Take My Hand
A timely and gripping work of historical fiction loosely inspired by the real-life groundbreaking court case of Relf v Weinberger. In 2016 Memphis, distinguished Black doctor Civil Townsend prepares to retire. First she must journey to her hometown of Montgomery to make peace with the past and tell the truth of it to her own daughter. In alternating timelines, Civil reveals all that unfolded in 1973, when she was a young and idealistic nurse, stepping into her first job at a reproductive clinic serving Black women in her community. She cared deeply for the girls under her care, but grew alarmed at what she was called upon to do: administer experimental and perhaps unnecessary treatments to young patients without their understanding or consent. When the unthinkable happens to one patient and she is sterilized without consent, Civil becomes involved in a landmark lawsuit. A moving story and a testament to fiction’s power to influence hearts and impact lives. For fans of Kaia Alderson’s Sisters in Arms and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.
“Deeply empathetic yet unflinching in its gaze…an unforgettable exploration of responsibility and redemption.”—Celeste Ng
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A searing and compassionate new novel about a young Black nurse’s shocking discovery and burning quest for justice in post-segregation Alabama, 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.