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...Read More
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.
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.
"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." - Booklist
"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
"Nancy Johnson's The Kindest Lie is a layered, complex exploration of race and class.... Johnson is particularly adept at drawing the dividing lines between African Americans and working-class Whites, while at the same time illuminating the things they share... It is a tale of how lies and omissions can shape and warp us. It is a story about reconciliation, set against a backdrop of racism and resentments. But more than anything, it is a meditation on family and forgiveness." - Washington Post
"[A] triumph, a deeply affecting work of truth and reconciliation over what it means to live the American Dream--and not just for the winners." - Los Angeles Times
"It takes tremendous talent to seamlessly combine social commentary with a powder keg of a plot, and Nancy Johnson accomplishes just that in her gripping debut novel, The Kindest Lie, addressing issues of race, class, privilege and upward mobility.... A fictional callback to Isabel Wilkerson's Caste, The Kindest Lie also brings to mind Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half, in which another young Black woman returns to her hometown to try to reconcile her past, present and future. Don't miss this powerful debut." - BookPage