Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Kindest Lie” as Want to Read:
The Kindest Lie
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Kindest Lie

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,584 ratings  ·  718 reviews
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 tee
ebook, 336 pages
Published February 2nd 2021 by William Morrow
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Kindest Lie, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lisa There are no sex scenes, just the couple wants to have a baby but it doesn't have sex scenes thank goodness!…moreThere are no sex scenes, just the couple wants to have a baby but it doesn't have sex scenes thank goodness!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,584 ratings  ·  718 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Kindest Lie
Katie B
I was impressed this debut novel managed to cover so many topics including race, social class, and motherhood to name a few. What is unique about this story is each reader might walk away with a different aspect that made the most impact. This is a book I found myself thinking about days after I finished reading it. I love when a story makes a deep impression on you.

In 2008, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy League educated Black engineer is living in Chicago with her husband. He wants to start a family but R
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
In The Kindest Lie it’s 2008 and Obama has just been elected President, sending a wave of hope across the country. Ruth Tuttle is a happily married Black engineer living in Chicago. Her husband Xavier is eager to start a family but Ruth can’t shake deep feelings about the son she left behind when she was just 17.

Only Ruth’s grandmother, Mama, and brother, Eli, knew about her son, who was given up for adoption. Ruth heads to her hometown in Indiana to address her unresolved feelings and find ans
Diane S ☔
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ruth and Xavier, married and living in Chicago, an upward mobile black couple, thrilled that Obama has won the Presidency. It's 2008 and they have every reason to feel hopeful. Their future looks bright until Xavier starts pushing to have a family. There is something Ruth has never told him, something in her past that threatens the stability of her psyche and their marriage.

A debut novel that confronts racial barriers, injustice, class and wealth disparity. When Ruth returns home to Indiana, hop
This is a Women's Fiction/Literary Fiction. We follow Ruth and a teenager that goes by Midnight. There is some flash backs during Ruth's parts, but I would not call this book Historical Fiction. The middle of this book was slow moving, but I have to say once everything was revealed I understood why the middle was moving a little slow. This book is a build up to what happens at the end. I think this book will make you look at how our current Cultural treats black people. I am glad I picked up thi ...more
Ron Block
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This debut novel begins on the eve of the 2008 election at a watch party hosted by Ruth and Xavier, beaming with possibility and change for the future. We soon learn that Ruth has been keeping a secret from her husband. As a teenager she had a child and walked away to begin a new life at Yale. Ruth soon must return to her roots and hometown to find out what happened and reconnect with her family and friends. There she makes an unlikely friendship with an 11 year old white boy named Midnight, wit ...more
Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
This is such an impressive debut. It doesn't feel at all like it is the author's first book.
I loved the themes the author explores here, and she does it in an amazing way. She twines together race and class and really makes the reader think about how those things are interrelated. The reader is left to ponder the true meaning of family and community and how secrets held can affect both.

Ruth is a complex character, she has accomplished a great deal in her life, yet her past still haunts her. I d
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant novel about race, class and motherhood. Must-read.

I read this novel in record time because I got so absorbed in these characters and story that I couldn't put it down.

The very timely exploration of class, motherhood and black-white divide in America make "The Kindest Lie" the kind of book I feel the need to read more of as a white woman. The way these themes are carried out definitely reminded me of "The Vanishing Half" and "The Mothers" by Brit Bennett and "Small Great Things" by Jod
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, netgalley-2021
4.5 great debut stars (.5 stars for bringing me to tears at the end)

This powerful novel seems so very timely. Set just when Barack Obama is elected to his first presidential term, we meet Ruth and Xavier, a black married couple living in Chicago. They both have great jobs and Xavier is ready to start a family. Ruth has lots of qualms and has never been honest with her husband about the baby she had as a teen and gave up for adoption.

Ruth finally acknowledges the truth to Xavier and knows that s
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful novel that speaks to race and motherhood. Obviously, this is very timely and because it is so thoughtful and well written, it will certainly be an excellent choice for reading groups.

The protagonist,, Ruth is so many things, wife, mother?, daughter, sister and academic star. The novel explores how these segments pull her apart and how the pieces can be resolved. I enjoyed this and found myself thinking about all of the relationships and who has the right to determine another
Jenny Lawson
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Gorgeously nuanced.
Susan Peterson
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set against the backdrop of the Obama election of 2008 and the lingering effects of the recession, The Kindest Lie is an emotionally compelling story about family, motherhood, and race. Ruth is happily married, an engineer, and a Yale graduate. But she is haunted by the life she left behind, and the big lie that threatens her marriage. When she returns to her hometown, we are given an honest and intimate account of a place and its people, suffering from an economic downturn which exacerbates the ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was brilliant and Ruth the heroine in this book was such a strong women and some places in the book my heart broke for her .
This book depicts the reality of black parents in America and racism that they face and I loved the how the author handled all the aspects and I couldn’t put it down .
Thanks to Edelweiss for sending me an early copy of this book🥰🥰
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a raw and emotionally beautiful book that deeply moved me in a way no other book has. Thankfully I've never been in this situation or even wanted kids myself but somehow I loved the book anyway. It's really good and makes you think ...more
Well-written literary fiction that examines racism and class issues

In 2008, the election of Barack Obama brings a new sense of optimism, especially to the Black community. In the south side of Chicago, Ruth Tuttle and her husband, Xavier, have a nice home and good jobs. Xavier is ready to start a family. But Ruth remains unsure. She cannot get past the baby she gave birth to at seventeen and then gave away. It's a secret she's kept all these years, even from Xavier. When Ruth finally admits what
Christina Clancy
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received this anticipated debut novel in a Goodreads giveaway and tore through it in a matter of days. I want to call it a page-turner, and it truly was--I was completely absorbed in the very human story and invested in the characters and the outcome. Yet the deeper you get into the novel, and the more pages you turn, the more you are faced with the pain, fear and uncertainty the characters wrestle with as they struggle with poverty and inequality while confronting stereotypes and systemic rac ...more
Feb 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
“A lie could be kind to you if you wanted it to be, if you let it.”


The setting begins with the celebration of President Obama's win, and we learn Ruth is a successful African American chemical engineer living in a Chicago suburb with her husband. Already a couple of years into their marriage, Xavier begins to suggest the idea of kids. Unbeknownst to him, Ruth got pregnant in high school and her grandmother, who raised her, took the baby and said she would take care of it so Ruth would n
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruth is a successful Black engineer living with her husband in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. President Obama has just been elected and hope is in the air, but when her husband wants to start a family of their own, Ruth is forced to reckon with her past. She left her hometown in a factory town in Indiana to go to Yale- but not before she gave birth in secret at 17 years old. Before she can move forward she feels drawn home so she can make peace with her past, but this proves to be easier sa ...more
Glenn Stenquist
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a real story with ups and downs and plenty to think about for everyone.
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
For most of this book, I intended to give it a 3/5 rating - a bit meh, but with a good start. By the end, I was reading it just to be finished with it, and in m opinion it just wasn't salvageable. "The Kindest Lie" had a good plot concept, and great themes to work with, but it consistently underdelivered.

Ruth was unsympathetic to a fault. She was selfish, judgmental, and inexplicably naive, given the fact that she was supposed to be this highly educated, tough woman who had overcome quite a bit
Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-publisher, 2021
Ruth Tuttle and her husband, Xavier, are living their American dream in Chicago. They’re both highly-educated, have lucrative jobs and celebrating Barack Obama’s historic 2008 victory when a secret Ruth has been keeping for years comes crashing through the perfect life they’ve built together. In all their talk of having kids, Ruth has only now disclosed that she’d previously given birth at 17, before the child was put up for adoption. Now armed with questions of her own, Ruth heads back to her h ...more
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Through a fast-paced, compelling story with authentic dialogue, Nancy Johnson's The Kindest Lie offers readers nuanced views of the intersecting, complexities of race, class and identity not often found in contemporary novels.

African American Ruth Tuttle from an Indiana, now-shuttered factory town defies expectations with her acceptance to Yale, but not before the Grandmother who raised Ruth urges her to conceal the birth of her son. Years later, Ruth also conceals the birth from the man she ma
Alisha Rohde
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an advance reader's copy in a Goodreads giveaway; that said, I was already very interested in reading this novel.

I particularly enjoyed the range and depth of the characters in this story: not just Ruth and Midnight, but their families and the whole community of Ganton, Indiana. Johnson deftly explores the diversity of experiences in this working-class town, where the economic downturn is felt on so many levels. The story digs into both racial and class tensions, deep legacies and the
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review prior to publication. I am not receiving any compensation for a positive review.

The Kindest Lie wrapped me into the family and each character from the first page. The book centers on a young woman searching for the child she was forced to give up for adoption years ago. More than that though, it is a story about knowing ourselves and our families and where we fit into that family.

The realities of racism in America and the fear that Black
Erin Cataldi
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Raw and vibrant; this debut novel from Nancy Johnson is a must read. Ruth and Xavier are living their dream life in Chicago - things are going so good that Xavier is talking about kids. He's ready and they're ready financially - the only hold up is Ruth. When she finally tells him the secret that she's kept hidden for eleven years - everything starts to fall apart. Why did she wait so long to tell him and is there any way she can fix the damage done to him and to her own family? Since they're no ...more
Emily Smith
This gets a big “meh” rating from me. There’s a lot in here to work with, but it never really met its potential.

As Ruth and her husband begin to talk about starting their own family she is forced to reconcile with the secret she’s kept for 11 years - even from her own husband. At 17 she gave birth and let her grandmother carry the baby away, only to never see him again, so she could pursue her dreams of Yale and a better life than the rough life that most in her Indiana hometown go on to lead.
Lian Dolan
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. The Kindest Lie is a stunner and I have no doubt it will be a much-discussed book of 2021 and a book club favorite. There is so much to unpack here. Author Nancy Johnson has created an immersive world of generations of heartbreak, old mistakes that never fade, and imperfect love. There are complicated relationships between every combination: wife and husband; mother and daughter; brother and sister; and between friends. Set in the heady days of post-election 2008, The Kindest Lie also takes ...more
Denise Adele K
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
The Kindest Lie is set the south side of Chicago and in working-class Indiana, alongside the recent election of the President Barack Obama. Ruth Tuttle has escaped the small town she grew up in and has never looked back. When her husband begins to discuss planning to have a family, Ruth's past catches up with her and she thinks about the son that she gave up for adoption at age 17, in order to leave her hometown and chase her dreams at Yale. This book was exceptional, and wove together so many c ...more
Sarah Penner
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. So much insight, emotion...well-paced tension throughout... truly, I adored this debut by dear friend Nancy Johnson. One of my favorite reads of the year. I won’t forget this book anytime soon.
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This novel is timely, relevant, & will leave you breathless w/ need to discuss this book w/ other readers!

This book is a Feb BOTM pick & I'd be more than happy to send you a link to get started with Book of the Month at a discount, but no matter how you get your hands on this book, you NEED to!

'The Kindest Lie' takes us on an emotional journey in this well-layered novel & it's complexly drawn characters. The story is moving, profound, & a deeply felt look at racial & economic injustices in Ame
Smileitsjoy (JoyMelody)
I thought I knew what I was going to get into when reading this book, but yet Nancy Johnson really threw me for a loop and I am not mad about it.
This book was beautiful and haunting and tugged on all my heart strings.
This was a debut and it did not read as one. I think Johnson did some great work in how this work alternated between Ruth and Midnight. There were times I did not know how Midnight was going to be connected to everything but Johnson did not seem to have a character that was throw
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Book of The Month: The Kindest Lie *Spoiler Discussion* 5 68 Feb 23, 2021 11:29AM  
Book of the Month...: The Kindest Lie 1 6 Feb 22, 2021 05:31AM  
Download PDF/ePub eBook The Kindest Lie: A Novel by Nancy Johnson 1 8 Feb 01, 2021 10:56AM  
Nancy Johnson is the author of the debut novel THE KINDEST LIE, which is available now everywhere books are sold! This is the story of an unlikely connection between an Ivy League-educated Black engineer searching for the son she walked away from and a poor, young white boy who finds himself adrift in a dying Indiana factory town. The novel explores race, class, identity, and the pursuit of the Am ...more

Readers also enjoyed

  • So You Want to Talk About Race
  • Orphan Train
  • Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5)
  • This Close to Okay
  • Black Buck
  • Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves
  • The Removed
  • Every Body Shines: Sixteen Stories about Living Fabulously Fat
  • The Switch
  • Her Final Words
  • His & Hers
  • The Witch's Heart
  • Infinite Country
  • The Push
  • Girl A
  • White Out (Badlands Thriller, #1)
  • The Dating Plan
  • Outlawed
See similar books…

Articles featuring this book

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
45 likes · 23 comments
“A lie could be kind to you if you wanted it to be, if you let it.” 2 likes
“Everyone simple knew it, with the certainty of new mornings dawning and darkness eclipsing the day.” 0 likes
More quotes…