The Kindest Lie

Nancy Johnson. Morrow, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-300563-1
Johnson’s sharp debut takes a deep dive into the life of a Black Chicago woman after the 2008 presidential election. Ruth Tuttle, 29, feels like she’s made it: she’s married to a Pepsi exec and thriving in her own career as a chemical engineer. However, her marriage hits a rocky spot when, during a talk with her husband, Xavier, about having children, she reveals she had a son at age 17. Her grandmother, Mama, who raised her, encouraged Ruth to give up her son to fulfill her dreams, and now, after Ruth asks for help in finding him, Mama tells Ruth not to go digging up the past. Still, Ruth returns to Ganton, determined to find her son before she starts a family with Xavier. With the auto plant that employed her brother, Eli, and her grandfather now closed, the town is reeling. Here, Johnson’s lens widens to address the increasing racial divide following Obama’s election, and she dramatizes it through a friendship forged between Ruth and an 11-year-old white boy named Midnight, whose abusive father also lost his job. Midnight is friends with a Black boy named Corey Cunningham, who Ruth deduces is her son after Eli defends him from a racially motivated attack by a group of white boys. As Ruth learns more about what’s happened to her town and reckons with what she left behind, 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. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/30/2020
Release date: 02/02/2021
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-300565-5
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-06-307315-9
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