Nancy Johnson (BSJ93 – CAS93)
It’s 2008, and the rise of 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 give up—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. While her family is happy to see her, they remind her of the painful sacrifices they made to give her a shot at a better future—like the comfortable middle-class life she now enjoys.
Determined, Ruth begins digging into the past. As she uncovers burning secrets her family desperately wants to hide, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. When a traumatic incident strains the town’s already scorching racial tensions, Ruth and Midnight find themselves on a collision course that could upend both their lives.
The Kindest Lie examines the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and plumbs the emotional depths of the struggles faced by ordinary Americans in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Capturing the profound racial injustices and class inequalities roiling society, Nancy Johnson’s debut novel offers an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.