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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 uickly 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 uncertaintyAiken 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 uestions 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 redemptionBased 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

10 thoughts on “Before We Were Yours

  1. says:

    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 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 readersComparisons to Orphan Train make a lot of sense The pacing and structure of both stories are similar and they both use the alternating olderyounger narrator format to link the present day with the past a favoured techniue 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 historyAlternating 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 uncoveredObviously 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 freuently 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 uibble though and I do understand the necessity for itOverall 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 truthBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. says:

    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 notPeople are comparing this to The Orphan Train In my humble opinion it's a much better bookHighly recommended

  3. says:

    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 valueof your work and your loveThis 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 Mel

  4. says:

    Rating 35OK so I'm going to be the party pooper on this oneI liked this one but didn't love it There were things I really liked about it and other things that drug it down a bit for me hence a 35 rating So I'll try to list a few hereFirst the story I think just about everyone knows this story I'm sure I'm the last to read and review A historical fiction read that has headlines plucked from the real world Two dual stories told in alternating times between Memphis Tennessee 1939 and present day Aiken South Carolina The true story portion was the horrible things that happened for over 30 years in the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage The woman running it had some connections judges politicians police those with moneywho LET her get away with basically stealing children from their parents Their parents were poor or less educated or just made her mad She then 'sold' these children to unsuspecting potential parentsand probably some suspecting too It's utterly horrible to learn of this part of our history The two stories are told from the point of view of a family of children ripped from their parents and put through the system and a woman a bit lost trying to figure out what her family is hiding after an elderly woman mistakes her for someone elseWhat I likedThe story from the point of view of Rill OMG so heartbreaking I spent so much time reading up on real articles about this time and the horrible evil witch who ran the orphanageI love historical fiction and always love to read where a small piece of history is used and a bigger story is weaved around this topicThe audio the narrators were fabulous Especially the narrator for Rill which helped the ratingWhat I dislikedAs indicated I do love a story weaved around a part of history But what I don't like is when an author just piles on and dread and horrible things to happen It just becomes too much and after awhile I think the story gets a bit ridiculous yup The Nightengale did the same thingAvery's story line Initially I had a hard time getting into her story Eventually I warmed to her a bit but the love story portion was not neededToo long so much un needed commentary could have been removed Most of this came in Avery's story line For example way too much detail on the cab riding in the cab etc After sometime I just wanted it over The very ending seemed rushed Even though I thought it was a long read needed editing it just seemed so fast so many things were wrapped up too uickly with a bow Perhaps it's just me but it bugged me a bit how none of the children even tried to speak up I understand how horrible it was but children usually speak their mind Even when you don't want them to At least once speak their mind before they realize the trouble they might get in Then as adults they wanted to hide the fact they were sisters Overall I'm glad I read this I learned a lot about this part of history But I can't help but wonder since this was the big NG Historical Fiction book of the year 2017 did I go in with the highest expectations that could not be met? I tried to separate that but who knowsI didn't think this was the best of 2017 But everyone voted for their own favorite reads

  5. says:

    45 stars What a heart wrenching powerful and emotional readI’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 upsettingThis 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 uniue 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 herThe present day story wasn't as interesting and slightly took away from my overall enjoyment However Rill's story 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 uotes that stood out for me “I learned that you need not be born into a family to be loved by one”

  6. says:

    Oh My Goodness What a great read If you're ready for a story you can really sink your teeth into with characters that virtually come to life here you go Adoption matron may have been most prolific serial killer BEFORE WE WERE YOURS takes the reader on a heartbreaking but mesmerizing journey depicting shocking truths about the real life Tennessee Children's Home Society that was active from the 1920's thru 1950an organization that basically schemed lied kidnapped and brokered children for profitwhile neglecting molesting and horrifically abusing those in their so called care even to the point of deathBut all is not doom and gloomWe have two stories that unfold here; while one family is literally being ripped apart a member of another family discovers truths about herself and an unbelievable family secretwhile finding true loveInteresting and important work of historical fiction Need to check out from Lisa WingateMany thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the ARC in exchange for an honest review

  7. says:

    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

  8. says:

    'Before We Were Yours' is a highly emotional and moving fictional story inspired by true events Through the telling of this story Lisa Wingate sheds light on the despicable real life actions of Georgia Tann a woman that ran a black market child trafficking ring masked as a legitimate adoption agency for decades in Tennessee She catered to the rich and famous providing largely blond haired and light eyed children to those that could afford to pay her outrageous price She made millions off of the sale of children who were often kidnapped This book spans generations alternating between present day and the past The past story is narrated by the oldest Foss sibling Rill aka May Avery Stafford a former federal prosecutor and the daughter of a prominent Senator tells the present day story Gradually the two storylines intersect and the connection comes to lightThe fictional story of the five Foss children parallels the real life experiences of hundreds of victims of Georgia Tann's illegal adoption agency the Tennessee Children's Home Society The children are stolen from their family's riverboat one night in 1939 Their parents have to go to the hospital due to complications with their mother's pregnancy and childbirth Left alone the children are taken by corrupt police officers working for the notorious child traffickerImmediately the children are thrust into a grim situation They experience abuse and cruelty at the hands of the people running the orphanage Tragedy and loss become all that they know as they are stripped of their former identities Separated renamed and adopted out their lives are forever changedAvery Stafford first meets May when she is visiting a nursing home to support her father's political campaign There is something about the elderly lady that calls to her Later when she is contacted by the nursing home administrator to say that May took her bracelet she goes against the administrator's instructions and decides to visit with the lady personally Their first meeting sets a series of events in motionAvery begins digging into the past She is determined to uncover the connection between her grandmother who suffers from dementia and the mysterious woman that she met at the nursing home In her brief moments of lucidity her grandmother's appears to light up with recognition when she mentions May However she is less than forthcoming Avery is left to follow the cryptic clues if she wants to unearth her grandmother's secrets knowing it may be the downfall of her highly public familyThis is the type of story that raises awareness and will leave you feeling outraged It was emotional inspiring and heartfelt I was completely lost in the plight of the Foss children while I was heartbroken by the absolute injustice of it all Ms Wingate did a beautiful job of merging fact and fiction The writing was flawless and the story was well crafted My heart went out to the Foss children as I lost myself in their story Like so many others I was completely unaware of the existence of this illegal adoption agency and the wide spread corruption that allowed these child traffickers to prosper for so many years This book prompted me to educate myself on the topic and I was appalled by what I foundThis was a tragic and often depressing story However I am so glad that I read it It is an important story and one that needed to be told It definitely isn't a rainbows and unicorns type of story but it will move you and leave a lasting impressionCheck out of my reviews at wwwbookaddicthavencom

  9. says:

    Sometimes a story must be told Sometimes when the average rating for a book by 65 652 people is 439we are foolish to not read it Sometime books rated high are Goodreads Choice Winners really ‘are’ heartbreaking beautiful emotional important historical powerful eye opening educational based on real life scandals wonderful and compellingSad with a happy ending Like many have said — I am glad I read it The horrors were gut wrenching no other way to say it The few sparkles had me feeling ‘thank God’ As far as ‘storytelling’ goes two storylines past presentI enjoyed both stories so completely different but my heart went out deeper for the past story with 12 year old Rill and his brothers and sisters SIDE NOTE1I sincerely feel thankful to the Goodreads Community——it’s books like this 'and' the other book which I’m almost done ‘listening’ to “Only Child” by Rhiannonwhich has me feel extra close to you BOOK PEOPLEESPECIALLY TODAY — Given the horrific events in Florida—THE NEWS TODAY MAKES ME SICK I just want to do a GIGANTIC GROUP HUG WITH EACH OF YOUThank you to the many readers of “Before We Were Yours” and sharing your heartfelt reviews Thank you to the author Lisa Wingate for writing a book we needed to read 2I’m about to take a ‘small’ neighbor walk injured my right uadricep muscle a few days ago even walking is a challengebut I need the fresh air — I’ve recently been engaged with DEEP AFFECTING BOOKSso much sadness plus my own body setbacks again haha After I finish ‘Only Child’ I need a comic release book Got suggestions??Lighting candles tonight on Valentines Daynot for usbut with thoughts of all the people who this devastating news in Florida day are hurting beyond anything I can imagine Happy Valentines to each of YOU ❤️

  10. says:

    While this novel is based on historical events and real persons who existed in Tennessee in the first half of the 20th century preying on poor families and their children I found that I had great difficulty relating to it primarily because of the contemporary story and the primary protagonist My thoughts vary on this book Some aspects are well done and the expose of the decades long adoption ring in Memphis is both interesting and abhorrent But the total presentation still bothers me particularly the heroine of the contemporary story who might have stepped out of a romance novel I wonder how this could have been done differentlyAvery seems the Southern society girl made good who has succeeded brilliantly but is still being hounded by the somewhat stereotypical women around her to marry ASAP in order to fulfill her role in life There is so much talk of beautifully groomed people and lawns and flower beds in the contemporary story that I grew tired of reading it And romance is fine but must it be such a large component of what should be such a serious historical novel Or perhaps that's the novel I wish it to be not what it is I am glad to have learned of this history and to have had the opportunity to learn of it through historical fiction which I find a valuable medium I only wish the contemporary story had seemed as serious to me I do realize that many if not most readers have or may disagree with me but I can only speak from my experienceA copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review