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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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 ha…

Genesis Begins Again

by Alicia D. Williams

Overall Book Review:

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.


Content Analysis:

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.

Overall Book Rating
Profanity/Language
Rating:
2
10
Violence/Gore
Rating:
1
10
Sex/Nudity
Rating:
1
10

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!