The Kindest Lie
By: Nancy Johnson
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 02/02/21
My Rating: TBR
Named Most Anticipated of 2021 by Elle * Marie Claire * Good Housekeeping * Chicago Tribune * Woman's Day, * Refinery 29 * Bustle * The Millions * New York Post * Parade * Hello! Magazine * PopSugar * Black Business Guide * and more!
“The Kindest Lie is a deep dive into how we define family, what it means to be a mother, what secrets we owe to those we love, and what it means to grow up Black. This beautifully crafted debut will keep you asking these questions and more.” —JODI PICOULT
A masterful, eye-opening novel about the profound racial injustices and class inequalities roiling American society, for fans of Tayari Jones and Jacqueline Woodson
A promise could betray you.
It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.
Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.
Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.
"One of the most buzzed about books of the season." —New York Post
"Race, class, family, and secrets are all on a collision course in Johnson’s extraordinarily moving, timely read. Like a heat-seeking missile, her novel hones in on who we think we belong to and why, following the merging lives of Ruth, a black female engineer who seeks out the child she gave away, and Midnight, a young white boy struggling to find his place in the very poverty Ruth managed to escape. A gloriously written, stunning heart scorcher about who we are and what we could be."
-- Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Cruel Beautiful World
"A profound look at racial and economic injustices in America."
-- Refinery 29
"In The Kindest Lie Nancy Johnson takes us both into a bygone time, the dawning of the Obama era, and into the tender heart of her protagonist Ruth. This is a novel that seeks to discover the beauty of our journeys despite the lies we tell each other and ourselves."
-- Rion Amilcar Scott, award-winning author of The World Doesn't Require You and Insurrections
“The Kindest Lie is the story of one family that reveals the larger story of America itself. Taut and surprising, Nancy Johnson’s debut novel tackles complex issues—ambition, romance, class—with the lightest of touches.”
-- Rumaan Alam, New York Times bestselling author of Leave the World Behind
“Generational secrets, class divides, motherhood, and American life on the edge of political and economic change are all examined in Johnson's engaging debut…. Through well-developed characters, Johnson provides a realistic portrayal of middle America in the tumultuous era of economic collapse.”
“Johnson’s sharp debut takes a deep dive into the life of a Black Chicago woman after the 2008 presidential election… Powerful insights emerge on the plurality of Black American experience and the divisions between rural and urban life, and the wealthy and the working class. Johnson’s clear-eyed saga hits hard.”
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Johnson has built a cast of beautifully complex characters.... This story speaks to race, class, and what it means to be a family."
“Essential, powerful, wrenching: Nancy Johnson’s debut novel tells a history of family secrets and lies shaped by the racism that permeates modern America.... A riveting story, a searing lesson on why Black Lives Matter is today’s crucial social justice movement.”
-- Sara Paretsky, New York Times bestselling author
"Johnson’s debut novel will appeal to a wide range of readers, who will be drawn into the despairing lives of her characters. Ruth’s predicament comes to a most satisfying conclusion."
-- Library Journal
About the Author
Photo credit: Nina Subin
A native of Chicago’s South Side, Nancy Johnson worked for more than a decade as an Emmy-nominated, award-winning television journalist at CBS and ABC affiliates nationwide.
A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she lives in downtown Chicago and manages brand communications for a large nonprofit.
The Kindest Lie is her first book. Website