The second story in the Heaven trilogy, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson tells the story of Bobby and Feather and how this father-daughter duo from the first installment came to be together.
It’s just as quiet and simple as Heaven, but told in a then/now format that slowly builds to the climax. It’s the right amount of mystery and intrigue without spoiling things and without overpowering the story.
As a teenage father, Bobby is the hero we seldom see. We need more characters like Bobby. He’s a powerful, strong father in Heaven, and The First Part Last allows us to see how he gets there. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s worth the late nights and tired eyes.
Marley has a simple life in a town called Heaven, hanging out with friends and getting letters from her traveling Uncle Jack. Until she learns that her parents aren’t really her parents and she’s set adrift.
Heaven by Angela Johnson is really a simple, quiet story, despite the head-spinning topic. It’s slow building and has a subtle grace.
It’s not the typical urban black youth or witty teen story, and for that alone it’s refreshing.
It’s also the first in a trilogy, though they’re really more three inter-related books that follow connected characters. Each book is self contained and you don’t even need to read them in order. That’s also a refreshing change from the usual YA trilogies.