Take My Hand

Dolen Perkins-Valdez

380 pages April 2022 manuscript

Represented by Stephanie Cabot

“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, Take My Hand brims with hope, compassion, and the burning pursuit of justice.


Take My Hand is a gem: one of those rare and beautiful novels that walks the balance beam of heartbreak and hope. Dolen Perkins-Valdez demonstrates once again the way she can breathe life into history through fiction that adds deep and profound meaning to the past — and makes its relevance to the present meaningful and clear.”
— Chris Bohjalian #1 Bestselling Author of The Flight Attendant and Hour of the Witch

“Deeply empathetic yet unflinching in its gaze… An unforgettable exploration of responsibility and redemption.” —Celeste Ng, #1 bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

“Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a brilliant writer in a class all by herself. I love her voice and how she makes the past feel immediate and relevant, because it is.”
Terry McMillan

“Perkins-Valdez’s latest is a piercing look into a shameful moment in America’s history, and could not be more timely. Her electrifying, masterful novel brims with fierce compassion and deserves attention and accolades galore. I will be recommending it to everyone I know.”
—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue

“This powerful novel finds the humanity in one of the most inhumane chapters of American history. Take My Hand will enrage you. It will illuminate you. It just might redeem you. In the process, it will take your breath away. I don’t say this often, but it’s a must-read.
Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“Delicate and poetic, Dolen manages to fuse beauty and tragedy in her work, which makes her a masterful storyteller and gifted writer. In this story, Dolen speaks eloquently for those who, in being denied the right of having a choice and agency over their bodies, have lost their voice. This haunting tale, captured through the lens of an unforgettable narrator and a cast of memorable characters, will stay with you for a very, very long time.” 
—Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of bestselling novels Patsy and Here Comes the Sun