Take My Hand

Berkley. Apr. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9780593337691. $27. F
Inspired by true events, best-selling Perkins-Valdez (Balm) tells the fictional story of Dr. Civil Townsend, a Black woman reflecting on the impact of her first job as a nurse in Montgomery, Ala., in 1973. Civil hopes to make a difference in her community by providing government-subsidized birth control to women living in poverty, but she is concerned when she is told to give Depo-Provera birth control shots to girls who are only 11 and 13. When she realizes that coercion is occurring at the clinic and that the shots could be harmful, Civil knows she must do something. Entwining her life with those young girls, India and Erica, Civil works to improve their destitute situation, but then Civil’s boss has the girls sterilized without consent. Horrified, Civil initiates a lawsuit on behalf of the girls, setting in motion the exposure of a nationwide abuse of patients.
VERDICT With prose that steeps readers in this heart-wrenching story, Perkins-Valdez confronts with the atrocities that have been inflicted on those living in poverty while giving nuance and dignity to her characters along with glimmers of hope. This is an exceptional read.
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