book cover of Take My Hand
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Take My Hand

(2022)
A novel by

 
 
“Deeply empathetic yet unflinching in its gaze…an unforgettable exploration of responsibility and redemption.” —Celeste Ng
 
“Highlights the horrific discrepancies in our healthcare system and illustrates their heartbreaking consequences.” —Essence

 
Inspired by true events that rocked the nation, a searing and compassionate new novel about a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who blows the whistle on a terrible injustice done to her patients, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wench

Montgomery, Alabama, 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend intends to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she hopes to help women shape their destinies, to make their own choices for their lives and bodies.

But when her first week on the job takes her along a dusty country road to a worn-down one-room cabin, Civil is shocked to learn that her new patients, Erica and India, are children—just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica, and their family into her heart. Until one day she arrives at their door to learn the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.

Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace, and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten. That must not be forgotten.

Because history repeats what we don’t remember.

Inspired by true events and brimming with hope,
Take My Hand is a stirring exploration of accountability and redemption.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Take My Hand is a gem: one of those rare and beautiful novels that walks the balance beam of heartbreak and hope. Dolen Perkins-Valdez can breathe life into history through fiction that adds deep and profound meaning to the past - and makes its relevance to the present meaningful and clear." - Chris Bohjalian

"Perkins-Valdez's latest is a piercing look into a shameful moment in America's history, and it could not be more timely. Her electrifying, masterful novel brims with fierce compassion and deserves attention and accolades galore. I will be recommending it to everyone I know." - Fiona Davis

"Delicate and poetic, Dolen manages to fuse beauty and tragedy in her work, which makes her a masterful storyteller and gifted writer. In this story, Dolen speaks eloquently for those who, in being denied the right of having a choice and agency over their bodies, have lost their voice. This haunting tale, captured through the lens of an unforgettable narrator and a cast of memorable characters, will stay with you for a very, very long time." - Nicole Dennis-Benn

"This powerful novel finds the humanity in one of the most inhumane chapters of American history. Take My Hand will enrage you. It will illuminate you. It just might redeem you. In the process, it will take your breath away. I don't say this often, but it's a must-read." - Jamie Ford

"When you know Dolan Perkins-Valdez is writing a book, you know that it is going to be a spectacular thing. And that is the case with Take My Hand. Conveyed as softly as a familial conversation, this is a work that makes difficult things endurable. Perkins-Valdez relays untold pain honestly, astutely, but most of all, gently, like a sage would. That is another way of saying that she crafts this book with great truth and wisdom. As a result, Take My Hand is the kind of rare, elevating, illuminating, useful art that we would all do well to grasp for dear life." - Robert Jones Jr

"Moving, important, and timely, Take My Hand is both a poignant personal story and a riveting courtroom drama. By refusing to accept the status quo, big-hearted, idealistic Civil Townsend sets events in motion that eventually change hearts, minds, and lives, including her own. A perfect book-club pick." - Christina Baker Kline

"Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a brilliant writer in a class all by herself. I love her voice and how she makes the past feel immediate and relevant, because it is." - Terry McMillan

"Deeply empathetic yet unflinching in its gaze...an unforgettable exploration of responsibility and redemption." - Celeste Ng

"Take My Hand will break your heart and lift your soul. A young nurse with big dreams of helping her community comes to an Alabama clinic and is immediately embroiled in the lives of two young Black girls, caught first in the trap of rural poverty and then in the spotlight of a national court case as their mistreatment at the clinic's hands comes out into the open. Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a consummate storyteller: profound, transcendent, heart-wrenching." - Kate Quinn


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