Genesis Begins Again is contemporary middle grade fiction following a 13-year-old girl, Genesis, who not only doesn’t like herself, but who has internalized racism. In addition to this narrative, there is a close look at a family who is trying to hold it together while facing addictions, economic challenges, and racial discrimination within their own family. It is an emotional struggle at times to see the hurt that family members inflict on each other. Oddly and unexpectedly though, this book is ultimately hopeful and optimistic.
Genesis’ self-loathing is heartbreaking; however, this is an aspect that makes this story accessible to a wide range of readers. At that middle grade age, all are struggling to find their place at school, their identity, and to love themselves in spite of and perhaps because of their flaws and the things they wish were different about themselves. This is a universal quest. This quest can even chase a few even into their adult years.
Deep themes, authentic characters, and an honest look make this a book well worth a middle school reader’s time. Highly recommended.
Profanity/Language: 6 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities.
Violence/Gore: Threat to punch someone; self-inflicted skin lightening treatment resulting in minor injuries; minor burns from hot iron while straightening hair.
Sex/Nudity: Girls call out to boys in flirty manner; girl notices boys who are cute; boy puts arm around a girl and puts hand over girl’s hand, but this is in a friendly rather than romantic gesture.
Mature Subject Matter:
Gambling, alcohol addiction, poverty/economic hardship, racism, discrimination, bullying, honesty/lying, stealing.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Adult smokes; report of character drinking and becoming drunk in the past; character drinks often and too much (alcoholic); character is supposed to go to AA meetings but does not; character pours out parent’s alcohol.