Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

Genesis comes home to find all the furniture out on the lawn because he father has failed to pay the rent again.  Genesis adds "being embarrassed by the entire neighborhood seeing them out on the street" to her list of things she hates about herself.  She also hates how dark-skinned she is and that people call her names like "eggplant" and "charcoal".  Even her father complains about how dark she is, especially when he has been drinking. This time the family moves to a large house in the suburbs and Genesis attends a school with a predominantly white population.  She is happy to make two friends fairly quickly who don't seem to care about her color at all.  She is further surprised when her choir teacher encourages her to audition for the school talent show.  Even though Genesis' life at school is going well, there are warning signs at home.  Like the failure to pay rent notice she intercepts on the front door and the hidden bottles of alcohol she finds after her dad promised to stop drinking.  And none of the skin lightening treatments Genesis has been trying have helped at all so she feels it might be time to try something more drastic.

The theme of internalized self-hate in this book is so well done as Genesis struggles with who she is.  And it's not just her inner monologue, she's surrounded by other people saying some pretty nasty things to her as well which would make anyone really question their identity.  I love both of her new friends who are so great and loyal but not in a making-a-big-point-of-how-accepting-they-are way.  I am disappointed that Genesis' mom hasn't been able to make the break with her dad but I can really appreciate how the author has Mom talk about not being able to leave entirely yet and how she never wanted to be one of those women and yet knows she is.  But I still judge her a little.  My complaints are that it feels like a debut novel in that it could've been pared down quite a bit AND I think the ending wraps up a few threads too neatly when it comes to Genesis finding her voice.  But I will still be happy to sell it to my students and I believe they will love it!

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