Before We Were Yours

NEW YORK TIMES 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.

*Library Journal

Praise for Before We Were Yours

“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

“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun

Before We Were Yours - Lisa Wingate Summary

Before We Were Yours book summary coming soon..

Do you love Before We Were Yours book? Please share!

Before We Were Yours - Lisa Wingate Book Reviews (1,449)


Before We Were Yours5 star

This is a book not to miss. What could happen and did a lot of times is heart breaking. But for some they never forgot and kept looking 55


Wow5 star

This book was incredible. Read until the very end. The true life facts surrounding this story are tragic and terrifying. 55


Before we were yours.5 star

Best read in years. I normally don’t like when chapters skip back and forward in time but this was effortless. I felt as if I were there. Brilliant. 55


Before We Were Yours5 star

Lisa has captured the essence of the lives of these children and their families. It is truly a story of survival, heartbreak, loyalty, and courage. For some in this story, courage came without pause, and for others, courage came in baby steps. It can take a lifetime to become courageous. June 55


Badly written book - great topic3 star

I loved the topic, now reading one of the non fiction books about Tann. The book was not well written. I don’t know what the rave reviews were about! 35


Great read5 star

Wonderful yet heartbreaking story. 55


Before We Were Yours5 star

Outstanding book. Outrageous what happened to so many innocent victims. 55


Left a lot of unknowns...3 star

I though it was a great book, but what happened to the other siblings?! I really liked how it went back and forth from past to present to tell the story. 35


A real page turner5 star

The author expertly tells the gist of what is a true story through her fictional characters. I enjoyed the suspense she built by transferring between generations... her main child character enduring the nightmare of the orphanage juxtaposed with the other main character - a successful attorney in modern day who, in addition to finding out the truth about the orphanage, was also finding out who she wanted to be, even when her decisions conflicted with what her powerful family otherwise had in my mind for her. Families, Trent's story and son being another great example, are created and woven together in different ways. This book challenges the stereotype of family and showcases those special bonds we share with our heritage, our "roots." Well done! 55


Fabulous5 star

Based on actual historic facts. Sad yet captivating story. I couldn’t put it down. 55


Before We Were Yours4 star

Just plain wonderful. Heart touching. Informative. 45


Beautifully Written5 star

This heartbreaking story is beautifully told, with just enough detail to experience the pain and love that shapes these courageous children into matriarchs of successful families. You don't want to put this book down. 55


Just perfect5 star

Finished this sucker in one sitting! So insane so intense so sad so ugh.... just a good read 55


A great read!5 star

Can't say enough about this book! Best one I've read in years!! 55


Inspired5 star

This book is incredible! Fantastic work! I read this book in 5 days. I couldn't put it down! It has brought new light into my eyes. I've became interested in learning more about what happened to these children that were lost! How Georgia Tann got away with what she did! Must read this book!!! 55


Fascinating5 star

I had no idea of this terrible kind of crime. Thanks to Ms Wingate for educating me while I read and thoroughly enjoyed the story 55


Before We Were Yours5 star

I absolutely lived in this story for several days and now I am sobbing for several reasons. First of all I am sad this gripping book has ended. Secondly for the gruesome truth of Georgia Tann and the things she did. And last for all the families like the Foss' and how their lives were affected by this horrible woman. Thank you Lisa Wingate for writing one of the best books I have read in quite a while. 55


Terrific book5 star

I literally could not put it down. Truly magical and brilliant writing. 55


Ft I5 star

She did not know she didy 55


Tr5 star

First cdf 55

Before We Were Yours Book Discussions

Other Lisa Wingate Books

Before We Were Yours


Before We Were Yours

4.5     1449
The Prayer Box


The Prayer Box

4.5     127
Talk of the Town


Talk of the Town

4.5     111
The Sea Glass Sisters


The Sea Glass Sisters

4     74