The Kindest Lie: Book summary and reviews of The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie

by Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson X
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
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Book Summary

A masterful, eye-opening novel about the profound racial injustices and class inequalities roiling society in America.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] sharp debut...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)

"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

"A heart-wrenching portrayal of an unlikely bond, and a profound nod to the fallacy of post-racial America—The Kindest Lie is nuanced, spellbinding, and necessary." - Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of The Revisioners

"In The Kindest Lie, Nancy Johnson gives us two unforgettable characters. Ruth and Midnight represent different Americas: one trending up, one spiraling down. Johnson—through graceful sentences, tenderness, dramatic expertise, and overflowing empathy—is able to twist these Americas into a singular portrait of a country in transition. This enviable debut enlightens while breaking your heart. A truly beautiful achievement." - Gabriel Bump, author of Everywhere You Don't Belong

"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

"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

This information about The Kindest Lie shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Milagros Vargas Neu

Kindest Lie
What an extraordinary writer! The plot is truly believable it hits to the bottom of your soul. I hope that the author writes another book! I will surly buy it immediately. I plan to forever keep this book on my bookshelf as a true keeper. Thank You for a great read!

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More Information

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

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