First Part Last
by Angela Johnson

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Bobby had a pretty good life in New York City. Sure, his parents are divorced but he enjoyed good relationships with both of them. He was close to his brother, who now lived in Heaven, Ohio. He had a good time with his friends and he had a beautiful girlfriend, Nia. But, on his sixteenth birthday, Nia gives him some big news: she’s pregnant.

Told in alternating chapters between the past (Nia’s pregnancy) and present (Bobby’s life as a single father to baby, Feather), Johnson describes how a baby can drastically change the life of a teenager. Bobby is a supportive boyfriend and feels overwhelming love for his daughter, yet he also wonders how his life could have been had none of this ever happened. Bobby’s emotions are portrayed so vividly, and readers will feel his frustration and exhaustion, as well as his joy and hope. The relationship between Bobby and his infant daughter is beautifully illustrated, and it’s interesting to see the relationship between Bobby and his friends change. It would have been good to get more of a glimpse of the relationship between Bobby and his parents. We can see that his parents are basically good people, that his mother will take some responsibility with Feather but not as much as his father. It would have been nice, though, to have seen more. All we really know about Bobby’s relationship with them is that he occasionally refers to them by their first names.

Readers may find themselves a bit confused by the frequent jumps in time and the unexplained absence of Nia in Feather’s life. (The answer to that is given towards the end of the book). The format actually works, however, as we see the differences between Bobby as the “regular” teenager and Bobby as a single father. And the mystery surrounding Nia just gives readers another reason to not want to put the short book down.

For another book about a teenage father with a different resolution, read Hanging on to Max by Margaret Bechard.

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