Book Review: Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

April 12, 2022


Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the story of a young African-American nurse who finds herself administering trial sterilization shots to young, poor, African-American girls. Ms. Perkins-Valdezis a bestselling author, and an Associate professor of Literature at American University.

  • 368 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : Berkley
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : 0593337697

Book Review: Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-ValdezMy rating for Take My Hand5
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I recognized the author’s name from a few years ago when I read her first novel Wench, a wonderful but hard-hitting book about slavery. Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, is another historical fiction story that tackles another shameful chapter in US history – the forced sterilization of young African-American women.

The author is upfront about the story, the program actually happened, but all the characters are fictional. Worst, the intentions behind the program, a tremendous overreach to say the least, were not even well-meaning, it was a trial. Afterward, many of the young ladies developed cancer as a result.

The protagonist, Civil Townsend, is unflinching and brave. She has the advantage over the other nurses of being the daughter of a successful, wealthy lawyer, and hence does not actually need the nursing job and is able to take a moral stand.

We read Civil’s story from two timelines, 1973 and 2016, where she attempts to find the Williams’ sisters and others. This aspect was well done, it was clear, not confusing, and made sense within the narrative.

Ms. Perkins-Valdez has the ability to give a sense of time and place while telling a good story. I also enjoy reading historical fiction because, on some level, I learn a new thing or two. This novel certainly checked that box as well.

Unfortunately, the novel is still relevant to today’s world. While we like to believe these types of experiments are no longer done, California has proven us wrong in 2006 and 2010.


Civil Townsend graduated from nursing school in 1973, and find herself working at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic. An intelligent, well-meaning, but naïve woman, Civil thinks he’s going to help women make their own choices.

India and Erica Williams, two very poor 11 and 13-year-old sisters, are Civil’s first clients. As she takes the whole Williams family under her wing, Civil realizes she and the sisters are unwilling participants in a government-funded sterilization trial.

Buy Take My Hand from*
More books by Dolen Perkins-Valdes*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got this book for free
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

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