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Based on one of America's real-life scandals. Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country.
In the year 1939 Memphis, Tennessee, Rill Foss is a twelve-year-old river gypsy whose family lives on a Mississippi River shantyboat. When an emergency takes their parents to the hospital, strangers take the children from their world and place into an orphanage. Rill fights to keep his sisters and brother together.
Present day, in Aiken, South Carolina, Avery Staffords is the daughter of a U.S. senator with a career as an assistant D.A. in Baltimore, Maryland. She is planning her wedding when suddenly her world tips upside down the day her father becomes ill. She returns home to help and finds out about her hidden past.
Number of Pages: 368
Vendor: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.13 (inches)|
"Advance praise for Before We Were Yours. 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.” —Library Journal
“A fantastic novel . . . Wingate is a compelling storyteller, steeping her narrative with a forward momentum that keeps the reader . . . engaged and curious.”—Publishers Weekly
“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power. That Georgia Tann and her Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society could actually exist, unraveling the lives of countless children, stealing their pasts and changing their futures, will give you chills. But the real feat of this stirring novel is how deeply Wingate plunges us into the heart and mind of twelve-year-old river gypsy Rill Foss. Rill’s utterly singular voice will stay with you long after the last page is turned, as will Wingate’s courage to follow her anywhere. . . . Vivid and affecting.”—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun
“A powerful tale of family, of sisters, of secrets kept and secrets shared. I absolutely loved this book. I’m still basking in the afterglow, in shock at the true-crime elements, in awe at the journey of these characters who seem to have immortal souls.”—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“An unforgettable read . . . This captivating novel will quite likely break your heart, but because it’s Lisa Wingate at the helm, you will not be left broken. She is a master storyteller and never fails to get to the heart of what makes us hold on to hope.”—Susan Meissner, author of Secrets of a Charmed Life
“Lisa Wingate’s heart-racing tale of a family ripped apart by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society scandal rang so true I couldn’t sleep until I knew their fate.”—Julie Kibler, author of Calling Me Home
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 is sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . [Lisa] Wingate is a master-storyteller, and youll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tanns legacy."Parade
"One of the years best books . . . It is almost a cliché to say a book is lovingly written but that phrase applies clearly to Lisa Wingates latest novel, Before We Were Yours. This story about children taken from their parents through kidnapping or subterfuge and then placed for adoption, for a price, clearly pours out of Wingates heart. . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel. It invades your heart from the very first pages and stays there long after the book is finished. Few novelists could strike the balance this story requires but Wingate does it with assurance. There are a lot of books that will catch your eye this summer, some from our best storytellers. Make sure this one is on your radar. It should not be missed."The Huffington Post
"[An] affecting new novel."The New York Post
"Every now and then a novel comes along that sweeps me off my reading feet. Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, is such a book. . . . Its a great book-club read, one of those books that teaches you something, gives you lots to discuss and even more to think about. . . . Take note: This may be the best book of the year."Shreveport Times
"This story is heartfelt and genuine, especially as Wingate explores the idea of home and family from a youngsters point of view."Historical Novels Review
"Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nations history and weaves a tale of enduring power. That Georgia Tann and her Memphis Tennessee Childrens Home Society could actually exist, unraveling the lives of countless children, stealing their pasts and changing their futures, will give you chills. But the real feat of this stirring novel is how deeply Wingate plunges us into the heart and mind of twelve-year-old river gypsy Rill Foss. Rills utterly singular voice will stay with you long after the last page is turned, as will Wingates courage to follow her anywhere. . . . Vivid and affecting."Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun
"A powerful tale of family, of sisters, of secrets kept and secrets shared. I absolutely loved this book. Im still basking in the afterglow, in shock at the true-crime elements, in awe at the journey of these characters who seem to have immortal souls."Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
WilaniFranklin, NCAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5emotionally charged book that is powerfully writtenOctober 21, 2017WilaniFranklin, NCAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5What an emotionally charged book that was powerfully written. I love the way the book moved back and forth between the past and present. I had not heard about the Tennessee Children's Home and how sad for so many families pulled apart. This author did an awesome job in portraying this story,
ShaiNorfolk, NEAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Outstanding and hauntingSeptember 29, 2017ShaiNorfolk, NEAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Every once in a while I read a book that has a profound effect on me. I remember the story and the characters as if wed met and had meaningful conversations. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is that kind of book.
The story itself is heart-wrenching and Ms. Wingates gifted storytelling ability took me back to 1939 with Rill and then swept me to present day with Avery.
Lisa Wingate has been one of my favorite authors for years, and if it were possible, Id give a ten out of five (yes you read that right) rating. Before We Were Yours went far beyond my expectations and it left me with more questions than answers.
Rills strength and courage throughout her ordeal as a ward of the Tennessee Childrens Home Society accurately reflects the retelling of the horrors children encountered at the hands of evil Ms. Tann. Like Rill, those who survived the terror and abuse there, that no child deserves, were left with scars far deeper than flesh and bone.
I cannot tout the greatness of this book near as much as Id love to. There arent words big enough to express the outstanding story within its pages. What I can say is that its haunting just as it should be.
I learned that you need not be born into a family to be loved by one. Loc 5115
Brittany_BnBblogAge: 25-34Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Before We Were Yours Lisa Wingate (4.5-5 Stars)September 12, 2017Brittany_BnBblogAge: 25-34Gender: FemaleQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0Before We Were Yours is based on the true story of the cruel operations of Georgia Tann and her adoption agency that used its connections to adopt poor children from Tennessee to the wealthy, leading to one of the greatest scandals of its kind in American history. The novel presents two interconnected stories, one set in Depression-era Tennessee and the other based in the present day. As a federal prosecutor in Maryland, Avery Stafford has made a name for herself, separate from her familys connections and fathers career as a senator. When her father receives a cancer diagnosis, Avery returns home to South Carolina to assist him with his campaign, leading her to encounter a mysterious family history that she never knew. During the Great Depression, Rill Foss and her siblings were kidnapped from their home on a Mississippi River shantyboat. Their experience living at an orphanage run by the Tennessee Childrens Home Society ripped apart their family and changed their lives forever. Bridging past and present, Rills story reveals her attempts to reunite her family and the powers at work trying to keep the truth hidden.
Acclaimed author, Lisa Wingate, writes a compelling story about the secrets of a past generation and the tragic story of the Tennessee Childrens Home Society orphanage. Her characters jump off the page, making this incredible tale come to life.
Overall, I was very impressed with Before We Were Yours. Although its not released by the Christian publishers that I normally read and review, I depended on the fact that Ms. Wingate is a long-time author within the genre. The novel does not have any outright Christian themes, but remains relatively clean in terms of language and theme. The story itself would not be considered G or PG rated, although I was impressed at how Ms. Wingate did write it in such a way to leave much to the imagination, without any graphic scenes or descriptions. From a historical perspective, the novel is absolutely fascinating and very well researched, with Ms. Wingate utilizing her characters to add an emotional depth to the facts behind the Tennessee Childrens Home Society scandal. While I am not typically a person to read a book about children placed in a cruel situation, the novel provides enough resolution to that storyline through its contemporary plotline to leave the reader well satisfied with the novel overall.
Brittany at the Books and Biscuits Blog
hplady5 Stars Out Of 5Absolutely amazing bookAugust 10, 2017hpladyQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0Before We Were Yours
By Lisa Wingate
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a truly amazing read based on true events that will break your heart. Beautifully written and heart wrenching, the story tells the lives of two different time periods and how the people in them connect across the years.
In 1939, the Foss children were living on their boat with their parents who were at the hospital giving birth to their newest brother or sister. Police came and forcibly removed them, carrying them away to a home where they were told their parents would come find them at. The children were mistreated and abused at this home and their parents never did come. They began to understand that the home was part of the Tennessee Children's Home Society and that they were being put up for adoption. The oldest girl, Rill, fought so hard to keep them together and prevent abuse from happening to her younger siblings.
In present day, Avery Stafford, part a wealthy and prominent family that has been in the government for several generations, is home to help care for her father who has cancer. She is in line to be his successor and has worked hard for this day. A chance encounter at a nursing home with an elderly lady named May will change her life forever.
May looks eerily like Avery's grandma Judy. She even says that Avery has her bracelet, which was a gift from Avery's Grandma. The two ladies begin a discussion that will lead Avery to search her family history and discover shocking secrets that could affect their entire futures. Along the way, Avery begins to question her own life and what she wants to do. She realizes that her future is not as planned out as she has imagined.
The two stories interweave perfectly to create an amazing finish that will leave you hungering for more. I absolutely recommend this book!! I received a free copy of this story for my honest review from NetGalley.
Seasons of GraceAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Loved this book!July 21, 2017Seasons of GraceAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5When Lisa writes a story she takes you there - the setting, the characters - it all comes to life. She engages you mentally, emotionally, personally. You visualize it, feel it, live it!
This book was another winner for me. The characters came alive! I lived the story through them. There were times when my blood boiled, my eyes leaked tears, and my heart felt like it was being pulled out of my chest. Other times, I celebrated, rejoiced, and anticipated what was to come. I wanted to read the ending just so I wouldn't have to deal with the suspense. It was like sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time, fingers clenched, just waiting...
This book is written in past and present day, so there is quite a bit of flip flopping back and forth between the chapters. There were times when I read Rill's story and skipped over Avery, or vise versa, because I couldn't stop and switch characters. Then I would go back read the other to catch up. It really didn't matter either way, it only took me about 48 hrs to complete. It kept me up late, made me shirk my housekeeping duties, and will remain with me for a long time to come.
Why? Because although the characters in this book are fictional, the story has historical foundation. Those kinds of stories stick with you, they tug at your heart, they make you aware. It's sad to read about what happened. There's an odd twist of fate for those who turned out okay, survived the system, and enjoyed good lives. A joy and sadness parallel.
Don't miss this book! It's beautifully written, compelling, and incredibly well done. Thank you, Lisa!
I was blessed with a free copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not asked to review this book positively. All opinions are my own.