THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT—A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller
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.
If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection • Finalist for the Southern Book Prize • Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017
“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.” —People
“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.” —Parade
“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel.” —The Huffington Post
Before We Were Yours book summary coming soon..
I absolutely loved this book. Very well written and extremely informative. Recommend it highly!!!! 55
This book is really a 10 star book. Yes, the characters are fiction but have been put into a story that is , sickeningly, all too real. Unaware of any of this history prior to reading this book, I am awed by the writing, devastated by the reality, heartened by the hope and humbled by the idea of the music that we all live by. The references to the ‘ music’ of our pasts, present and future, are breathtaking. To ms. Wingate, thank you for writing this story. 55
Fabulously written loved it 55
My hear raced as I read each page, anxious to know what was next for the children. Heart wrenching story written so well. 55
This story is everything other reviewer says: powerful, eye opening, amazing. I cried all day while reading it. 55
I stared this book a while back and set it aside partway through. It didn’t grab me in that initial sitting. I picked it back up a,d couldn’t put it down. Very compelling historical fiction. 55
One of the best books I have ever read!! It’s one you can’t put down......reading well into the night......and picking back up first thing in the morning over coffee!! What a story!! I feel so connected with the characters and their lives! Fluids of emotions! Didn’t want to book to end! ❤️❤️❤️ 55
What a great read. Loved the writing and all of the characters. My only complaint.....it ended too soon. 55
Amazing based on horrible tragedies committed against orphans and poor children for over two decades. I could not put it down. Literally cried boohoo tears and that has t happened in a long time. Wonderfully written. Thank you for this important story. 55
Before We Were Yours is an emotional read. It is especially poignant given that it is based on historical events. The story is told by two narrators in different time periods; the story lines eventually intersect. Ms. Wingate’s story is powerful. Her twelve-year-old narrator, Rill Foss tells the heart-wrenching story of the impact of the Georgia Tann/Tennessee Children’s Home Society scandal on her family. Juxtaposed to the abject poverty of the depression-era Foss family is the present day affluence of the Stafford family. While Avery Stafford is being groomed to follow in her family’s political footsteps as well as become the perfect southern wife, she is busy discovering her grandmother’s secrets. Along the way, Avery discovers a few things about herself, the person she wants to be, and the sort of person who deserves her partnership in life. I loved Rill Foss’ story. Life on the river is simple, but her loving parents make it seem grand for her and her siblings. It is a compelling tale not only of family but also a widely unknown part of the Great Depression. I found present-day Avery Stafford’s story less interesting primarily because I would have expected a former federal prosecutor to have more sleuthing and deducing skills. Avery spends a lot of time perplexed by the evasive answers she receives from her grandmother and a mysterious senior in a nursing home. Avery also spends a great deal of time passively pondering her engagement to her childhood friend. I found this well-educated woman of means to be highly frustrating even though I know Avery’s story is drawn out to allow sufficient time for the Foss family drama to play out. It is not until Avery meets Trent Jr. that the modern day suspense builds to the point of almost equaling the heart-wrenching 1939 saga. The historic facts are well researched, and the plot flows easily. The meddling moms are a fun addition to the modern day story. Fact and fiction are wonderfully woven together, and Ms. Wingate provides several research resources for readers who would like to investigate the historical aspects of this book further. Before We Were Yours is ultimately redemptive, but the book as a whole is sad and mournful. The story continues to haunt me, and I’m sure Before We Were Yours will long be a book I use as a comparison for future reads. #MustRead2018 The audiobook is fantastically narrated by Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber. 55
Beautifully told story that pulls and plays on every emotion. The author tells an amazing story and develops characters you really know. 55
Excellent, couldn't put it down. Very believable. 45
Super good!! 55
This historical fiction is truly a wonderful page-turner! 55
I couldn’t put it down 55
Before We Were Yours is an excellent story. Hard to put down. 55
This book is heart wrenching. To know that this actually happened to so many children is truly sad and breaks my heart. Read this book in a day. It's very hard to put down. 55
Having lived in an orphanage as a child this spell binding book checked many boxes for me. I was immediately pulling for the family to succeed. Very well written and I am now a fan or Lisa Wingate. 55
So glad my book club picked this book! The children in this book were strong & encouraging. The fact that Ms Tann got away with such child abuse is appalling. I am sad for each little soul that had to endure such hardship and for the parents whose children were taken away from their rightful family. A very moving story! 55
Great book. I enjoyed reading it very much. I loved learning about this piece of US history. 55