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Book Review: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams, a teen perspective

Today Elliot, our new teen contributor, shares their first book review with us.

genesisbeginsagainPublisher’s Book Description:

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.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?

Elliot’s Thoughts:


Genesis Begins Again is a story that feels all too real. This story highlights the fact that racism is still very much alive- even from one person of color to another. From a young age, thirteen-year-old Genesis has been told that she’s “too black” and that everyone wishes she looked like her light-skinned mother. The words “too black” ring in her ears day after day…especially because she hears those words all too often from her father: her alcoholic, gambling, dark-skinned father. In order to please her father (and subconsciously herself) Genesis follows any method to try to lighten her skin- rubbing lemons on her flesh, lathering herself in yoghurt, and even taking a bath in bleach. However, Genesis soon discovers that her skin isn’t the problem and that perhaps if she just understands the real issues, a change in her perspective could be the solution that everyone has been looking for.


The characters in Alicia D. William’s novel are some of the best written characters I have ever read. All of the characters have very unique personalities and have reasons for why they act the way that they do. Williams took the time to come up with a backstory for each and every character which makes them very believable and three dimensional. Never have I read a novel where an author paid attention to a character’s backstory as much as Williams did, and I greatly appreciate it because a person’s history is truly what makes a person.


My only complaint about this story is that at times the kids seemed like they were talking with very stereotypical “kid lingo.” That was one of the first things I noticed when I started reading this story. However, the story was so interesting and so deep that I easily pushed past the lingo and simply could not put this book down. Overall, I would give this book 4.5/5 stars for delving into really important issues, having an easy to follow, clear story line, and having very dynamic characters. As a white person, there were a lot of racial issues brought up in this book that I had never thought about before, so I am thankful that Williams brought these issues to light. These are definitely issues that I will be thinking about for years to come and it’s all thanks to Genesis Begins Again!



  1. I just loved it !!! Racism in the world is an issue that affects a lot of people and you have to convince people that you all eat the same despite “differences.”

  2. Well, in my opinion the “kid lingo” is correct. Also I would like to note that the lingo is correct because she is a teacher and picks it up from her students. I would like to note this because she actually is my history teacher and I do have a very close relationship with her and do feel the need to defend her book.

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