Book Review: Genesis Begins Again

For today’s book review, I selected Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams with my middle and high school therapy clients in mind. Though this book is written for that age group; as an adult, I found the novel to be very compelling, as it addresses the issue of colorism in a way I haven’t seen before. So let’s get started!

Topics Covered

Social injustice has a direct impact on the mental health of those who encounter it, so I’ll spare you further explanation for why it’s on my mental health blog; rather, I’ll focus on the book’s portrayal of colorism, classism, and Eurocentric beauty standards and their impacts on folx of color.

Classism

The story’s main character Genesis Anderson is thirteen; however, she’s spent most of her young life moving around due to housing insecurity. The Anderson family is evicted often due to her father’s gambling and alcohol addictions. Though Genesis has no control over these circumstances, she is made fun of by her peers for her family’s financial struggles… Middle school…

Colorism

I’ve written previously on the topic of colorism; however, this novel does a fantastic job of illustrating how colorism plays out within communities of color. Just look at the book’s cover (above)! Genesis feels insecure because she’s highly melanated, whereas her mother is “light-skinned.” The value society places on lighter skin is engrained deeply into Genesis’ family with shameful practices like the “brown paper bag test” and the concept of “marrying up”. Colorism resulted in bullying and self-hatred for Genesis; pushing her to try some silly and sometimes dangerous methods to lighten her skin including:

  • Baths with bleach
  • Baths with milk
  • Yogurt facials
  • Rubbing lemons on skin
  • Exfoliating with scour pads (ouch!!)
  • Ordering a skin bleaching cream

Eurocentric Beauty Standards

Though the last section touched on how white skin has long been seen as the standard of beauty, the book also addresses other key issues related to eurocentrism. The author touches on the nuances of hair texture, nose, lip, and eye shapes. This is important because many generations of Black children have dealt with dysmorphia related to their African physical traits resulting from these eurocentric beauty ideals, tracing back to chattel slavery.

Noteworthy Quotes

“Look at you, thick lips, big nose, nappy hair, and blacker than black!”

“Every single night, I’ve prayed for God to make me beautiful, make me light, and every morning I wake up exactly the same.”

Conclusion

I enjoyed Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams and would definitely recommend it for 7th grade and up (was shocked to see the recommended range was 4-8th grade). I enjoyed the Audible version, but you can find it in other formats here (paid links.)

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One thought on “Book Review: Genesis Begins Again”

  1. Ashley says:

    Baths with bleach – yikes!

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