Before We Were Yoursby Published 06 Jun 2017
|Before We Were Yours.pdf|
For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*
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 the dark truth. 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 to 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—Lisa 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
But the love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos, or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat. It is as ever present as a pulse.
I still maintain that The Heart's Invisible Furies and Pachinko were more deserving of the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction, but I can definitely see why Before We Were Yours has had such an emotional impact on readers.
Comparisons to Orphan Train make a lot of sense. The pacing and structure of both stories are similar, and they both use the alternating older/younger narrator format to link the present day with the past (a favoured technique by many historical fiction writers, which is also used in The Thirteenth Tale, The Alice Network, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane).
But, most of all, Before We Were Yours stands out for doing one of my absolute favourite things in historical fiction: exposing a largely unknown and horrific pocket of history.
Alternating between the perspectives of privileged and successful Avery Stafford in the present, and twelve-year-old Rill Floss in depression-era Memphis, a story emerges linking Avery's grandmother to Rill and her four siblings, who were stolen from their riverboat home and their two loving parents. Through the dual narrative and Avery's digging into the past, a tale of unimaginable horrors is uncovered.
Obviously, some people will have heard of Georgia Tann and the mass kidnapping and trafficking of Tennessee children, but I hadn't and I would bet a lot of others haven't either. In this book, we see how Tann led a team in capturing children from poor families and selling them to the wealthy. The children were first taken to a kind of halfway house where they were starved, beaten and even molested. Fictional details have been added but, in the end, it is so especially horrific because most of it is true.
If I was to complain about anything, it would be the way the characters frequently have whole conversations without specific names, just to keep the reader guessing who is who, even when it doesn't make sense for them to withhold the person's name. This is a minor quibble, though, and I do understand the necessity for it.
Overall, I really "enjoyed" the book. Rill and her sisters feel real. Their fear feels real. Their love for one another feels real. It is a history lesson wrapped up in a powerful and emotive story. A fictional tale that reveals a hidden truth.
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I absolutely loved this heartbreakingly beautiful piece of writing! I'd give this book 10 stars if I could! "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate grabbed me from the very beginning, tossed my emotions around like a salad, and never let go! I didn't want it to end.
I listened to the audio version! Both narrators deserve huge props for their performances! I actually think this novel was enhanced by the superb narration!
There are two storylines going on in this novel, one in 1939 and one is present day. They slowly unravel and come together. I thought the writing was wonderful and so were the characters in both storylines. As gut wrenching as this novel is I feel it is an important story that must be read!
There is a bit of chick lit to the part of this story taking place in modern day. I actually enjoyed the bit of romance in it, but I know some diehard historically fiction fans might not.
People are comparing this to "The Orphan Train". In my humble opinion it's a much better book.
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.
4.5 stars! What a heart-wrenching, powerful and emotional read!
I’ll start by explaining that ever since I laid eyes on this cover a few months ago, I haven’t stopped thinking of this book. There is just something about this cover that calls to me and makes me want to reach into the picture to hug and comfort these two little girls. I have never had a book cover ‘speak’ to me as powerfully as this one does.
With that being said, I was so happy that the actual story lived up to my hopes from the cover. It was an emotional, shocking and devastating story that I simply cannot stop thinking about. This fictional novel was based on true events surrounding Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage which was an organization involved with the kidnapping of children and their illegal adoptions. Tann made millions from her black-market baby adoption scheme from the 1920’s to 1950. I had not heard of this sickening piece of history until I read this and I have been googling and researching it since I finished this book. I have a hard time accepting this actually happened – it is so shocking and upsetting.
This novel follows the lives of the five Foss siblings who grow up living on a Mississippi River shantyboat with their parents in 1939. They have a unique and wild childhood with parents who shower them with love and affection in unconventional ways. One of the children, Twelve-year-old Rill Foss, grows up taking care of her younger siblings, often fulfilling parental roles. Rill is one of the narrators of the book and she is a character I will not soon forget - I absolutely adored her!
The present day story wasn't as interesting and slightly took away from my overall enjoyment. However, Rill's story more than makes up for it.
I highly recommend this wonderfully written and well researched book! This will definitely stay on my mind for a long time.
I will end with one of the several quotes that stood out for me. “I learned that you need not be born into a family to be loved by one.”
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.