Cover Image: Take My Hand

Take My Hand

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Member Reviews

This book made me angry, in a good way. It is a must-read because it focuses on two impoverished young Black girls sterilized without their (or parent's) knowledge and consent. It is utterly, incredibly tragic! It is horrifying, but it is a history that truly happened, that needs to be known. 

I love the MC_ Civil_ and the young girls who are vividly drawn, you just know them, you root for them, you have hopes for them. Civil's arc_ her growth from a young and naive nurse to being the girls' primary advocate_  is powerful and believable. 

This is a triggering read, but the book is a must-read. 

Thank you so much Netgalley, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, and Berkley Publishing Group (Berkley) for the ebook for my honest review. 

I just reviewed Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. #TakeMyHand #NetGalley
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I don't normally read titles like this, I tend to stick to my prettily-wrapped YA contemporary fiction. But this was a necessary read for me, and a title I will be thinking about for years to come. It's a star, a profound story that is emotionally gripping and balances between heartbreak and hope the entire time.
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To be quite honest--this historical novel about impoverished young Black girls sterilized without their (or parent's) knowledge and consent is incredibly tragic; there's really no happy ending. However--Civil and the young girls in her care are such compelling and vividly created characters that readers willing to witness their journey will be richly rewarded. Civil's growth from a young and sheltered nurse to being the girls' primary advocate is movingly captured and believable. 

Many thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was very hard to read due to the heaviness of the subject matter. At times I found that I had to walk away to get myself in the right mental space to be able to continue reading. And this is not due to Perkins-Valdez’s writing, that part was enjoyable. 
I appreciated how the story was told from the past and present, and the build up so that we got to know more about all of the main characters.
Even though I am aware of how medical experimentation and negligence happened a lot more frequently than we realized, it didn’t make this any easier to digest. But it is/was a necessary story.
I’ve read 2 other books by the author, Wench and Balm,  and she is so talented and gifted in telling the stories of Black women and girls. I always recommend those books even though, like this, they are HEAVY but we cannot shy away from them because of our discomfort. 
This would be an excellent book club book for non black women.
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Loved her novel Wench. Great story about a nurse who’s patients are being forced birth control because of their poverty and race.
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Take My Hand is an original novel about reproductive justice beginning in the 1970s in Montgomery, Alabama. Civil, a nurse fresh from Tuskegee University, accepts a position at a local women's clinic. Civil is assigned to work with the Williams family who lives in squalor in a shed on a local farm. She becomes suspect when told to provide birth control to Erica and India, pre-adolescent girls who live with their father and grandmother, both of who are illiterate. The novels opens from there, leading to a federal court battle. The novel is based on historical facts from Tennessee and Alabama. It includes thorough university librarian character, Miss Pope, who offers aid and encouragement to Civil as she makes personal decisions and builds the case for redemption for Erica and India.
Great book for discussion groups.
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Now, Dolen was my MFA fiction and creative nonfiction professor, and she was also on my thesis committee. But that’s not why I’m going to praise and recommend this powerful novel. Dolen’s intimate writing brims with carefully crafted scenes and memorable characters. Inspired by the Relf v. Weinberger case in 1973, the story unravels the medical exploitation of Black bodies and the damage inflicted by and at the people involved. An unforgettable narrative about reconciling with the past and yourself. If there’s a book you want to preorder for 2022, Take My Hand is it.
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Very enjoyable historical fiction read - while I had a vague knowledge of the scandal involving forced sterilization  using Federal funds, this novel brought the heartbreak to the forefront while imagining how coercion and trickery combined with poverty to dupe people into agreement.  Partially focused on a re-imagined lawsuit in Alabama, the basics are well researched but the author makes it clear the protaganists are of her own creation.  Highly recommend.
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This hurts to read.,  It focuses on a time and place that history is trying to stamp back into forgetting.  This is not an upper--but it is hopeful.
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Poor. Young. Black. Screwed. That’s the theme of this unflinching novel that takes a look at women’s reproductive issues in the 1970s. Primitive to say the least.

Civil Townsend is fresh out of nursing school and wants to use her training to make a difference in the world. Her father, who is a doctor, wants her to follow in his footsteps. Civil has worked with him in his clinic and believes that nurses can make more change than doctors because they are the ones on the front lines.

She obtains a position at the Montgomery (Alabama) Family Planning Clinic. A woman of her times, Civil believes that she can help women take responsibility for their own bodies and can decide if they want to have children or not. The clinic is overseen by a white woman, Mrs. Linda Seager, who has her own ideas about the issue.

The structure of the novel is dueling timelines and toward the conclusion, a triple timeline. When the story opens, it’s 2016 in Memphis. Civil is ready to retire after a forty-year career in medicine. She is getting ready to undertake a trip back to Montgomery and is relating the story of what happened there to her daughter, Anne. 

The story shifts to 1973. Civil has been assigned her first case with the clinic. She is to make a home visit to the Williams’ family and give India and Erica their quarterly Depo-Provera, a contraceptive injunction, which was used instead of the Pill. Many thought that it was more effective at preventing pregnancy because it lasted for three months instead of having to rely on a daily dose.

When Civil arrives at the William’s shack, she is appalled by their living conditions. It’s a one-room cabin with inadequate ventilation, a dirt floor, a hole in the floor for cooking, clothes lying in piles, and dogs running in and out.  It smells worse than it looks. It is inhabited my two young girls, their father and their grandmother.

What shocks Civil even more is that the India is only eleven years old and Erica is only thirteen.  They smell worse than the cabin. They haven’t even kissed a boy, much less had sex. It’s not even on their radar. I don’t remember how long the girls have been on the drug, but India hasn’t even begun her menstrual cycle. 

Civil’s sense of justice takes over. She cannot, and will not, allow those young, motherless girls to grow up like this.  She begins a crusade to take them off the shot and puts them on the Pill, get them into a subsidized apartment, on food stamps, and get dad a job. 

As Civil fights for the girls, she enlists the community to help. Eventually the girls’ case lands in federal court. This novel is based on the real case of Relf vs Weinberger.

I could not book put this down. Some of the courtroom scenes were hard to read because they were based on law and were confusing.  That didn’t matter really, and I give “Take My Hand,” 6out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.
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As abortion rights continue to take center stage, this novel of forced sterilization of young (including preteen) Black girls in the 1970s is horrifying, heartbreaking, and eye opening. 

In 1973 Civil Townsend is a brand new Black nurse starting a new job in a federally funded family planning clinic in Alabama. She has led a sheltered life - her father a doctor, her mother an artist. In 2016, she is relating her experiences with one particular family and trying to come to terms with the past. 

This book is so deeply moving. I was heartbroken, enraged, and am determined that this story be told. This book will stay with you as you are forced to acknowledge the past. This book deserves to be a runaway bestseller. It should join the likes of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as a testament to the abuse of Black bodies and spirits. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this arc in exchange for an honest review.
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This novel was quite interesting. 

For any of those wondering, yes it starts off slow. However, the payoff is magnificent. You feel as though you are hearing someone tell you a story of the past. In the same way you would listen to your grandmother meander about a subject and go off on a seemingly unrelated tangent, the narrator does the same here. 

There were quite a few places in the novel where my heart broke for the characters, not the narrator but for those that she encountered and their stories. It was as though she was seeing people for the first time. It made me recall those times in which I was brought face to face with people whose experiences I had never considered before they were right in front of me. I don't want to ramble but this book definitely makes you turn introspective.

Also, there was a lot to unpack in terms of women's rights and the injustices of Black women that are evident throughout the narrative. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but it reminded me of all the experimentations and sterilizations Black people were forced through for their "health."

This is a wonderful narrative and I can't wait to read another work by the author.
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I was lucky enough to procure an advance digital copy of TAKE MY HAND by Dolen Perkins-Valdez through a Shelf Awareness giveaway/from the publisher. Thanks for the early look, and have a safe and happy holiday season!
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The amount of emotions this story produced leaves me raw. I hate that this story has to exist. That its based in realty, but the story needs to be told and the author did just that, and beautifully so. 

Civil Townsend has a good head on her shoulders. She is an amazing character that is so full of life and the will to make things right. I applaud her push, even when it meant her job in uncertain times and criticism from her community and the country as this story went beyond her small town. 

The author's writing style is smooth and wonderful, bringing color to the world she built. I really enjoyed reading this story, even when it was a hard subject. A wonderfully written portrayal of history that was swept under the rug.    

My Review will be live on my blog, Book Confessions on 12-24-2021.
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Civil is a young nurse in Montgomery, Alabama in 1973. She is working at a federally-funded clinic providing birth control for poor women. She is especially moved by two of her patients, Erica and India, who live in a ramshackle cabin on a white man's farm. Civil believes in the mission of the clinic, but begins to question its methods when she realizes that India, who is only 11, is receiving birth control despite not having menstruated. As she learns more about Depo-Provera, she becomes even more uncomfortable. Civil becomes involved with the family, despite knowing that she is crossing lines. This book deals with uncomfortable topics and injustices, particularly forced sterilization. In addition, Civil carries a secret with her that has affected her relationships.
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Fascinating fictionalized account of a true story of harm done by officials in the vein of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.  It is a story that is so well-developed that you will find yourself researching the historical record for the true story.  Very well-done.
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Not your “typical” Southern novel, Take My Hand immersed the reader in the social and political struggles of Montgomery, Alabama in the early 1970’s. The author based the story on an actual event from that time, the forced sterilization of two poor young Black girls. Perkins-Valdez thoroughly researched the issue and subsequent lawsuit against the federal government. However, the main character she created, a freshly-graduated Black nurse employed at a government-sponsored clinic, impresses the reader as an actual person,- genuine, believable, and unforgettable.
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4 stars Thank you to BookBrowse for the digital copy of this ARC. and NetGalley for the download.  Publication is April 2022.

This story is fictional. But this story is inspired by a real life event. The year was 1973. The problem was not only racial but ethically despicable. This case ended up in federal court in Washington DC and luckily was rendered, by whom all considered to be a bias judge, unlawful. Immoral as it was, it still continues today.

Two young black girls aged eleven and thirteen were surgically sterilized by a federally funded program in Montgomery Alabama. Their father and grandmother did sign consent, but they were not fully informed of what was about to take place. A young nurse - working for that same agency - took it into her own hands to right this evil wrong. This case was the turning point in the rights of reproductive consent. This book is a fictional representation of that case.

However since that time and as current as 2013 it has been revealed that 150 women in California state prisons were sterilized between 2006 and 2010. There have been many instances of Nashville Tennessee prosecutors adding sterilization as part of plea deals. In 2020 there have been claims of women detained by ICE agencies - Immigration and Customs Enforcement - who have been forcible sterilized without their consent in US detainment centers. Actually still in effect is the US Supreme Court ruling - Buck vs Bell - it states that compulsory sterilization of 'unfit' inmates of public institutions is federally protected. That was the decision in 1927. It remains in effect today.

Who are we to deem who is unfit for motherhood? Yet still to this day those in poverty, those Black and those disabled are inappropriately subjected to what 'others' deem acceptable.

I repeat, this book is fiction, but based off this truthful and real dilemma. It tells the story of this inequality very well. Definitely worth the read.
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"Take My Hand" shines a light on actions that state governments took against vulnerable women whose genetic makeup or socioeconomic status were viewed as undesirable. This novel   is a well-written and thoroughly researched work of historical fiction. The characters are engaging, the plot moves at a good pace and the climax and resolution feel very real. It would be a great selection for book clubs especially those concerned with reading for edification and understanding how historical events have repercussions in present day America.
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This historical fiction novel is one of the best that I have read in a while!  Can't wait til it comes out so I can recommend it to my readers who love historical fiction.

Perkins-Valdez does an amazing job of bring this book to life. The fully developed characters and a story based on true facts created a book that I couldn't put down!  Strong recommend for this book.
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