Title: Genesis Begins Again
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2019
This book. Alicia D. Williams wrote it before the murder of George Floyd. But I ordered it in response to that event as part of an ongoing effort to educate myself and my children on what it’s like to be a black person in America (and elsewhere). I fully admit that I should have picked it up earlier. And that I should be making more of an effort to diversify my reading.
This book broke my heart. Genesis – a 13-year-old, infinitely likable protagonist – hates her black skin so much that she injures herself trying to lighten it and steals her mom’s credit card to buy bleaching cream. She’s got a whole list of things she doesn’t like about herself (started by bullies at her old middle school in Detroit but added to by Genesis herself) and a difficult family life. Her dad struggles with addiction and can’t hold a job. Her mom works hard to support the family under the judgmental eye of Genesis’ grandma.
Things slowly get better for Genesis when she moves into a new neighborhood; a move forced on her at the beginning of the book when they’re suddenly evicted from their home (again). With a few true friends and a newly discovered talent for music, Genesis starts to accept herself and her family. But Genesis Begins Again doesn’t have one big, happy ending. Her mom doesn’t suddenly get a high paying job and her dad doesn’t magically become sober or quit gambling. This is real life and this book gives readers an unflinching look at how hard things can be for someone like Genesis.
Don’t wait. This is the book you – and your loved ones – need to read. Or at least one of them.