The Children’s Book Review | January 31, 2019
Alicia D. Williams’ Selfie with Genesis Begins Again
Selfies are such a hard task for me. Oh, there’s so much pressure to snap that perfect look. For me, the pressure increased after my mom forwarded my PW book deal announcement to my aunt and reports back “your aunt says your forehead looks like it’s gotten bigger.” Whaaa? Ever since then, I’d take a selfie and examine it saying, “Yeah, she’s right . . . my forehead is big. I hate my forehead!” Then I’d promptly delete it. So, for this interview, I planned to don a headscarf and shoot it side profile like Genesis—hiding my, yep, big forehead. But then it hit me that Genesis is struggling with self-acceptance. Her father points out a feature as ugly, despicable and she claims it too. I desire my readers to know that they’re good enough, right? I want them to have the courage to define beauty for themselves, no matter what society, a friend, their aunt, or father says. If I want that for my readers, then darn it, I need to be brave myself! Who says that big foreheads can’t be cute? Who says that small foreheads are the standard for beauty? And why? Why do I have to accept a person’s opinion? (Because we all know people may say things for many shady reasons.) Well, I don’t. So, my selfie is front faced. And, I’m cute, says me.
Alicia D. Williams’ Shelfie
Every room in my house has a bookcase, well, all except for the bathrooms. So, I pulled a few books from each and every shelf and piled them next to one of my cases—it was all about lighting, haha. You might notice my little creative flair with the color coordination—I was on a Pinterest kick. On my shelves are many unread books that I can’t can’t can’t part with because one day I’ll finally get around to reading them. If you look closely, you’ll find books from all genres and even some with library tags. You see, I’m a book rescuer. Our local library sells used books as a fundraiser; I’ve combed the boxes and found some pretty great gems (many are still in my garage—I know, I know, I’ll read them!)
Here’s another thing, I keep my favorite books forever, authors whose crafts I admire and pull out to study, as needed. There’s a good amount of non-fiction work for research and enlightenment too. Even though I love love love stories, my ranch home isn’t large enough to house them all. So, I find good homes for them. When my daughter Nailah was in high school, she held a book drive for Baton Rouge schools to help replace books lost and damaged due to the hurricane. Many schools weren’t in a position to even receive books—it was that terrible. But she did find one and sent over 2,000 books to that school. As a proud mama, I can’t help but to include a screenshot as inspiration. Since then, I’ve donated my books to similar book drives.
Written by Alicia D. Williams
Publisher’s Synopsis: 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?
Ages 9-13 | Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books | January 15, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1481465809
About the Author
Alicia Williams is a graduate of the MFA program at Hamline University. An oral storyteller in the African-American tradition, she is also a kindergarten teacher who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Genesis Begins Again is her debut novel.
Discover more books like ‘Genesis Begins Again,’ written by Alicia D. Williams, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with Family Conflicts, Middle Grade Books, Racism, and Self-Acceptance; and be sure to follow along with our Selfie and a Shelfie series.