Study Guide

The First Part Last Genre

By Angela Johnson

Genre

Young Adult Literature; Coming-of-Age; Family Drama

Young Adult Literature

It's pretty clear how The First Part Last is classified as young adult literature. It's about teen pregnancy, our main character is only sixteen, and becoming a parent aside, there are a lot of experiences that are fairly typical for most teenagers: uncertainty about the future, making mistakes, and learning how to recover from these mistakes. Not every teen will relate to the pregnancy story line, but most teens will relate to how Bobby almost succumbs to the irresponsibility that is part and parcel of being a teenager.

And don't forget, Bobby's voice is totally accessible; his language is sparse and poignant, and just the right level for young adults to latch onto. So if you’re looking for this book, YA shelves would be a good place to start.

Coming-of-Age

When Bobby first finds out Nia is pregnant, he's just come home from a day of skipping school with his friends. This is a really different Bobby from the one we see at the end, the one who looks out of the window with his daughter in their new apartment in a small town two states away from New York.

There is a lot of change in this novel, especially within Bobby. Because Bobby takes on the role of single fatherhood, he can no longer shirk any of his responsibilities, make impromptu trips to the arcade, skip school, or any of that. It's all about Feather now. And his mental state reflects the physical shifts. We see Bobby become more mature, more honest, and more accepting of the sacrifices he knows he has to make for his daughter. This self-awareness is a real mark of adulthood, so while he may still be a teen, we feel confident that he's quite adult at heart.

Family Drama

While much of this book is about Bobby's struggle to come to terms with becoming an adult pretty much over night, this book still sends a shout-out to the family drama genre because the reason Bobby has to grow up so quickly is that he finds himself becoming a parent. And nothing says family quite like oh man, I'm a Dad now. In other words, though the drama we see is largely inside Bobby, the reason it's there at all is because he is grappling with having a family of his own.

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