Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale. 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 fiance, 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"--
Publisher: New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780425284681
Branch Call Number: FICTION Wingate Lisa 05/2017
Characteristics: 342 pages ;,25 cm


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Based upon the infamous Tennessee Children's Home Society child trafficking racket, this is a heartrending tale of two girls, two generations, and the power of family love. Twelve-year-old Rill is snatched from her riverboat home and forced into the institution, along with her four siblings, in 1... Read More »

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Sep 23, 2019

Great story. Four children living on a shanty boat are taken from their parents and put into an orphanage to be sold to rich clients. Abuse and tearing family apart. Current times cross paths with the past.

Sep 04, 2019

This book reminded me of The House Girl. So much so that I had to go and look it up to check if they were written by the same author. They're not.

Both books alternate chapters between a really compelling story from the past and a modern day character who is somehow tied to the historical story. In both cases, the modern day character adds very little to the overall story apart from making you wish you could get to the next chapter already to get back to the good parts.

I liked this book, but I'd have liked it more without so much intrusion from the present.

Aug 28, 2019

A simply fantastic novel. The writer (Lisa Wingate) moves the story between past and present, creating great story tension so you can hardly wait to get from one to the other and to try and figure out the connections between the two time periods. It's a story, both sad and uplifting at the same time with so many nooks and crannies of left out story, that it feels all the more real. Nothing in real life ever works out completely. There are always so many unresolved issues -as is true with this novel. I read tons of mysteries and thrillers - this story will hold your attention with the best of them.

Aug 13, 2019

The story looked good but wasn't; too much back and forth between past and present.

Jul 22, 2019

This novel is a gem. Based on the true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and it’s wicked director Georgia Tann, the fictitious characters created by the author come to life in a story of love, challenge and family secrets. Alternating between present day and 1939, you gradually discover how Avery Stafford, born and raised in a family of wealth and politics, discovers who her great-grandparents were. You also learn about the life on Shantyboats on the Mississippi and one of the families living aboard the Arcadia. The author also makes the reader aware that in some prominent families, the truth is not always sought out. The main protagonist, Rill Foss, is an endearing character. Excellent book.

Jul 11, 2019

I give it an "eh, just ok..." or 3.25 stars. I'm challenging myself to not give up on books I'm not immersed in from the start.

It took me about 100 pages to get into the book. I'm glad I read it, if only to learn about the history - I had never heard of the Tennessee Children's Home Society. Rill's storyline (the flashbacks) were the heart of the book and I felt that every bit of Avery (the present day) was unnecessary and flat.

_McGeek_ Jul 03, 2019

I'll be honest, I judged this book by it's cover, and I wish I hadn't, because it was not at all what I'd expected, and the judging made me put off reading it for a while. It's a fictitious story line based on an infuriating and heart-wrenching true story in American history that I had no idea went on until so recently (and no doubt still does). The storyteller does a great job of adding mystery to keep those pages turning, also I'm a fan of working a past and present story line together for the all revealing ending, which is what we have here.

Jun 23, 2019

Well written and keeps you guessing until the end. Sad story of family being ripped apart by corruption.

Jun 17, 2019

Awesome novel and I really love it. It tells us a story about granddaughter found out her grandma's secrets, and she also found who she really is and a husband during this journey. The story itself is sad, children who has family but were stolen by bad people and give to other families. I really love the ending, sisters could be together, and no more burdens to hold. They deserve to get united and share life. It's a book about relationship, friendship, self-knowing, and truth. Nothing could beat the truth.

Jun 11, 2019

After finishing the book, the deceptively sweet looking cover now makes my heart hurt. This was a dual timeline story, but the historical narrative was the predominant tale. There were familial links between the two, but the contemporary timeline mostly served as a mystery-solving conduit. It also inserted a little unnecessary and overshadowed romance, since most readers will have been taken in by Rill's heartbreaking journey. A journey that piqued my history-loving mind and spurred some fact-finding of my own. This author did some amazing research and some creative writing with what she had to work with. It wasn't all heartbreak, though. As the two narratives finally converge, there was a sorely late, but satisfyingly welcome happy and emotional ending. Definitely, a story that will stay with me.

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Add a Quote
Jun 17, 2019

"No matter how much we may love the melody of a bygone day or imagine the song of a future one, we must dance within the music of today, or we will always be out of step, stumbling around in something that doesn't suit the moment."

Oct 12, 2018

“We plan our days, but we don’t control them.” - p. 95

Oct 12, 2018

“The argument ends where all arguments do—on the altar of compromise.” - p. 255

Oct 12, 2018

“I learned that you need not be born into a family to be loved by one.” - p. 314

Oct 12, 2018

“A woman’s past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she
chooses. Her own music. - p. 317

ArapahoeMaryA Jun 13, 2017

I clench my teeth so hard the pain travels all the way to the top of my head. I'm glad for it - it's just a little ache and I know where it comes from. I can stop it anytime I want. The one in my heart is way bigger. I can't fix it no matter how hard I try. It scares me so much that I can't even breathe.

"…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.


Add Age Suitability
Jan 20, 2018

Mya614 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Sep 26, 2017

BRUCE PILCHER thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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