- Author: Lisa Wingate
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (June 6, 2017)
- Language: English
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.
Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017 • Winner of the Southern Book Prize • If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection
“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
I wasn’t familiar with Lisa Wingate’s books before I read “Before We Were Yours” but I’ll be looking for others now that I’ve read it. I was drawn fully into the story, set in both the 1930s and present day. It follows the story of the Foss children in the ’30s and Avery Stafford in present day, and brings to light a horrifying and shameful real-life scandal.
From the ’30s to 1950, a woman named Georgia Tann, who ran the (Memphis) Tennessee Children’s Home Society, stole poor children from their families and newborn babies from single mothers and sold them to celebrities, politicians and others who could afford them. It was all done under the guise of helping orphaned and abandoned children find good homes, but it was actually human trafficking.
Avery Stafford finds a puzzling photograph that leads her into an ever more confusing story of secrets and lies inside her upright, respected family. Along the way, she starts to question the man her family has picked for her to marry and her expected role within the family. What follows is a heartwarming story of love, betrayal, memories and staying true to your heart. In addition to the well developed characters and background love story, I liked the realistic view into the 1930s.
This is a REAL story. It is poignant, sad, unbelievable and a must read to learn about how families were destroyed and children were mistreated in orphanages prior to 1950. The way children were stolen and placed in homes under cruel caretakers is chilling. Children were stolen, warehoused in homes until they could be adopted into “high class” families. The family story centered in Lisa Wingate’s book describes five children and their parents who live on a river houseboat on inlet to Mississippi River. They are close to lowest of socio-economic status possible. But,they dearly care for one another, especially the children and their mother. At term with pregnancy for twins when the midwife is unable to deliver the mother, the midwife insists the father take her to a hospital. They are told the twins do not survive, but the mother does. When the mother and father return to their houseboat the other five children have been stolen by the authorities. How the children survive their existence under the ugly supervisor, Miss Tann, their separate adoptions and how they manage to regain contact with each other is an unbelievable story. Andy was not stopped until 1950.