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Genesis Begins Again

by Alicia D. Williams

Kirkus Thirteen-year-old Genesis Anderson is a black girl who has been dealt a heavy hand in life.She's had to move several times because her family keeps getting evicted thanks to her alcoholic, gambling father, who defaults on the rent. Genesis hates her circumstances, and even more, she hates the skin she's in. Dark-skinned like her fatherwho takes no pride in their resemblance, especially when he's drunk and meanGenesis wants nothing more than to look like her light-skinned mother. With kids calling her names (Charcoal, Eggplant, Blackie) and a chiding grandmother who spouts backward colorist ideologies, it's no wonder. Genesis desperately wants to be accepted, even causing herself physical pain to change the look of her skin and hair in order to attain it. But Genesis has a talent that demands that she stand out. With the help of her chorus teacher, Genesis discovers a way to navigate the pain she carries. With smooth and engrossing prose, debut novelist Williams takes readers through an emotional, painful, yet still hopeful adolescent journey. Along the way she references accomplished black activists, athletes, artists, and, notably, musicians such as Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James, all in a way that feels natural and appropriate. This book may bring readers to tears as they root for Genesis to finally have the acceptance she cravesbut from herself rather than anyone else. It's a story that may be all too familiar for too many and one that needed telling. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Horn Book After her family is evicted (again), thirteen-year-old Genesis has to worry about a new home and school, as well as the unraveling of her family from past secrets. Teased for her dark skin and kinky hair, Genesis feels invisible, unloved, and un-pretty; her journey teaches her that beauty really is only skin deep. Williams's debut also addresses the consequences of addiction and the instability that goes along with it. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Her dad is an alcoholic with a gambling problem who never pays the rent, so her family keeps getting evicted from their homes. But that's not the only reason Genesis hates herself. Mostly it's because she is dark-skinned, and she wishes she were lighter. Genesis tries multiple ways to lighten her skin and help her family, both with disappointing results. Only after she learns to appreciate herself for who she is does everything else starts to fall into place. The year in the life style of this story gives readers an opportunity to look into someone's day-to-day, observing experiences that might be quite different from or similar to their own. This lengthy debut includes many common tropes the inspirational teacher, the group of best friends, the mean girls but its final message is powerful and challenges Genesis to define her life on her own terms, not society's. Genesis comes out stronger in the end, and the reader who sticks with her story will hopefully feel the same.--Florence Simmons Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Genesis comes home from school to find her family's belongings on the lawn; they've been evicted again. Her father promises that this next time will be different, renting a house in the suburbs and promising that he will get a promotion at work so they can afford it. At school, Genesis makes friends for the first time and is mentored by Mrs. Hill, the choir teacher, but Genesis's father still drinks too much and her parents' marriage is unraveling. Genesis tries lightening her skin, begs to be able to use relaxer in her hair, and keeps a list of things she hates about herself, believing that if she only looked like her light-skinned mother and not her dark-skinned father, the situation at home would improve. This message is hammered home by her father's cruel comments and her grandmother's story of the "brown paper bag" test. Genesis escapes by singing; she is inspired by greats like Billie Holiday and Etta James. When she has the opportunity to sing in the school talent show, Genesis must find the power in using her voice to speak her truth. Genesis' struggles are age appropriate but do not shy away from the hard truth about colorism within the Afro American community. Through each character, readers come to understand the significance of how one's story plays out in reactions and interactions with the people around them. The hopeful but not happy ending adds to the realism and emotional impact of this powerful story. VERDICT This is a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a girl grappling with hard truths about her family and her own feelings of self-worth. A must for all collections.-Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.