Nancy Johnson

Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie

William Morrow

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. While her family is happy to see her, they remind her of the painful sacrifices to give Ruth a shot at a better future—like the comfortable middle-class life she now enjoys. Determined, Ruth digs into the past. As she uncovers secrets her family 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 searing racial tensions, Ruth and Midnight find themselves on a collision course that could upend both their lives.

“A deep dive into how we define family and what it means to grow up Black… beautifully crafted.”
—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author