Book Review: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

Title: Genesis Begins Again
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Genre: MG/YA Own Voices Contemporary Fiction
Page Count: 385 pages
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Release Date: January 15, 2019

Publisher’s Summary: 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?

My Thoughts: I don’t even know where to begin with Genesis Begins Again. This book is beautiful, moving, heartbreaking, charming, inspiring, devastating, and everything in between. This is simply a phenomenal work of YA Own Voices Fiction about a girl learning how to love herself. It also takes place in metro-Detroit, where I live, which was pretty cool. I was so invested in Genesis’s story—everything from her personal internal struggles with her skin tone and her flawed but well-meaning father, to her new teachers and classmates and profound musical talent—I found it impossible to put this book down even to eat a meal. Memorable was her newfound friendship with a Greek classmate suffering from OCD, and the contrast between the two girls. I absolutely adored everything about this book and enthusiastically recommend it.

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