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A Newbery Honor Book
Winner of the Correta Scott King - John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award
A Morris Award Finalist
An NPR Favorite Book of 2019
A School Library Journal Best Middle Grade Book of 2019
A Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Book of 2019
This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who 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?
About the Author
Alicia D. Williams is the author of Genesis Begins Again, which received Newbery and Kirkus Prize honors, was a William C. Morris Award finalist, and for which she won the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award for New Talent; and picture books Jump at the Sun and The Talk which was also a Coretta Scott King Honor book. An oral storyteller in the African American tradition, she lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Reminiscent of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, but appropriate for a much younger audience.
— New York Times
With its relatable and sympathetic protagonist, complex setting, and exceptional emotional range, this title is easy to recommend.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
Debut novelist Williams takes readers through an emotional, painful, yet still hopeful adolescent journey . . . . [A] story that may be all too familiar for too many and one that needed telling.
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Compelling . . . . Readers will rejoice.
With a name like Genesis, it’s hard to be the ‘new girl’ at school and remain unnoticed in a suburban classroom, especially if you are self-conscious about how you look. Teenaged Genesis struggles to accept both her skin color and her place in her complicated family. Alicia D. Williams skillfully develops a character who—with the help of friends, teachers, and some awesome bluesy music—learns to love herself and her family as she realizes that black is indeed beautiful. I really loved this debut novel.
— Sharon M. Draper, author of the New York Times bestseller Out of My Mind
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
— School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW