Title: Genesis Begins Again
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: January 15, 2019
This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who is filled with self-loathing and must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.
There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.
What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight—Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.
But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?
This is an emotional story about a young girl who learns to love herself.
Genesis goes on a journey throughout this book. She starts out with friends who bully her and her family being evicted. She has to learn to love herself, but she makes many mistakes along the way, such as changing her hair, choosing the wrong friends, and even bleaching her skin.
Genesis is also bullied by her father. It was heartbreaking to see how her father yelled at her and put her down because she had his dark skin instead of her mother’s light skin. It was really difficult to read at times. Her strength was put to the test with all of the abuse, and she can’t be blamed for the things she did.
This book really tugged at my heart. It is an emotional, but powerful, story.
What to read next:
Blended by Sharon M. Draper
Tara Takes the Stage by Tamsin Lane
Have you read Genesis Begins Again? What did you think of it?