The First Part Last

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The First Part Last Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
A realistic look at being a teen parent.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 33 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This book is told in lyrical language that will capture teens, as will the compelling subject matter. Readers will appreciate this honest look at teen pregnancy and that it is told from an unusal perspective -- the father's.

Positive Messages

Doesn't gloss over the difficulties of teen parenting, but  also highlights the joy and love that are just as much a part of raising a baby as diapers and lack of sleep.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teen parenthood is not glamorized. Bobby and Nia must navigate their way through a very tough road of their own making. Bobby, the only fleshed-out character in the story, is an unusually sweet teen, fully open to the emotions of fatherhood, and willing to do whatever it takes to do the right thing.

Violence

Not an issue.

Sex

A somewhat graphic sex scene after Nia is pregnant.

Language

Swearing typical of teens.

Consumerism

Not an issue.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Not an issue.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is an award-winning book about teen parenthood, told from the father's point of view. Teen parenthood is not glamorized. Bobby and Nia must navigate their way through a very tough road of their own making.  This book is told in lyrical language that will capture teens, as will the compelling subject matter. Some parents may find  attitude toward underage sex is too casual, as shown when Bobby and Nia have sex again after she becomes pregnant. Nevertheless, it's a realistic look at being a teen parent.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5-year-old Written by10210 October 5, 2010
i luv it cause it bring ppl 2 think about what they doing in how they can be affect it.
I luv Bobby cause he step up to his manly duties n took his responsiblit... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 18+-year-old Written byShaySydney August 31, 2010
I read this book and many others like it in middle school. Its realistic drama, and a great read for tweens who like T.V Shows like Degrassi!
Teen, 16 years old Written byurfavoritereader February 10, 2018
Teen, 16 years old Written byAniyahL March 31, 2017

"The First Part Last" is a really good book

"The First Part Last" is a book about a teenage father name Bobby. He goes back and forth from past to present ("then" and "now").... Continue reading

What's the story?

Award-winning author Johnson trains her poetic prose on two secondary characters from her previous novel, Heaven.

In alternating Now and Then chapters, 16-year-old Bobby tells about his girlfriend, Nia's, pregnancy, and his life as sole parent of their baby daughter, Feather, after he refuses to give her up for adoption. He relates his feelings of love and exhaustion, and of missing his childhood and friends, who don't really understand him anymore.

Is it any good?

Angela Johnson deftly manages a delicate balancing act in this book. She doesn't gloss over the difficulties of teen parenting, but she also highlights the joy and love that are just as much a part of raising a baby as diapers and lack of sleep.

Bobby, the only fleshed-out character in the story, is an unusually sweet teen, fully open to the emotions of fatherhood, and willing to do whatever it takes to do the right thing. His family -- divorced parents and older brother -- are all kind and understanding, though unwilling to remove any of the burden from his shoulders. This may make the whole situation seem a bit unreal, but it does focus the reader's attention on the problems that come with the territory, rather than any trumped up by the author for the sake of conflict. It's a simple, gentle way of dealing with a complicated, difficult issue.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the subject matter here.  How does this book compare to other books, movies, or television depictions of teen parenthood? 

  • This book won both a Printz award and was named one of the American Library Association's best books for young adults. Why do you think it was honored with these awards? Does it make any difference to you if a book receives awards or not?

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