Before We Were Yoursby Published 06 Jun 2017
|Before We Were Yours.pdf|
Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.
"Before We Were Yours" Reviews
My book won the GR 2017 award. Yay!
Wow! This book was really sad and had a happy ending at least. I had no idea this was a place and it breaks my heart 😢
This is written in the front of the book:
For the hundreds who vanished
and for the thousands who didn't.
May your stories
not be forgotten.
For those who help today's orphans
find forever homes.
May you always know the value
of your work
and your love.
This book is about the Foss children. They are fictional in the book but taken from real life stories. The stories of this horrible woman, Georgia Tann, who had children stolen from poor families and sold to rich families. Those that actually survived living at the Tennessee Children's Home Society. These kids were malnourished, raped. Jesus, I can't go on with all of the travisties.
You can google and find out tons of information
Here is a photo of the evil woman.
Here is a picture of a memorial to the hundreds of children who died. There are a lot of photos if you google.
That's all I have people. I just can't. I'm crying too much to write anything else.
Recommend to everyone.
A Disturbing, Heart-wrenching & Powerful Piece of Historical Fiction.
Before We Were Yours is a story about families torn apart by Social Injustice. Told from two different points of view: Rill, now known as May, who experienced horrors most of us can’t even begin to imagine; and Avery, a former Federal Prosecutor and the Daughter of a Senator, who feels the need to live up to her families’ expectations at all times.
Between the 1920’s-1950’s, The Tennessee Children’s Home Society was run by a matron named Georgia Tann. She illegally adopted out hundreds of children to the highest bidder. Those who stayed in the care of the home were abused, neglected, or worse. And sadly, many children died under her care. The tactics Ms. Tann used to scare parents into signing their children over were despicable and once that happened, there was nothing that could be done. She was the epitome of evil incarnate. Just ask Rill Foss and her four younger siblings, who found themselves in Tennessee Children’s Home Society one day, after their parents left them home alone. Rill thought life was a struggle before, but she had no idea how good they had it. One by one, Rill’s family fell apart and she lost control of everything.
Avery Stafford is a former Federal Prosecutor, who left her own life behind (which includes her fiancé) to return home to care for her ailing father, the Senator. She has been summoned to attend political functions and events with him and be the “dutiful daughter.” In the midst of attending these events, she decides to visit with her Grandmother Judy, who is suffering from Dementia. During this visit, her Grandmother divulges something to Avery that she has kept hidden all of her life. This secret leads Avery to uncover facts about her Grandmother and helps Avery down her own path to self-discovery.
The girls and women in Before We Were Yours are extremely strong & independent. My heart broke for all of the children who spent time in The Tennessee Children’s Home Society or any place that even remotely resembles that. Parts of this story were not easy to read. It is a truly profound & thought-provoking character study, which is full of atrocities that no person, let alone a child, should ever have to endure. While the subject matter is a tough one, the book is very well done and the storylines are intertwined expertly.
Lisa Wingate’s writing is phenomenal. The book is so good, it actually hurts to read.
Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine & Lisa Wingate for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Published on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon on 6.11.17.
An amazing,don't want to put down, hold the book in a big hug and wish this story never ended. Sigh* BUT....
This grabbed me from the get go. Two stories told simultaneously during 2 different time periods.
Avery's story, present day. She's an attorney who has met up with a woman in a nursing home who says she looks familiar. Curiosity starts to open this Pandora's box. Rill, a river rat, has been kidnapped along with her 4 siblings back in the 30's and sent to an orphanage to be sold to the highest bidder. Secrets are revealed that threaten to destroy a political family. Based on reality, which is disturbing in itself, I'm still left baffled. How does Judy fit in here? What did I miss?? I did have some wine while I was reading this but not during its entirety. I loved the writing, I didn't mind the romance but it could have been a great story without it.
4.5 ⭐️ and a big thanks to Jen M. for her sleuthing efforts for assisting me with the final piece of the puzzle!
OK, so I'm going to be the party pooper on this one.......I liked this one, but didn't love it. There were things I really liked about it and other things that drug it down a bit for me (hence, a 3.5 rating). So I'll try to list a few here.
First, the story. I think just about everyone knows this story. I'm sure I'm the last to read and review. A historical fiction read that has headlines plucked from the real world. Two dual stories told in alternating times between Memphis, Tennessee 1939 and present day Aiken, South Carolina. The true story portion was the horrible things that happened for over 30 years in the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage. The woman running it had some connections - judges, politicians, police, those with money...who LET her get away with basically stealing children from their parents. Their parents were poor, or less educated, or just made her mad. She then 'sold' these children to unsuspecting potential parents...and probably some suspecting too. It's utterly horrible to learn of this part of our history. The two stories are told from the point of view of a family of children ripped from their parents and put through the system and a woman, a bit lost, trying to figure out what her family is hiding after an elderly woman mistakes her for someone else.
What I liked:
*The story from the point of view of Rill - OMG, so heartbreaking. I spent so much time reading up on real articles about this time and the horrible, evil witch who ran the orphanage.
*I love historical fiction and always love to read where a small piece of history is used and a bigger story is weaved around this topic
*The audio - the narrators were fabulous! Especially the narrator for Rill. (which helped the rating)
What I disliked:
*As indicated, I do love a story weaved around a part of history. But what I don't like is when an author just piles on more and more dread and horrible things to happen. It just becomes too much and after awhile, I think the story gets a bit ridiculous (yup, The Nightengale did the same thing)
*Avery's story line. Initially, I had a hard time getting into her story. Eventually I warmed to her a bit, but the love-story portion was not needed.
*Too long - so much un-needed commentary could have been removed. Most of this came in Avery's story line. For example, way too much detail on the cab, riding in the cab, etc. After sometime, I just wanted it over.
*The very ending seemed rushed. Even though I thought it was a long read (needed editing), it just seemed so fast so many things were wrapped up too quickly with a bow.
*Perhaps it's just me, but it bugged me a bit how none of the children even tried to speak up. I understand how horrible it was, but children usually speak their mind. Even when you don't want them to. At least once speak their mind before they realize the trouble they might get in. Then, as adults, they wanted to hide the fact they were sisters.
Overall, I'm glad I read this. I learned a lot about this part of history. But I can't help but wonder, since this was the big NG Historical Fiction book of the year 2017, did I go in with the highest expectations that could not be met? I tried to separate that, but who knows....I didn't think this was the best of 2017. But everyone voted for their own favorite reads.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a 2017 Ballantine Books publication.
This is an amazing, heart wrenching story centered around the true events involving the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.
When Avery Stafford, the daughter of a prominent Senator stumbles upon the possibility her grandmother is harboring a dark family secret, she nearly becomes obsessed with her mission to uncover the truth.
The story flashes back to 1939, when Rill Foss and her siblings are snatched from their poor Mississippi Shanty boat, after their parents had to leave them behind in an emergency medical situation. They are taken to a children’s home, but before they were 'adopted' out, they endured cruel conditions and abuse.
The narrative switches back and forth between Rill and Avery, but I must confess my heart was with Rill from start to finish.
This novel pulls on the heartstrings, stirs outrage and horror, but at the end of the day the story was about familial bonds, and a spiritual connection that can not be broken, no matter what.
Wingate did a magnificent job of pulling the reader back in time, creating a realistic atmosphere, and building a fictional story around one of the most shocking black-market adoption operations in American history.
But, the real magic is creating characters we care for, cheer for, and want to champion. It may have taken a lifetime, but the truth has a way of freeing itself, exposing crimes and scandal, but it also brought out an incredible family saga that is both inspirational and heartwarming.
Avery is a central character, but she can’t compete with Rill, so the author wisely fattens up her part of the story with a little romance, which kept her character from simply becoming a means to an end. I did enjoy how the mystery unfolded, which made Avery into a bit of an amateur sleuth.
I loved the conclusion of the story, which was about a perfect as could be expected under the circumstances. It is all very bittersweet, with a lot of sadness, but there were blessed times, as well, and those are the reflections and moments that will stay with me.
There are some difficult passages in this novel, which you should be prepared for, but this is such a great story! Everyone kept telling me I needed to read this book and they were right- so I feel I should pass that advice on to you- Read this book!! You’ll be glad you did!
*For those who are unfamiliar with Georgia Tann, a Google search will give you a clear picture of her dirty deeds and how she was eventually exposed, although it was too little, too late. Shockingly, the children’s home was used by famous actresses Joan Crawford and June Allyson which is a little bit of trivia I was totally unaware of before reading the author’s notes.