Study Guide

The First Part Last Summary

By Angela Johnson

The First Part Last Summary

The novel is split into alternating chapters—then and now. Then chapters all lead up to the moment of Feather's birth, and the now chapters are all about Bobby dealing with his new role as a single father, including all the difficulties and problems he has. The story lines resolve in the last chapter.

Our book opens with Bobby holding Feather and recognizing something in his life must change. Bobby then flashes back to his sixteenth birthday, when his girlfriend Nia reveals that she is pregnant.

In present day, Bobby thinks of Just Frank, who was killed trying to protect a girl from assault. And then, in a flashback, Bobby reveals Nia's pregnancy to his parents, who are stunned. And not in a good way.

In present day, Bobby thinks that he doesn't know what to give his daughter, but realizes that his presence is enough for her. In the past, Bobby and Nia reveal Nia's pregnancy to her parents.

When Bobby takes Feather to the pediatrician's office—whom he shares as a doctor, which is kind of weird, but also not that weird since Bobby's only sixteen—he tells the doctor that he's tired. In a flashback, he and Nia go to the obstetrician and Bobby tries to take a vested interest in the baby, but Nia kind of shuts him down. Poor Bobby.

Bobby is a little frazzled in present day. Feather was sick last night, and his mom's out of town, so he takes Feather to his neighbor Coco's and sleeps while Coco entertains the baby. In the past, Bobby tells his friends J. L. and K-Boy that Nia's pregnant. His two friends don't really know how to react.

When Bobby gets caught sleeping in British Literature and his teacher admonishes him, Bobby thinks that no one understands what he's going through. In a flashback, Bobby remembers how much Nia used to eat while pregnant, and then the two, um, disappear into Nia's room for some personal time. Fade to black.

After Feather pukes on Bobby, he realizes that he'll be late to school after cleaning her up, so he takes her to Coco, who agrees to watch her for the day. Then Bobby grabs some spray paint. In the past, Bobby and his friends are pulling a prank on a teacher, but then Bobby finds out that Nia has been rushed to the hospital for some reason. He runs to her, and this is when he feels the baby move for the first time.

Bobby finds a wall and creates an intricate, beautiful mural about how he feels about Nia, Feather, and his life. When he awakens from his artistic trance, it's to find that the day is gone and he's being arrested. He remembers a perfect day with Nia and his friends, which is pretty much the exact opposite of this day for him.

Once Bobby's dad picks him up from the station, Bobby realizes that he has to face the music: a disappointed neighbor, a livid mother, and an angry baby. In the past, Nia mentions that her parents are thinking of sending her away to finish out her pregnancy; Bobby tells her not to go.

As Bobby copes with fatherhood, he feels old. In the past at a party, Nia tells him that she isn't ready to be a mother.

When Bobby's brother Paul visits with his two kids, the two are able to go for a walk by themselves, and Bobby reveals his love for Feather. Paul describes where he lives—Heaven, Ohio—to Bobby. In the past, Bobby and Nia hear about adoption as an option.

Because of the graffiti incident, Bobby and Feather go to live with Bobby's father; Mary cries when she drops the two off, which is unusual for her. In the past, Bobby and Nia decide to give the baby up for adoption, and while their parents are happy, they grieve.

After Bobby drops his daughter off at the babysitter's and goes to school, he cuts out early and he, K-Boy, and J. L. go to see Nia at a nursing home. (We start to get an idea of what happened to Nia.) When they return, Bobby picks up Feather, sees a letter on the table from his brother, and tells Feather about Nia.

In the only chapter from Nia's perspective, she talks about her dream of being a balloonist and flying away. She thinks she's dying now, though, as she lies bleeding in her bed.

Bobby tells Feather what he did that day: He and his friends went to see Nia because she's in a coma and most likely has brain damage. When Feather was born and Nia went into the coma, Bobby refused to sign the adoption papers.

In a much more detailed version of the past, we see what really happened to Nia. Bobby runs to the hospital after hearing Nia has been rushed there. The doctors reveal to Bobby, his parents, and Nia's parents that Nia has eclampsia and is in an irreversible vegetative coma. After he meets Feather for the first time, Bobby refuses to sign the adoption papers; he loves his daughter and knows that he needs to be her father.

In present day, Bobby knows that if he stays in New York, he won't make it as a father. So he decides to move to Heaven, Ohio, where his brother Paul lives. It's hard for Bobby to say goodbye to Nia and the city and his friends, but the fresh start with his brand new daughter feels right to him.

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