Take My Hand Book Summary

Take My Hand Summary. it is American author Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s third novel (2022). Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by many publications, it was awarded the 2023 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work-Fiction and the 2023 BCALA Award for Fiction. 

It was a finalist for a Goodreads Choice Award and was named a Top 20 Book of the Year by the Editors at Amazon, and the audiobook version was named a Best of 2022 by Audible. The American Bar Association named Take My Hand a finalist for its prestigious Silver Gavel Award, which recognizes an “outstanding work that fosters the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system.”

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Take My Hand Summary

Take My Hand Summary

The Story Inspired by true events that rocked the nation, a profoundly moving novel about a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who blows the whistle on a terrible wrong done to her patients, Montgomery, Alabama 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.

But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a worn down one-room cabin, she’s shocked to learn that her new patients are children—just 11 and 13 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 the 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. 

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Take My Hand Book Themes

Systemic Racism and the Healthcare System: The story takes place in the post-Jim Crow South, highlighting the lingering effects of segregation and discrimination within the healthcare system. Civil Townsend, a Black nurse, faces prejudice and institutional barriers as she advocates for her patients' reproductive rights. The exploration of forced sterilization programs targeting Black women sheds light on a dark chapter in American history and raises questions about bodily autonomy and medical ethics.

Othering and the Savior Complex: Civil's desire to "save" her patients and her community can be seen as driven by both genuine empathy and a paternalistic attitude. The novel explores the dangers of "othering" marginalized groups and the importance of respecting individual agency and self-determination.

Responsibility and Redemption: Civil's decision to whistleblow on the illegal sterilization program forces her to confront difficult choices and the potential consequences of her actions. The novel delves into themes of personal responsibility, courage, and the possibility of redemption in the face of systemic injustice.

Strength of Community and Family: Despite the challenges they face, Civil finds support and solidarity within her community of Black women, both at the clinic and in her extended family. The novel celebrates the strength of intergenerational bonds and the importance of community networks in times of crisis.

Mental Health and Trauma: The characters navigate various forms of trauma, including the legacy of slavery and institutional racism, sexual assault, and societal disapproval. The story underscores the importance of acknowledging and addressing mental health concerns, especially within marginalized communities.

Moral Complexity and Ambiguity: "Take My Hand" does not offer simple answers to complex issues. The characters face difficult choices with no easy solutions, and the narrative invites readers to grapple with moral ambiguity.

Questions and Answers about Take My Hand Book

What is the short summary of Take My Hand by Perkins Valdez? Summary: Inspired by true events that rocked the nation, a profoundly moving novel about a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who blows the whistle on a terrible wrong done to her patients, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wench. Montgomery, Alabama 1973.

Who are the characters in Take My Hand Dolen Perkins Valdez? Take My Hand is the story of two young Black girls, Erica and India, who live a hardscrabble life in Alabama in 1973. We see them through the lens of a compassionate, recently graduated nurse named Civil Townsend, whose first job entails working at a family planning clinic.

Who is Take My Hand book based on? The story is inspired by real-life 12 and 14 years old sisters Mary Alice and Minnie Lee Relf. A federally funded family planning clinic involuntarily sterilized them in Montgomery, Alabama 1973. While this case has been well publicized, it is not well known or been written about.

Where does Take My Hand take place? Take My Hand is a poignant novel that transports the reader to Montgomery, Alabama in the early 1970s and culminates in a dramatic court case against coerced sterilizations.

Who is the main character in Take My Hand? In Take My Hand, the protagonist Civil Townsend works at a family planning center in Montgomery, Alabama in 1973. She visits a Black family and administers birth control shots to two sisters, ages 11 and 13, at the behest of her supervisor, a man who later orders the girls to be sterilized.

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