Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
Synopsis: 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?
Publication Date: January 15th, 2019
This book was so really relatable to me, and I found myself that I could relate to Genesis on so many levels. Before, I went into high school, and joined the musical, I hated myself so much. I blamed myself for telling people that I had anxiety, and depression and how no one actually cares. I thought I was a freak, some weirdo. I felt so self-conscious about myself especially looking at others. I didn’t love myself, and I know that’s like so hard to see since I back then I didn’t share anything much until a few months ago, where I started opening up more. I was afraid of someone would judge me and would mock me, and say I’m too negative, or something else.
Genesis to me reminds me of myself, she hates herself especially because she is constantly reminded that she is too dark to her family, and always makes comparison. That’s me right there. Constantly, I look at myself and to my family and notice that my skin is darker than theirs, that I don’t fit in. The one thing I really get self-conscious about besides that, is the fact that I hate that I see people with a normal tooth instead of a crown on one of them when I chipped it years ago. I get picked on a lot by my family, reminding me that my hair is thick as my mother’s or that the fact that I get skinny-shamed by my own step-brother, and no one does a thing, because its my fault for having it. It hurts, because I can’t change a thing about it, because it’s the truth. I am too skinny, but reminding me that I should eat more or eat steak and pork everyday to fatten me up, that’s tiring. I feel like I have no power, and it’s my fault. No matter how much I eat, I can’t get fat enough to please my family, and it also doesn’t help, if I’m unable to eat things that’s good for me. It’s not like I’m allergic to things, it’s just that my body is unable to disgust it and sits like a brick in my stomach for hours.
I don’t love myself, I don’t feel confident, nor do I have much self-esteem especially what happened nearly a year ago, and every other instances in my life. I like how everyone’s saying that I do a good job, that they believe in me, be confident, being supportive of what’s happening with my family and all that, and I just feel like they’re only saying that just to make me feel better. I feel like its sad that I don’t believe them that no matter what I do, I feel like I’m not good enough. This was me recently, especially what’s happening recently (recently meaning October to now).
I still struggle with all of this so much. Like it became my everyday life, and now that the Musical is slowly drawing a close (and me kinda grateful that it’s almost over, because it was really stressful for the last few weeks). (Also, by the time this review comes up, the musical will finally be over.) It taught me that I could be confident, and the fact that I actually regret not doing it before, on my own especially since I’m the only flute player in the pit and that I found something else to be passionate about. How I actually matter especially in those solo parts, and how people believe in me since nobody else actually did. It just feels weird. Like all my life, or well most of it, I was told that I was unable to do it, I wasn’t talented, or that I was stupid. Yet, here I am writing this sharing about how the musical helped me in a good way and how I feel more confident in myself than I ever been.
Nearly 600 words later, I think I should get on track and not about myself, but I swear this was a point in this very long rambling. Genesis also had a lot of going on especially since she’s dealing with her family issues, especially with her father’s habit of drinking and gabbling too much. I like that she found her voice and goes through an amazing change from where she hated herself and had a nice list of why people hated her which she gone by (Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t do that) a lot during the book, but during the end, she found friends that won’t call her names, some of her family problems are solved (I won’t spoil that), and she found her passion in singing.
The fact that this book has so many meaningful representation with an African American girl trying to come to terms with herself, dealing with racism that’s different than the day to day. What I mean by that, this book deals with the prejudice of having darker or lighter skin when you’re African American. I loved how that book deals with that. Poverty plays a huge part in this book, academic struggles, finding friends and parents having an addiction plays a huge role and how it shapes young Genesis.
Genesis goes through so much things that shapes her person to be a better one in the end. Her adventure was amazing and how it shaped her to be someone positive, and not very self-loathing about herself.
Can we talk about that part where Genesis pretends that she has a medical condition which she doesn’t. The author actually called out people pretending to have a mental illness when they actually don’t. I was so happy about that, because I’m sick of people saying they have a mental illness when they actually don’t or when they say they joke about killing themselves when they don’t. Like seriously, mental illness isn’t cool. If you want one, then you could have my depression and anxiety and tell me how you feel afterwards, it’s not fun nor is it cool, because when there are people out their suffering from mental illness, nobody takes them seriously and they’re unable to get the help they need. We’re often told that it’s all in our head, and no one could take us seriously.
The one thing I really have to complain about was, using the word “stinkin” or “dope” in a conversation like seriously, I don’t think people say that. After people say yeet and dab, that wouldn’t surprise me if they do. I see weird things a lot especially during school, but it just got really annoying. I think it was attempt for teenagers to say, but really everyone says normal things.
Honestly, if you made it to the end of this long rant then congratulations. This book was really worth it, and I loved it if you really couldn’t tell. It has such a powerful message to it, and needs more readers, because it’s such an interesting new release.