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Take My Hand  By  cover art

Take My Hand

By: Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Narrated by: Lauren J. Daggett
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Publisher's Summary

“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.

©2022 Dolen Perkins-Valdez (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“In her newest novel, Dolen Perkins-Valdez probes the many ways institutional racism and classism inflicts lasting scars, especially on young Black women—and the grace, courage, and love needed to begin to heal those wounds. Deeply empathetic yet unflinching in its gaze, Take My Hand is an unforgettable exploration of responsibility and redemption, the dangers of good intentions, and the folly of believing anyone can decide what's best for another's life.” (Celeste Ng, number one New York Times best-selling author of Little Fires Everywhere)

“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, number one New York Times best-selling author) 

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 demonstrates once again the way she 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, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Flight Attendant and Hour of the Witch

Featured Article: Best of the Year—The 15 Best Fiction Listens of 2022


To say it’s a challenge to select the top fiction listens of the year (and this year especially!) is an understatement. But as hard as it is, it’s an even greater honor for our team to be able to listen deeply to so many amazing stories and then highlight the best of the best to you. Fiction is a big category—one that includes everything from epic family sagas to clever short stories, from historical fiction to near-future speculative works.

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I loved it.

I truly enjoyed this story, it tugged at every emotion. I loved the narrators voice, it really helped make the story more appealing.

4 people found this helpful

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Riveting

Excellently wrote. Even though the characters were made fictional, this really happened. In some places it is still happening. The audacity of the government to take advantage of people this way. I loved the reality of looking at life through 2 sets of eyes. I loved that the family kept going no matter what. They got their foothold and moved on to better. I will say it was a story of The have and the have nots. Sometimes in real life we like Civil try to make it better to only find out that it gets worst. Story was a great testimony of strength, courage, sacrifice, love and determination. Please buy it. I am going to listen to it again. It is 52 chapters of adventure into the world through the eyes of those with and those without, whether its money, education, or self esteem. Sometimes you stand alone but, like Civil you got to keep on pushing.

2 people found this helpful

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Page Turner Based off True Events

Forced Sterlization by any way is disgusting! The way the book moved me....and not in a good way. History and the evil people in it. Civil a black nurse raise by a doctor and mother who gave her a good life. Her graduating in the top 5 percent of her nursing class didn't qualify her enough. She was hired in Black hospital by a white nurse. She found out quickly how the government treated Black poor girls/women on her first case. She was hit head on. She was sent to a derelected house to give 2 girls(Erica 13 and India 11 Williams ) a depo provera shot. Upon arrival the house looked like it should have been burned down. The girls mother died of cancer years ago, and father works to take care of them along with the grandmother. The father couldn't read. After she gave them the shots, she asked the girls about sanitary napkins and found out the Erica been bleeding everyday since she got the shot and India didn't even have her period. This got Cibil hotttt and so did I. Civil made it her business to get them into better housing, and get them the things they needed to include stopping the shots. Thing is her supervisor Ms. Siegers main job was to sterilized Black girls/women. She thought it was her job to stop them from procreation. One day she picked the girls up and told their guardians that she was taking them to the hospital to get a "new shot". When Civil went to do her daily check on the girls she found out her supervisor Ms. Sieger picked them up and took them to the hospital. When she arrived, she found out that Ms. Sieger she got the girls tubes tied and burnt. This MF had an 11 and 13 year old girls sterilized so that they can't have kids and refused to give them pain meds. Fire let up in her....me too. Ms. Sieger was targeting families and has them trust her and told them the lengthy forms said something totally different than what they said in order to get their signatures.

Then she finds out that the government told their family something was wrong with the deed of their house, trying to take it from them. Take take take and the disregard for Black people, especially the poor Black children. This isn't just what happens in Montgomery, Alabama but Everywhere! This has always and continues to be an issue.
This book 📖 whew. I had to take a break and start over, TV but it only angered me more but I needed to see what happened to the girls. Senator Ted Kennedy represented the girls in the case.

Finds out it was a Federal government thing, doctors were forcing Black and Hispanics to sign the document for sterilization. Some before they would deliver their babies or before they could recieve any care. Coerced sterilization, is a government-mandated program to involuntarily sterilize a specific group of people. It removes a person's capacity to reproduce, usually through surgical procedures. Freaking population control, eugenics, ethnic genecide, whatever you name it, it's pure evil. This shows another reason why the government nor any man should have control or say so when it comes to a woman's body, PERIOD! Several countries implemented the inhumane sterilization programs. Although they have been made illegal in most countries of the world, they still persist.

And to top things off, this is a true story, the only thing changed is the names of the girls. Their real names are Minnie Lee and Mary Alice Reef and they were 12 and 14 years old. If you have girls I highly recommend that you DO NOT let them get that poison (Depo Provera,or IUD), it was made for the sole purpose of erasure of Black and Brown girls. Some kind of Birth Control, how ironic. Another thing, this happened a year after the Tuskegee Syphilis debacle and people wonder why Black people are Leary to free health care or so called helpful vaccines. I mean can you blame us. As if 2020 theyre still up to it. It's used in ICE detention centers.History and it's Shenanigans. #Book22of2022 #Bookworm #HighlyRecommeded #Whatsnext

2 people found this helpful

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When you open yourself up to learn…

While this is a work of fiction and is not an actual retelling of events, this tale is based on an actual court case involving real children. I am speechless and the information I learned forces me to acknowledge the failings and shortcomings of the country I live in and the privilege I enjoy.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent Historical Fiction

The immoral and shameful overreach of the U.S. government on the reproductive rights of mostly black and poor women and young girls through forced sterilization is the central focus of this novel told in dual time lines ,1973 and 2016. While these events are mainly told through the experiences of two young black girls aged 11 and 14 and the nurse who tries to save them, there were many other women in the country subjected to these immoral practices at that time. Even in more recent years, “reproductive injustice”took place in California prisons between 2006 and 2010.

This is not just a story that enlightened me, stunned me, educated me, but one that moved me, bringing me to tears thinking about these young girls and women. Taking real events as the inspiration and giving a portrait of the time and place and the emotional and psychological impact on people’s lives is for me a hallmark of good historical fiction. The author in her note indicates what of this novel is based on real events and real people and that made it all the more meaningful. Sad and scary and infuriating how relevant this overreach is even today.

1 person found this helpful

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Awesome!!

Being from Alabama, I knew about the Tuskegee Experiment, but I knew nothing about the State Sterilizing Young Minority Girls & Women. Just another shameful notch in this State's history. I thank Mrs Perkins-Valdez for this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Must read!

This is an absolute must read! The narration was perfect and the story really makes you think. So happy I read this book!

1 person found this helpful

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its an interesting story, but meg

The writing and performance are both meh. It's an interesting enough story, but getting through this book required some dedication.

1 person found this helpful

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Top 10

This book is on of my top 10 reads. It is not only educational but very emotional to learn about the hardships faced by young girls and women back then and still to this day.

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Moving and captivating

A moving story inspired by a real tragedy. The author captivates the audience and skillfully engages the reader with characters that you want to follow, whose stories you want to hear. Despite the horror these individuals are subjected to, they rally and stand strong as a family and community. Very inspirational book that provokes thought on conversation of inequities that still exist in the US today.