Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

A Novel

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, New York : Ballantine Books, ©2017.
ISBN: 9780425284681
Characteristics: 342 pages ;,25 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 13, 2018

A captivating story. A definite page-turner!

archreads Jan 09, 2018

This historical fiction account of the Tennessee Children's Home is well written and really interesting.

Dec 07, 2017

Great fictional account of criminal adoption crimes in Tennessee from '39-50's. If not for a couple dips into chick-lit style writing, this would be a 5 star book instead of 4 1/2 for me. Some of the prose are lyrical and the narration from the oldest of the kidnapped daughters is relateable and puts you in the action.

Nov 27, 2017

Historical fiction that takes readers into the world of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and the notorious adoption market run there in the 1930s. Readers are taken back and forth from that time and place to present day South Carolina through the lives of Rill/May and Avery who connect through a misplaced bracelet. Interesting history, but story way, way, too predictable for me.

Nov 20, 2017

This was a good book! Everything about it was so well written; the characters were all visible through the author's words. I definitely recommend it!

Nov 16, 2017

Extremely well written and a very good story.

Oct 28, 2017

This is an easy read based on true events surrounding stolen children in the 1930s. Interestingly, the young protagonist, Rill, is the best drawn character in the book. It made me want to know more about the real events on which the story is based. Highly recommended.

Oct 07, 2017

this book is a very complex though sometimes painful to read. I have loved all of lisa W ingates novels esp. tending roses and PRAYER box AND STORY KEEPER

Chapel_Hill_KatieJ Oct 03, 2017

In the 21st Century, Avery meets May at a nursing home, and is immediately drawn to the old women’s story. Their story is interspersed with the story of Rill and her siblings living on the Mississippi River during the Great Depression. They are essentially kidnapped by a woman running an adoption scheme at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. There they are abused, separated, and forced to live in terrible conditions. Meanwhile, Avery is determined to figure out the relationship between her grandmother and May. I think the book would have been better if the Avery sections weren’t there. She is the daughter of a Senator, and she’s supposedly cosmopolitan and smart, but she seems to have zero understanding of how the world works. She thinks she discovered a secret that would completely ruin her family, but there is nothing about the secret that would reflect badly on the descendants of the people involved. The pacing of the story is off, with major events only being mentioned in passing. I would have liked a lot more details about the adult lives of the children taken by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. This book has a lot of similarities to Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein, but it isn’t anywhere near as good.

Oct 01, 2017

At the beginning, I did not realize how much this novel would grip me; but as the story unfolded I could not put it down. Rill and Avery are generations apart yet there is a strong link between them and a chance meeting leads to the unveiling of cruel injustice meted out to poor children in the 1930s in Tennessee. Avery believed that the truth always comes out sooner or later and she felt that one was better of knowing it at first. This is what prompted her to probe her grandmother's story. She finds out that not so many years ago orphaned or poor children were just chattel.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Sep 26, 2017

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


Add a Quote

AL_MARYA 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 a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top