If This is Peace

Dolen Perkins-Valdez

380 pages manuscript Original publisher: Berkley

“In 1973, a horrible wrong was committed against two young sisters from Montgomery, Alabama. When I learned of this case, I could not help but wonder how something like this was allowed to happen. The result of my inability to shake this thought is this novel, which raises questions of culpability and ethics in a society that deems poor, black, and disabled as categories unfit for motherhood, questions that remain salient today.” – Dolen Perkins-Valdez

A nurse at the Family Planning Clinic in Montgomery Alabama, Civil Townsend is passionate about putting choice into women’s hands. She brings the option of birth control to their doorsteps, and with it the right to determine their own destinies.

Or so she thinks. When she is assigned to administer birth control to two school age Black girls, the Williams sisters, who live off an old unpaved road in a shack without running water, she suspects that something is amiss. She grows close to the family and becomes fiercely invested in their well-being. One day, she learns with horror that the girls have been involuntarily sterilized. Civil is shocked that such a heinous mistake could have taken place, and vows to get to the bottom of it. She soon discovers that this is no isolated event – but a pattern, far more serious than she ever imagined, targeting poor Black women. Could her clinic be responsible for the same type of malpractice and inhumanity that had been uncovered just one year prior, in 1972, when the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment made headlines? Had she, and the other Black nurses working with her, been complicit? No matter how ugly, Civil is determined for the truth to be brought to light.

Based on true events, If This is Peace brims with hope, compassion, and the burning pursuit of justice.