Genesis Begins Again

384p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. Jan. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481465809.
RedReviewStarGr 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.

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