Welp, I am officially out of my book slump and Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is to thank. This historical fiction book inspired by true events blew me away. I have seen the beautiful cover of Take My Hand splattered across #bookstagram, but not enough in my opinion, because this book is everything. When a book is set 50 years ago, yet some of the things happen then are STILL happening now...that's a book you need to pick up and read.....
Civil Townsend is fresh out of nursing school and takes a job at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic in Montgomery, Alabama. She is determined to make a difference and takes her nursing duties seriously. She is assigned two new patients, sisters Erica and India Williams, who live in dire poverty. As Civil gives them their designated rounds of birth control, she questions why girls as young as them are being prescribed birth control in the first place. Civil begins to question the intentions of the clinic and the role she plays, when something devastating happens to the Williams sisters. Civil grapples with what happened, as well as her role in causing it and how she can be part of the solution. Decades later, she is telling this story to her own daughter in hopes that history will not repeat itself.
I love when a book is inspired by true events. Take My Hand is one of those impactful books that is incredibly timely (especially lately given the states banning abortion) and will stick with you. Take My Hand is a searing novel about injustices related to reproductive rights, especially when it comes to low-income Black women. What is truly sad is that what happened in this story, has actually happened, many times over, and STILL happens to this day. I highly recommend taking the time to read the Author's Note, as she discusses the true events that inspired this story, as well as our role in these injustices.
I was truly blown away by this book. Civil is such a strong, compassionate, yet naive and well-intended character that learns her lessons the hard way. As much as Civil wants to be part of the solution, she finds herself unintentionally part of the problem. She rights her wrong by helping the Williams family but finds herself overstepping at times and loses part of herself to fixing her mistakes. It is a great lesson to us all that as well-meaning as we can be, even with the best intentions, we can find ourselves being part of the problem. Not only is this a story of reproductive and racial injustice, but it is also a story of accountability, redemption and compassion.
I loved this book and highly recommend it to all my followers. I love when a fiction book portrays makes you reflect, takes you out of your comfort zone and relays a message that makes you want to act and do better. Take My Hand is that perfect balance of historical fiction and social justice.
4.5 stars (so close to 5 stars, only complaint is it could have been shorter)
"I had a hand in breaking all of this. I had to have a hand in fixing it."
“In a world inundated by information about these tragedies and more, I still passionately believe in the power the novel (and its readers!) to raise the alarm, influence hearts, and impact lives.” (From Author's Note)