Study Guide

The First Part Last Coming of Age

By Angela Johnson

Coming of Age

A lot of YA lit is about kids moving toward adulthood, but not many take the theme as literally as The First Part Last does. Bobby is a father, responsible for a child and able to make life-altering decisions—in other words, he is of age. But he's also a sixteen-year-old kid, who wants to read comics and paint walls and go to arcades. A lot of the tension in the book arises from the fact that, at sixteen, instead of coming-of-age like his peers, Bobby is forced to the end point of the process when he decides to raise Feather by himself. It's not easy, but at least it seems worth it.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. How do Bobby's interactions with his parents change once he becomes a father? What about his interactions with his friends?
  2. In what ways has Bobby grown up by the end of the novel? In what ways is he still a kid?
  3. Who is most responsible for Bobby's maturity, and why do you think this?
  4. Name the "normal" rites of passage that Bobby undergoes in the novel as he moves from teen to adult. Then name some unusual rites of passage.

Chew on This

It isn't the birth of Feather that makes Bobby come of age, it's the moment he decides to raise her.

Sure, Bobby's a dad, but that doesn't make him an adult—he's still in the middle of coming-of-age.

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