feather, without her mother. During the story Bobby finds different ways to cope with this new life. He is responsible for the baby's bath, sleeping times, feedings, and babysitters. He has financial and emotional support from his family, but has to learn to make the best decisions for he and his daughter. There are two important ideas in this book that would be good for teachers to discuss with adolescents; teenage parenting and responsibility. Usually teen moms are the ones who normally raise the new baby. However, in this story the father of the baby is the one cares for the baby girl. This would be a good book to use to compare to a story of a teenage mother. The teacher can also emphasize that even though one may have their parent's support, teenage parenting is never easy. Likewise, responsibility is a great idea to discuss with the class. Without Bobby being responsible, Feather may have not received the care she needed to survive. The idea of responsibility can also be used to discuss the responsibility that students have in their daily life.I really enjoyed reading this book. It was the type of book that once you pick it up, you do not want to put it down. While reading the book, I never knew what to think of the mother since she was not mentioned until close to the end. It was devastating when I found out that something happened to her where she ended up with brain damage and could not even take care of her self. Bobby was faced with some big challenges,but in the end decided to keep his baby girl. This story is truly inspirational for those in this particular situation. On the other hand, it could also help those who think they want to be teenage parents change their minds.
mbuch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is full of heart-wrenching issues for 16-year-old Bobby. He has his hands full with responsiblities and challenges that test his resilience and tenacity. With the hardships following his daughter's birth, Bobby shows strength in the decisions he makes. Bobby finds out that his daughter, Feather, is sick, after which his increasing maturity becomes apparent Feather's mother is in such bad condition that she requires assistant living at all times and Bobby is forced to live and raise Feather without her. This story is touching due to its possibility of reality, however, I found this book slightly unrealistic and unlikely. I find Bobby's mistakes and pressures realistic, but I struggle with the likeliness that a 16-year-old would be able to mature so quickly or act as unselfishly as he does while raising his dauhter.Honors and Awards: Printz Award (2004) Coretta Scott King Award (Author, 2004) South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee (2005-2006) ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2004) ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2008)
crochetbunnii on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Personal Response:I most enjoyed how this story began after the birth of Feather, and worked backwards to explain how Bobby got to where he was, much like most people do when they examine their lives. As Bobby laments early in the story, "But I figure if the world were really right, humans would live life backward and do the first part last. They'd be all knowing in the beginning and innocent in the end."Curricular Connections:I would include this book in a book group on realistic fiction about teens making tough decisions or teen parenthood.
thelittlereader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
though clearly written for a young audience (grade 6 and up, possibly), the subject of raising a baby as a young single father doesn¿t miss the mark and Johnson doesn¿t hedge the topic in any way. the story is about the 16 year old Bobby, a tender and spunky teenage boy, who finds out that his young girlfriend Nia is pregnant. they consider adoption, but when Nia falls into a coma during childbirth, Bobby decides to keep Feather, propelling him into the life of a single father."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."the writing is very simple and very direct, written in language that doesn¿t try to pretend that Bobby¿s world is an easy one. and yet, Bobby¿s tenderness towards both Nia and Feather is heartfelt and honest. the story is told in alternate sections - now, recalling what life with the new baby is like, and then, detailing his relationship with the mother Nia and the pregnancy and birth of Feather, and reads very quickly (maybe 2 hours total to finish the book for me?).but, despite its simplicity and short length, this book definitely packs a punch. through Bobby, we see life from a different perspective and we share his tears and his smiles, his first moments with Feather and his absolute fear of being a failure. everything that a young, single father might feel is captured in a stark and captivating honesty that is both lyrical and haunting."I figure if the world were really right, humans would live life backward and do the first part last. They¿d be all knowing in the beginning and all innocent in the end."definitely recommended for young adults and those that might be young single parents. a wonderful read and a well deserved Printz Award winner!
KarenBower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson is one of my favorite young adult books. Although teen pregnancy is a somewhat common topic in young adult literature, Johnson covers it in a very unique, captivating way in The First Part Last. The two defining features of this novel for me are the male protagonist and the setting alternating between present (now) and past (then) throughout the story. I appreciated the male protagonist because it seems to me that it is uncommon in literature about teen pregnancy. I think it is good especially for young men to see another male take responsiblity and really want to be an active parent even though it means making many sacrifices. Too often in literature and news the single parent home is run by the mother. So I am thankful Johnson created such a strong, passionate male protagonist. Normally when I am reading alternating time frames, I end up wanting to read all of one time frame at a time. However in this book, I was captivated from start to finish. Each chapter felt like just enough time spent in that setting before switching. It was a unique way to present a common theme and I definitely enjoyed it. Overall I think this is a wonderful book not only for recreational reading, but high school classrooms covering teen issues.
SFM13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bobby has to be a man before he is done being a boy. At 16 yrs. he is the father of Feather. Nia, his daughter's mother, has fallen into an irreversible coma. (assumed to be caused by childbirth). The baby that Bobby and Nia once agreed to put up for adoption is now the only memory Bobby has of Nia, so he decides to keep the baby and raise her himself. Sleepless nights, fussy baby, messy diapers, and formula in the bottle as well as spit-up. Feather consumes Bobby's world. The story is written in alternating scenarios Then and Now. THEN Bobby would pull pranks, party with friends, and get "juiced" tagging walls. NOW he must focus on school and his daughter. He tells her about her mother and takes Feather to see Nia at the nursing home. As the story ends Bobby leaves New York for Heaven,Ohio. He will leave to live with his brother Paul. Taking life as it comes, in Heaven, with Feather. The new start seems to be positive and fresh. I think with Paul, as a young father himself, Bobby will learn to be the man he needs to be
DuffieJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The First Part Last, by Angela Johnson, tells the story of a 16 year old boy named Bobby who is struggling with raising his young daughter Feather. The plot is revealed slowly using the natural language of a sixteen year old. Gradually we are made aware that the mother is not in either Bobby or Feather's life. Eventually, we realize that she lapsed into a coma while giving birth.This book highlights the love that a child can bring into a father's life but does not sugarcoat the amount of responsibility it takes to raise a child. I would ultimately recommend this book to middle and high school students because it does not seem to paint an unrealistic picture of having a child at such a young age. Bobby struggles a lot throughout the book. His daughter is presented as adding to his emotional life but making all other aspects of his life a lot more difficult. I think that this is an endearing book about a situation that has the possibility of affecting teens who do not protect themselves during sexual intercourse. The First Part Last is the winner of the 2004 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and the 2004 Coretta Scott King Awared.