Friday, April 15, 2022

Book Spotlight: Take My Hand

 TAKE MY HAND (Berkley Hardcover; April 12, 2022) reckons with the forced sterilization of Black women, inspired by true events in the 1970s American South, for readers of An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray.  

Dolen Perkins-Valdez was inspired to write TAKE MY HAND by a 1973 lawsuit on behalf of Minnie Lee and Alice Relf. The Relf sisters were only twelve and fourteen years old when they were surgically sterilized without their knowledge in a federally-funded Montgomery clinic. At age 29, Joseph Levin—co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center—filed a lawsuit on the sisters’ behalf, shining a spotlight on the 150,000 impoverished victims across the county. TAKE MY HAND is a fictionalized account of this significant event.

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.

1 comment:

Helen's Book Blog said...

This book sounds so powerful and like a book that is difficult to read, but necessary. Thank you!