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.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In Genesis Begins Again, thirteen-year-old Genesis grapples with intense self-hate worsened by her father’s verbal abuse and her grandmother’s backward ideologies about skin color. Readers first meet Genesis when she brings her “friends” home for the first time. In an embarrassing turn of events, they arrive to meet all her belongings in the street. The landlord has put Genesis’s family out because her gambling, alcoholic father defaulted on the rent, again.
Things seem to look up for their family when they move into a posh neighborhood. Genesis makes new friends, joins the school choir, and even gets a helpful math tutor. Yet, her self-hate follows her.In Genesis Begins Again, thirteen-year-old Genesis grapples with intense self-hate worsened by her father's verbal abuse and her grandmother's backward ideologies about skin color. Click To Tweet
Told in Genesis’s slangy voice, the novel flows naturally. She goes to shocking, unthinkable lengths to change her skin color. My heart ached for Genesis as she did everything from bathing in milk to scrubbing with a scouring pad to rid herself of her black skin. I caught myself doubting a couple of times, but the rise of bleaching creams shows me how far people are willing to go.
Williams addresses the roots of Genesis’s self-hate and shows in Troy –Genesis’s dark-skinned friend and math tutor — that young people can overcome self-hate. It is also clear that when a person dislikes themselves, their desire for acceptance intensifies. This is true in Genesis’s case. She constantly desires friendships from people who could care less and ignores those who genuinely love her.
This book also includes an underlying message of accepting people and loving people despite their differences. In her portrayal of Genesis’s parents and grandmother, the author shows that parents can harm their children with their words. They also hurt their kids when they fail to pay close enough attention.
Music fans will enjoy the references to Beyonce, Ella Fitzerald, and other icons. I liked watching Genesis find and embrace the power of her voice.Genesis Begins Again is a phenomenal middle-grade debut with a strong message about colorism, self-love, and the power of music. Click To Tweet
Genesis Begins Again is a remarkable middle-grade debut with a strong message about colorism, self-love, and the power of music. There are, however, scenes of verbal abuse and self-hurt that highly-sensitive readers may find disturbing. Breathe deep and go slow. These issues must be seen and discussed. I would 100 percent recommend this novel.
Genesis Begins Again is out Jan 15.
Have you read any books with a focus on colorism? Please leave me your recommendations!