Dolen Perkins-Valdez on her new novel, Take My Hand

By Spenser Stevens | April 27 2022 | GeneralEnglish Language Arts

“I believe that in order to heal, we must remember. Once we remember, we acknowledge. Once we acknowledge, we can take more significant action.”


Watch Dolen Perkins-Valdez discuss her inspiration for writing Take My Hand:


Montgomery, Alabama, 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend intends to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she hopes to help women shape their destinies, to make their own choices for their lives and bodies.

But when her first week on the job takes her along a dusty country road to a worn-down one-room cabin, Civil is shocked to learn that her new patients, Erica and India, are children—just eleven and thirteen 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 their 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.

Inspired by true events and brimming with hope, Take My Hand is a stirring exploration of accountability and redemption.

Resources to Support Reproductive Justice

Nonprofit Organizations

New Voices for Reproductive Justice

Physicians for Reproductive Health

SisterLove, Inc

Social Workers for Reproductive Justice

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc

Surge Reproductive Justice

Southern Poverty Law Center

Planned Parenthood

Center for Reproductive Rights


Black Women’s Health Imperative

URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity

Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center

National Women’s Health Network

California Latinas for Reproductive

Black Mamas Matter Alliance

Forward Together

New York Women’s Forum

National Health Law Program

National Institute for Reproductive Health


Advocates for Youth

Harambee Village Doulas

National Abortion Federation

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Organization for Women


Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the New York Times bestselling author of Wench and Balm. She was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for fiction, and she was awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She lives in Washington, DC, with her family.


Photo: © Norman E. Jones
Take My Hand
A searing and compassionate new novel about a young Black nurse’s shocking discovery and burning quest for justice in post-segregation Alabama, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wench.
$27.00 US
Apr 12, 2022
368 Pages