Before We Were Yours
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 that the truth is much darker. 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 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—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.

Before We Were Yours Details

TitleBefore We Were Yours
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJun 6th, 2017
PublisherBallantine Books
ISBN0425284689
ISBN-139780425284681
Number of pages352 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical, Fiction, Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Adult, Christian Fiction, Parenting, Adoption, Young Adult, Romance, Womens Fiction

Before We Were Yours Review

  • Carol
    May 27, 2017
    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 1950.....an organization that basically schemed, lied, kidnapped and brokered 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 1950.....an organization that basically schemed, lied, kidnapped and brokered children for profit.....while neglecting, molesting, and horrifically abusing those in their "so called" care even to the point of death.But all is not doom and gloom......We 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 secret....while finding true love.Interesting and important work of historical fiction. Need to check out more from Lisa Wingate!Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jamie
    February 15, 2017
    One of the perks of being a reasonably successful author is that the FedEx man regularly brings me Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of soon-to-be-published novels. These are sent by editors who are hoping I'll read the book and offer a blurb, which will then go on the back of the book.The latest was BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate. I just finished it and am sort of wallowing in the post-novel afterglow, completely blown away. This was such a powerful, satisfying read about a group of sibling ch One of the perks of being a reasonably successful author is that the FedEx man regularly brings me Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of soon-to-be-published novels. These are sent by editors who are hoping I'll read the book and offer a blurb, which will then go on the back of the book.The latest was BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate. I just finished it and am sort of wallowing in the post-novel afterglow, completely blown away. This was such a powerful, satisfying read about a group of sibling children who were cast into the Tennessee Children's Home Society in the late 30s, run by notorious child-trafficker, Georgia Tann, who kidnapped children and sold them to wealthy families.I highly recommend adding it to your "To read" list. I loved this book.
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  • Dorie
    March 29, 2017
    I was blown away by this story and the great writing! I’ve never read a novel by Ms.Wingate but I will certainly be looking for more of her books.This novel tells the historically correct story about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which was run by Georgia Tann in the late 1930’s. The story of the main characters was fiction but based on what really happened to many of the children in this orphanage.The plot is written from two points of view, that of Rill, later named May by her adoptive I was blown away by this story and the great writing! I’ve never read a novel by Ms.Wingate but I will certainly be looking for more of her books.This novel tells the historically correct story about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which was run by Georgia Tann in the late 1930’s. The story of the main characters was fiction but based on what really happened to many of the children in this orphanage.The plot is written from two points of view, that of Rill, later named May by her adoptive parents and Avery, the daughter of a senator whose grandmother is now in a nursing home. From Rill’s story we learn about the children, many of whom were living in river shanty boats or other very low income type housing who were literally stolen away from their parents. Her story is heartbreaking but also triumphant, as she tries to protect her younger siblings who were all taken from their shanty boat on the river while her mother and father were in the city while taking care of her mother who was in a complicated labor and delivery. The children in this particular “home for orphans” were treated terribly, families ripped apart, the children living in terrible conditions and malnourished, some emotionally and physically abused. Avery, who was always very close to her grandmother, sees that she is slowing losing her memories and yet reveals in a conversation to Avery that there may be more to her life than anyone had ever known. When Avery meets another woman in a different nursing home who strongly resembles her grandmother and has a picture with her grandmother in it, she is determined to find out how these women are connected. She is also sure that there are more secrets to her grandmother’s life that she wants to learn about feeling that her grandmother’s memory is slowly slipping away and there is a limited amount of time to uncover the truth.There are other strong characters in this book that are all well developed. The writing is exceptional and the two story lines keep the reader puzzled as to how they will connect for the first two thirds of the book making the end discoveries a very engaging read.Not only is the book well written but it informs us of the atrocities that went on for many years under the Tennessee orphan home system. After I read the book I went online to learn more about this period in history and there is a lot to discover. I recommend this book to everyone who likes to read a well written character driven novel with a suspenseful atmosphere and historical details.I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, thank you so much!
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  • Jill Croce-McGill
    May 22, 2017
    I was completely blown away by this powerful and heart-wrenching story about family, love, perseverance, and loss! This novel was inspired by the horrifying true events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, run by Georgia Tann from the 1920’s-1950’s. The plot is written from two points of view, weaving between past and present, this is the story of how one family’s past has shaped its present. Lisa Wingate’s writing is absolutely flawless. She pulls you deep into the lives of each character I was completely blown away by this powerful and heart-wrenching story about family, love, perseverance, and loss! This novel was inspired by the horrifying true events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, run by Georgia Tann from the 1920’s-1950’s. The plot is written from two points of view, weaving between past and present, this is the story of how one family’s past has shaped its present. Lisa Wingate’s writing is absolutely flawless. She pulls you deep into the lives of each character where you feel like you are inside the novel witnessing all these heinous events up close.Before We Were Yours is one of the best historical fiction books I have read to date, it will definitely stay with me for a very long time. If I could give this more than 5 stars I would - Highly recommend!I would like to thank First to Read and Lisa Wingate for the ARC of this book.
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  • Kristie
    April 9, 2017
    This was an excellent story inspired by real life events of which I was previously unaware. For once, I have to admit that the comparison in the blurb is good. This is similar to The Orphan Train in pacing and concept. Both books surround events in history that I didn’t know of until reading the books and both tell the story of children that survived ordeals in their childhood that no one should have to go through. This book is based upon the events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which This was an excellent story inspired by real life events of which I was previously unaware. For once, I have to admit that the comparison in the blurb is good. This is similar to The Orphan Train in pacing and concept. Both books surround events in history that I didn’t know of until reading the books and both tell the story of children that survived ordeals in their childhood that no one should have to go through. This book is based upon the events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which ran from some time in the 1920s to 1950. The end of the book contains an author’s note, which explains the true story of Georgia Tann, who ran the society, and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. I enjoyed learning about the true parts of the story. The truth was interesting, even though it was also sad and frustrating. I can’t imagine being one of the families effected by this, either as a child or a parent.The characters in this story are fictional, but well written and developed. You feel for them as they go through the story. You worry for them and can imagine that real people would feel similarly to the way these characters felt. It is understandable how the children would be made to “behave” and do what they are told. The descriptions of the settings were also well written and I could imagine how life was for the people in this story. This was the first book by Lisa Wingate that I have read. I thought the writing was just great. The story kept me engaged the entire time and maintained a nice pace throughout, doling out information as you go. As stated above, I also thought the author’s note was well done. I would be interested in reading more of her work.I would recommend this for anyone interested in historical fiction, but be aware of child abuse triggers. 4.5 starsThank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group / Ballantine Books for providing me with an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Cass ☘
    April 29, 2017
    I hadn't heard of Lisa Wingate and not really being familiar with historical novels, I did my research. The synopsis states that this novel is "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". I knew of the Orphan Trains, but that little gem escaped me. Once I started reading 'Before We Were Yours' I could not set it down. Fascinating, e I hadn't heard of Lisa Wingate and not really being familiar with historical novels, I did my research. The synopsis states that this novel is "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". I knew of the Orphan Trains, but that little gem escaped me. Once I started reading 'Before We Were Yours' I could not set it down. Fascinating, enthralling, mesmerizing and so very sad at times. Sometimes, I just can't believe some of the things we humans do to each other in the name of greed. I don't cry easily, I can count one hand the number of times a book has brought tears to my eyes. This is one that did. Poignant and powerful story and mind blowing. Very impactful and very well written. Wingate has a true gift for reporting/story telling.I encourage sharing this book, it's beyond compelling.Thanks to Lisa Wingate and Random House for a free Advance Reader's Edition for my review.
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  • Karen
    May 15, 2017
    I received this ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. This fictionalized story is based on the true events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which was organized and run by Georgia Tann in the late 1930’s. Rill Foss and her siblings are taken away from their parents and shoved into the adoption scheme of Tann. This interesting book is well written and kept me wondering how the two story lines of May and Avery would eventually collide. There is much information on line about Tann I received this ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. This fictionalized story is based on the true events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which was organized and run by Georgia Tann in the late 1930’s. Rill Foss and her siblings are taken away from their parents and shoved into the adoption scheme of Tann. This interesting book is well written and kept me wondering how the two story lines of May and Avery would eventually collide. There is much information on line about Tann, because of her the laws around adoption homes were changed.Good book. 4☆
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  • Patty
    May 3, 2017
    Thank to First To Read for an advance copy of this book for an honest review. I absolutely loved this book. I don't read many historical fiction books because they often seem to be more of a history lesson and less of a novel. This is a great novel with the truth of history as its backdrop. What happened at the Tennessee Children's Home is horrific. It is hard to believe a place like this not only existed but thrived.The author does an outstanding job of building the characters of these individu Thank to First To Read for an advance copy of this book for an honest review. I absolutely loved this book. I don't read many historical fiction books because they often seem to be more of a history lesson and less of a novel. This is a great novel with the truth of history as its backdrop. What happened at the Tennessee Children's Home is horrific. It is hard to believe a place like this not only existed but thrived.The author does an outstanding job of building the characters of these individuals from children to adults. It is a story about a family who is taken from their home, 4 girls and one boy and put into the TN Children's Home and sold to the highest bidder. The lady that runs the facility, Georgia Tann doesn't give a flip about any of these children, they are just something for her to profit from, and she doesn't care what the people who buy them do to these children. Some children are lucky and are adopted by wealthy families, other children are very unlucky. The author fortunately doesn't spend a lot of time sharing the horrendous details of some of the children but she does tell that these things did happen. For anyone who has older parents or are older yourself will appreciate the story from the perspective of aging, nursing homes, Alzheimer's, family and secrets being revealed. There is also young Avery who is one of the main characters, she grew up in a wealthy home and knows she has had advantages in life. She is seeking her own truth of what is important in life, as well as figuring the mystery of how her grandmother fits into another older women's life in a different nursing home, where the women notices Avery's bracelet and confiscates it for herself. It is a heart warming story, a story of overcoming obstacles, perseverance and personal growth. Read it!
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  • Melissa
    March 17, 2017
    https://www.rtbookreviews.com/book-re...Wingate's latest novel is based on horrifying true events from the 1930s and 40s. While a bit slow to start, once it gets going the story is alternately shocking and heart-wrenching, yet ultimately redemptive. Some of the events may be difficult for readers to relate to, but when the ending notes are complete everything makes sense. The historical storyline is much more in-depth and meaningful than the modern day story, but both come together for a touchin https://www.rtbookreviews.com/book-re...Wingate's latest novel is based on horrifying true events from the 1930s and 40s. While a bit slow to start, once it gets going the story is alternately shocking and heart-wrenching, yet ultimately redemptive. Some of the events may be difficult for readers to relate to, but when the ending notes are complete everything makes sense. The historical storyline is much more in-depth and meaningful than the modern day story, but both come together for a touching conclusion.Avery Foster has grown up in a life of privilege. Her father is a senator and she is an accomplished attorney. As her father is experiencing some health difficulties, she leaves her job to work alongside him while he goes through treatment. Avery has a chance encounter with a woman in a nursing home, which leads her to speak with her grandmother, who has some memory loss due to dementia. Those remarks allow Avery to uncover something hidden for many years. In 1939, Rill and her siblings live a bohemian lifestyle with their parents on a shanty boat in the river. When their mother is taken to the hospital during a difficult birth, Rill and the others are taken to a children's home with the promises of seeing their parents again. This sets in motion years of danger and cruelty for all of them.
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  • Sarah Yee
    December 24, 2016
    I received an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.I love Lisa Wingate's books, and "Before We Were Yours" is her most captivating yet! She can always be depended on to pen a fascinating story - without any of the tawdry gimmicks that so many authors rely on. This book, which centers around the true story of the illicit adoptions perpetrated by the Tennessee Children's Home Society that took place 1920s-1950, can best be summarized by the words of one of its characters as "heartbre I received an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.I love Lisa Wingate's books, and "Before We Were Yours" is her most captivating yet! She can always be depended on to pen a fascinating story - without any of the tawdry gimmicks that so many authors rely on. This book, which centers around the true story of the illicit adoptions perpetrated by the Tennessee Children's Home Society that took place 1920s-1950, can best be summarized by the words of one of its characters as "heartbreaking yet mesmerizing". The book is told in alternating chapters of past and present, and the end result is a story that is thought-provoking and bittersweet.
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  • Bookclubcheerleader
    January 30, 2017
    Both heartbreaking and soul-affirming! This novel is about family--both those you are born with and those who love you later. And it's a wonderful sister story...Lisa also tells about a shameful period in Tennessee history. If you loved Orphan Train, be prepared to fall in love with Rill and her siblings!
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  • Sharon Metcalf
    May 15, 2017
    4.5 starsBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate was a beautifully told reality based work of fiction.   It was moving and often disturbing, yet from start to finish it captured my interest.    Stories that alternate between the past and the present don't always work well for me but this one certainly did.   Right from the outset I was invested in the fate of the characters in each of the threads and was always eager to return for their next installment. Rill, the 12 yo narrator and her four younge 4.5 starsBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate was a beautifully told reality based work of fiction.   It was moving and often disturbing, yet from start to finish it captured my interest.    Stories that alternate between the past and the present don't always work well for me but this one certainly did.   Right from the outset I was invested in the fate of the characters in each of the threads and was always eager to return for their next installment. Rill, the 12 yo narrator and her four younger siblings lived on a shanty boat on the Mississippi river with their gypsy parents Queenie and Briny.   Theirs was not a fortunate life but they were a happy family until everything changed when all five children were stolen and taken as Wards of the Tennessee Children's Home Society in 1939.     Their experiences are shocking and Rill carries the burden of responsibility for her siblings.  She cannot forgive herself for being unable to protect them, we feel her pain at the losses and separations and her desperate hope they'd be reunited  with their parents. In the present day Avery belongs to the wealthy and esteemed Stafford family.    She's a successful lawyer and is being groomed to fill her Senator fathers shoes.     During a political visit to a nursing home Avery becomes acquainted with Mrs May Crandall an elderly resident of the facility.   Before too long the threads binding the past and present become irresistible to Avery and she chases down the story of how May and her own Grandmothers lives are connected.In the authors note Lisa Wingate details the facts behind Before We Were Yours.   Though Rill and her siblings were fictitious they were solidly based upon the real life experiences of many thousands of children.     I found it utterly disturbing to learn that the Tennessee Children's Home Society was real and the disgraceful way children and their biological families were treated continued until the 1950's.   Miss Hannigan in Little Orphan Annie had nothing on the monsters behind these real life horrors.This was a delightful book and I loved the family themes throughout, especially the strength of love shown between sisters.    If this book is in any way indicative of the quality of Lisa Wingate's previous works it's clear I've been missing out on something very special.Many thanks to the author, Harlequin (Australia) and NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Judy Collins
    May 25, 2017
    WOW!! Move this one to the "top" of your reading list! Review to follow.
  • Carla Stewart
    May 22, 2017
    Powerful and heart-wrenching tale from the pages of history. From the opening prelude, I was hooked on Lisa Wingate’s newest novel. I’m a longtime fan of her sumptuous writing and can honestly say that each book seems better than the last. Knowing Before We Were Yours was based on a real life tragedy that spanned decades made an even greater impact on me as a mom imagining the plight of the Foss children and scores of others. My heart wrenched when they were spirited off to the Tennessee Childre Powerful and heart-wrenching tale from the pages of history. From the opening prelude, I was hooked on Lisa Wingate’s newest novel. I’m a longtime fan of her sumptuous writing and can honestly say that each book seems better than the last. Knowing Before We Were Yours was based on a real life tragedy that spanned decades made an even greater impact on me as a mom imagining the plight of the Foss children and scores of others. My heart wrenched when they were spirited off to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, torn from their humble, but loving life on a riverboat shanty. I held my breath as the story unfolded and revealed the gritty existence of life in the orphanage and the unholy power that one woman had to sever the bonds of siblings and families. Lisa brings the story full circle to a redemptive present-day tale, but the journey is one that brought me to tears and gives new appreciation for the powerful ties of family. Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Five stars!
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  • Linda
    March 3, 2017
    Lisa Wingate is one of my all-time favorite authors. I always wait expectantly for new books and this was no exception. I'm a part of her Sisterhood of the Traveling Books, where we get advanced books to read and pass through our Sister circles, making comments in the margins and leaving notes for Lisa throughout. Today, I was given the chance to read the first two chapters of this book...and it is so good. Lisa's writing draws me in from page one and makes me hunger to the last page. Every time Lisa Wingate is one of my all-time favorite authors. I always wait expectantly for new books and this was no exception. I'm a part of her Sisterhood of the Traveling Books, where we get advanced books to read and pass through our Sister circles, making comments in the margins and leaving notes for Lisa throughout. Today, I was given the chance to read the first two chapters of this book...and it is so good. Lisa's writing draws me in from page one and makes me hunger to the last page. Every time I read a Lisa Wingate book, I'm sad to see it end. I grow so close to her characters, caring about their lives and adventures. These first two chapters exceeded my expectations. It gripped me so tightly that as the preview ended I was left needing to know what happened next!!! I can't wait for my turn in the Sisterhood to find our what happens to these characters.
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  • Marialyce
    May 13, 2017
    5 amazing but heart breaking stars.I have received this novel through the courtesy of NetGallery.A book such as this one is why I love historical fiction. I so admire an author who can weave a story from what is actually an historical fact. And so it is with this novel. Ms Wingate has given us the fictionalized story of the Floss family whose life as "river rats" was beloved by their children as much as the children were beloved by their parents. However, the experiences portrayed in this book a 5 amazing but heart breaking stars.I have received this novel through the courtesy of NetGallery.A book such as this one is why I love historical fiction. I so admire an author who can weave a story from what is actually an historical fact. And so it is with this novel. Ms Wingate has given us the fictionalized story of the Floss family whose life as "river rats" was beloved by their children as much as the children were beloved by their parents. However, the experiences portrayed in this book are actually based on reality. The fact was that in the late thirties up until the early fifties, the Tennessee Children's Home Society which was run by a woman named Georgia Tann (truly evil incarnate) forms the background of what happened to the Floss children. It is a story of loss, of deprivation, of children being stolen from parents and bartered for money by an organization that was not put out of business until the fifties. Many of the children were nothing but chattel. Ms Tamm catered to the wealthy, the Hollywood glitterati, and those in politics. The adoptions brought in numerous amounts of money which of course Ms Tamm pocketed since she had no conscience and no scruples whatsoever. Woven into this story also was the tale of the wealthy, politically savvy Stafford family and it is through the work of Avery Stafford, the daughter of a senator and granddaughter of a woman suffering the effects of Alzheimer's that the story is pieced together. The chapters alternate between Rill's telling and the determination of Avery to find out what it was that drove her grandmother to be secretive. As Avery discovers the truth, the story of the Flosses is peeled away and brought to its conclusion.The way in which so many of these children were treated, how they were sold to families is one so bizarre that the reader might feel that they are reading a horror story. While it might be true that the organization did rescue some orphans, it seems like the bulk of the children were taken from unsuspecting parents who oftentimes signed surrender rights in the thought they they were protecting their children. These poor children not only were separated from their parents, treated abominably through beatings, lack of food, and common decency but also, in so many cases, parted from siblings, as was the case with Rill Floss, one of the main characters of this novel. The records of the adoptions were sealed until 1995 and woefully too many years had passed and many of the adoptees were either dead or missing as there were a number of children in the system who perished mysteriously.For Rill and her siblings the poignant story of trying so valiantly to recover lost sisters and a brother was heart breaking. In the novel, we find out not only what has happened to the Floss family, but also learn that throughout life there are many secrets. Oftentimes the things that one keeps secret are the very things that eventually will set one free. I can not recommend this novel more highly.
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  • Karen
    April 7, 2017
    A well-written story based on tragic real life events, this heart-wrenching novel left me in a book hangover for days. The author takes you to the edge, then puts just enough hope in to keep the reader from despair. A story that needed to be told, with implications for generations. I really liked the present day end of the tale, with the added romance and intertwining of the two main stories. I didn't want to stop reading until I found out what happened to them all. Recommend to readers who lik A well-written story based on tragic real life events, this heart-wrenching novel left me in a book hangover for days. The author takes you to the edge, then puts just enough hope in to keep the reader from despair. A story that needed to be told, with implications for generations. I really liked the present day end of the tale, with the added romance and intertwining of the two main stories. I didn't want to stop reading until I found out what happened to them all. Recommend to readers who like southern fiction with difficult subjects, like poverty, child abuse, human trafficking, political corruption, and alcoholism. 4.5 stars(An e-book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.)
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  • Susan Peterson
    April 10, 2017
    Told with stunning imagery, wonderfully fleshed-out characters, and a story that is spellbinding, heart-wrenching, and uplifting...Before We Were Yours tells the story of families torn apart by a horrible injustice, and how revealing the secrets of that past can somehow reunite them. The story is told from two points of view, generations apart; Rill, a 12-year-old river gypsy, who endures unspeakable heartbreak and horrors; and Avery, a young woman from an established southern family who unwitti Told with stunning imagery, wonderfully fleshed-out characters, and a story that is spellbinding, heart-wrenching, and uplifting...Before We Were Yours tells the story of families torn apart by a horrible injustice, and how revealing the secrets of that past can somehow reunite them. The story is told from two points of view, generations apart; Rill, a 12-year-old river gypsy, who endures unspeakable heartbreak and horrors; and Avery, a young woman from an established southern family who unwittingly unearths family secrets that have been buried for decades. The love leaps off the pages of this book, landing directly in my heart...a stunningly beautiful tale of finding our place in the world, finding the people who will love us, finding where we belong, despite the twisty, perilous, heart-aching journey that takes us home.
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  • Susan Snodgrass
    May 21, 2017
    When I saw the synopsis of this book, I knew right then that I had to read it. Based in part on the infamous Georgia Tann, who brokered children from the 1920s to 1950 under the auspices of the Tennessee Children's Home Society, it is riveting, heart-wrenching and a compelling read. Tann organized, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. Five children are stolen one night in 1939 from their family's shanty boat when their father rushes their pregnant mother to When I saw the synopsis of this book, I knew right then that I had to read it. Based in part on the infamous Georgia Tann, who brokered children from the 1920s to 1950 under the auspices of the Tennessee Children's Home Society, it is riveting, heart-wrenching and a compelling read. Tann organized, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. Five children are stolen one night in 1939 from their family's shanty boat when their father rushes their pregnant mother to the hospital. Told they will be returned as soon as their mother is well, they see hope on the horizon. But they are soon disabused of that notion. The facility's cruel director is in controlling and hateful and they are at her mercy. Completely. Avery Stafford, present day SC, comes home to help her ailing father with his political career and has a totally chance encounter at a nursing home. This encounter will lead her down a path to a discovery that can wreak devastation on her family. Or bring peace. Lisa Wingate has taken a horrific time in our history and weaved a tale that will absolutely break your heart and keep you spellbound until the last word. Told through the first person of 12 year old Rill Foss, Wingate delves deep into Rill's mind and heart very vividly. I was completely entranced with this novel. Unforgettable, thought provoking and captivating, it will also just break your heart as you read what was done to so many innocent children and think on how this must have affected their lives. I highly recommend this novel. It is a must read.*I was given a preview copy of this book by the publisher via Net Galley. I was not asked to leave a positive review. My opinions are honest and my own.
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  • Jana
    April 3, 2017
    Lisa Wingate has possibly written her most intriguing and heart wrenching novel yet! This book will take you through a myriad of emotions and not in the most comfortable of situations. I literally felt the characters' fear, anguish, anger, distrust, heartache, and finally peace. The most difficult thing to accept as I read this is that though its characters are fictional, the cruelties of the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanages did exist, an atrocity beyond belief.
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  • Angela Holland
    March 21, 2017
    When I finished this book last night the first thing I had to say to myself was wow - what a powerful book. I have read all of Lisa's Carolina series and loved each of them and thought they were touching, but this one was even more so. If that is even possible. I had never heard the story of Georgia Tann or the Tennessee Children's Home Society so this was all new to me. From page one I felt horrible for Rill/May and her entire family. I can not even begin to imagine what is must have felt like When I finished this book last night the first thing I had to say to myself was wow - what a powerful book. I have read all of Lisa's Carolina series and loved each of them and thought they were touching, but this one was even more so. If that is even possible. I had never heard the story of Georgia Tann or the Tennessee Children's Home Society so this was all new to me. From page one I felt horrible for Rill/May and her entire family. I can not even begin to imagine what is must have felt like to have total strangers come and take you away never to see your parents again. Nor how the parents felt to find their children had disappeared or even worse to be told they died when in fact they did not. How extremely painful. I liked ho Lisa told both tales of Avery and Rill/May. Avery the granddaughter who was wanted to find out the secret of her grandma's past and how she is connected to May. Then Rill/May's story of survival of a childhood that you cannot imagine. Some of the things he as well as the other kids had to endure was unthinkable. You wonder how they survived such things and were able to overcome some of it. Lisa did a great job in the details of the emotions and the scenes. I felt as if I was right there with Rill/May. I wanted to give her a hug and to help her in whatever way was possible. She is one of the few authors that can write a book that effects me so much. With each page I wanted more of the story, more of the history, even at the end I wanted more. I wanted to sit down and listen to May and Judy talk about their past and here their story told by them. I loved the ending but wish I could have know what actually happened to the other three siblings. This book would also make a great movie. I highly recommend it. It is one of the best books I have read this year.
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  • Chris Unwin
    March 13, 2017
    I was excited to be picked to be apart of Lisa Wingate's Sisterhood of the Traveling Book 2017. I have done this on several occasions and it is a lot of fun. This time the book that we are reading and sharing between "Sisters" is her new book "Before We Were Yours."I am not sure how to write a review on this book. I know I love books that bounce from modern day settings to a historical setting and back to modern day. I know I'm still in a state of shock over a part of twentieth century history I I was excited to be picked to be apart of Lisa Wingate's Sisterhood of the Traveling Book 2017. I have done this on several occasions and it is a lot of fun. This time the book that we are reading and sharing between "Sisters" is her new book "Before We Were Yours."I am not sure how to write a review on this book. I know I love books that bounce from modern day settings to a historical setting and back to modern day. I know I'm still in a state of shock over a part of twentieth century history I knew nothing about, Memphis Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage and its awful director Georgia Tann. There will always be cruelty in the world. History is full of it. Lisa did a great job sharing with us a part that you and I and many others have heard nothing about. I know there are tears on the edge of my eyes. I know I want to weep for the truths that are a part of this fictional story that is so beautifully told by Lisa Wingate. I know it's a departure from some of Lisa's other styles of books. It isn't my favorite book of Lisa's but I sure do love her stories. May this history never repeat itself!
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  • Rachel
    March 20, 2017
    Thank you to Netgalley and the Publishers for an ARC. If I could rate this higher than 5 stars I would. Heartbreaking, emotional, captivating..Before we were yours tells the tale of a family ripped apart at the core in Tennessee, 1939. Georgia Tann ran The Tennessee Children's Home Society from the 1930's-50's. Illegally kidnapping and adopting out children of poor families and placing them in the care of those more fortunate.Rill Foss lives with her parents and four siblings on The Arcadia alon Thank you to Netgalley and the Publishers for an ARC. If I could rate this higher than 5 stars I would. Heartbreaking, emotional, captivating..Before we were yours tells the tale of a family ripped apart at the core in Tennessee, 1939. Georgia Tann ran The Tennessee Children's Home Society from the 1930's-50's. Illegally kidnapping and adopting out children of poor families and placing them in the care of those more fortunate.Rill Foss lives with her parents and four siblings on The Arcadia along the river. Dirt poor but happy, one day the Foss' children's world is turned upside down when they are taken from their boat and placed in an orphanage. Rill does all she can to keep all the children together. The walls inside the orphanage are musty, dank and full of horrible conditions. Told in alternating chapters between the past and present, this story will drag you in and hold tight until it's time for it to end. I was captivated by this book. Historical fiction combined with a little suspense and love are all a perfect combination. Before reading this novel I was not aware of the Tennessee Children's Home Society. Naturally, after reading the Author's note, I jumped on the internet and searched. A wonderful read! Definitely will be recommending!
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  • Danielle
    February 20, 2017
    Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for the ARC for review. I absolutely LOVED "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate and am certain that it will be one of the best titles I read all year. The story is reminiscent of the Orphan Train- which is one of my absolute favorite books. "Yours" is both heartbreaking and uplifting. The story follows 12 year-old Rill Foss and her siblings through their life living on a river shanty to the halls of the notorious Tennessee Children's Home Society where he Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for the ARC for review. I absolutely LOVED "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate and am certain that it will be one of the best titles I read all year. The story is reminiscent of the Orphan Train- which is one of my absolute favorite books. "Yours" is both heartbreaking and uplifting. The story follows 12 year-old Rill Foss and her siblings through their life living on a river shanty to the halls of the notorious Tennessee Children's Home Society where her siblings are "sold" off one by one. Told in alternating chapters through the eyes of Rill and Avery Stafford (a Senator's daughter with a powerful family legacy) finding the two main character's connecting is an engaging and mesmerizing read.
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  • Janette Mcmahon
    February 9, 2017
    The writing is well done, as is the research, in this readable historical fiction novel. Dealing with the theft of children by the Tennessee Children's Home from the 1930's into the 1950's, following one river family. Highly recommend to readers of Orphan Train.
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  • Abigail Sands
    April 10, 2017
    Lisa Wingate's historical novel 'Before We Were Yours' is a book I read hour after hour, unable to put down. The story kept me captivated. I feared the worst, hoped for the best, agonized with Rill & the others, encouraging them to hang on through the difficulties. My tears flowed with the knowledge that the atrocities in the story were based on real occurrences in America's not too distant past. When I closed the book after reading the last page, I could only sit, silently pondering the hi Lisa Wingate's historical novel 'Before We Were Yours' is a book I read hour after hour, unable to put down. The story kept me captivated. I feared the worst, hoped for the best, agonized with Rill & the others, encouraging them to hang on through the difficulties. My tears flowed with the knowledge that the atrocities in the story were based on real occurrences in America's not too distant past. When I closed the book after reading the last page, I could only sit, silently pondering the historical truths, struck with the impact. This author is truly gifted at developing the numerous contrasting components of an intricate story and the complexities of multiple characters. She is also impressively adept at leading her characters through their painful experiences towards hope, recovery and redemption. Lisa Wingate's writing gift, skills and talent appear to grow exponentially through each new story she creates. This was another phenomenal example. I received a free Advance Reader's Edition for my review.
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  • Melissa
    March 19, 2017
    I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for the free advanced reading copy. It is Memphis 1939. Twelve year old Rill Floss is living on shanty boat on the Mississippi River with parents and five siblings. During a bad thunderstorm, the midwife is on the boat to help her mom deliver the new baby. The midwife tells the father the she is giving birth to twins, there is a complication, they must rush her to the hospital, or all of their lives are in danger. Rill is the oldest and is put in I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for the free advanced reading copy. It is Memphis 1939. Twelve year old Rill Floss is living on shanty boat on the Mississippi River with parents and five siblings. During a bad thunderstorm, the midwife is on the boat to help her mom deliver the new baby. The midwife tells the father the she is giving birth to twins, there is a complication, they must rush her to the hospital, or all of their lives are in danger. Rill is the oldest and is put in charge. A couple of men arrive the next morning and tell the children they are bringing them to the hospital to see their parents. Instead of being brought to their parents, the Floss children are brought to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage that is run by Georgia Tann. Rill soon realizes they are going to be sold one by one and tries to do anything to keep her siblings together and return to their parents. Avery Stafford is a young attorney and daughter of a powerful senator. She is engaged to be married. Avery has returned home after her dad has been diagnosed with cancer and her grandmother with dementia. While visiting a nursing home, Avery meets an older lady named May Crandall. She calls Avery another name and for some reason Avery is drawn to her and decides to visit. In May’s room, she finds a picture of a couple on a riverboat. The lady in it looks very similar to her grandmother. She decides to dig deeper into her grandmother’s past and meets a young man named Trent Turner that she soon begins to find herself attracted to. The more she discovers, the more she finds out about her grandmother’s hidden childhood which could cause a scandal for the family. Before We Were Yours is a new historical fiction book by Lisa Wingate. From the 1930’s to 1950’s, Georgia Tann stole thousands of children and sold them to wealthy families across the country. The children were either kidnapped or the parents were tricked to giving them up to Georgia. She then lied about their backgrounds to find new homes for the children. Most of the time the records were destroyed after the adoption was complete. In the 1950’s, the home was shut down and Tennessee Adoption Laws were changed. Before We Were Yours is a fast paced book. I read it in two days. I could believe that Georgia Tann could do something like this for so many years and not get caught. My heart goes out to all the poor families who had children taken from them. It seems like something like this would have made the news. After reading the book, I googled the home and Georgia for more information. In the early 80’s, Mare Winningham starred in a TV movie about a mother whose three children are taken. I remember watching it in high school. This is a book that the characters will stay with you after reading. I would highly recommend reading the book when it comes out on June 6th. Five stars…
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  • Danielle Woods
    April 2, 2017
    I received this arc as part of Lisa Wingate's sisterhood of the traveling book circle 3.What an amazing story! I had no idea about Georgia Tank or the orphanage. All those lies and secrets! It was heartbreaking to learn about what the children endured while living in her care. It amazes me that it could go on for so long and be so profitable. What a terrible way to make something that should be so good, so bad. Two of my favorite quotes from the book. "Your past does not predict your future." an I received this arc as part of Lisa Wingate's sisterhood of the traveling book circle 3.What an amazing story! I had no idea about Georgia Tank or the orphanage. All those lies and secrets! It was heartbreaking to learn about what the children endured while living in her care. It amazes me that it could go on for so long and be so profitable. What a terrible way to make something that should be so good, so bad. Two of my favorite quotes from the book. "Your past does not predict your future." and " The truth is still the truth. It has value."
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  • Cheryl Wood
    March 16, 2017
    I was blessed to be a part of the Sisterhood Of The Traveling Book. The book was about a well known child-trafficker, Georgia Tann who kidnapped children of wayward mothers and then sold them to wealthy families. The story goes back and forth from past to present. The story follows 12 year-old Rill Foss and her siblings through their life living on a river shanty to the halls of the Tennessee Children's Home Society where her siblings are "sold" off one by one. I was drawn into the book from pag I was blessed to be a part of the Sisterhood Of The Traveling Book. The book was about a well known child-trafficker, Georgia Tann who kidnapped children of wayward mothers and then sold them to wealthy families. The story goes back and forth from past to present. The story follows 12 year-old Rill Foss and her siblings through their life living on a river shanty to the halls of the Tennessee Children's Home Society where her siblings are "sold" off one by one. I was drawn into the book from page one and felt like I was part of the Foss family, felt the water slapping against their shanty boat, heard the birds, felt the breeze. “Life is not unlike cinema. Each scene has its own music, and the music is created for the scene, woven to it in ways we do not understand. 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.” -Rill FossWe have no control of each day, love those that are close to you, love those that may not be family. if you have a sister, you will understand the depth of the relationship each has to one another. The author has a unique gift of writing and pulling the reader in from the beginning. Make sure you have tissues, carve out time to read "Before We Were Yours." At times heartbreaking, but yet uplifiting. The bonds of family run deep. You will fall in love with Rill and her siblings. You will feel the pain of being separated from family.Lisa Wingate has become my all time favorite author. I am humbled to have the opportunity to review the book and hoping that their is a follow up to this book.
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  • Patsye
    March 21, 2017
    Another fabulous book from Lisa Wingate, but this one takes a different turn. Lisa has taken actual events, the adoption scandal of The Tennessee Children's Home Society that was exposed in 1950, and has woven an engrossing account of lives changed. It is told in two different voices in two different times, but unlike some books that doesn't prove a distraction. It is very easy to keep it all straight, and it adds to the suspense by taking you up to a point and then pulling you back to a differe Another fabulous book from Lisa Wingate, but this one takes a different turn. Lisa has taken actual events, the adoption scandal of The Tennessee Children's Home Society that was exposed in 1950, and has woven an engrossing account of lives changed. It is told in two different voices in two different times, but unlike some books that doesn't prove a distraction. It is very easy to keep it all straight, and it adds to the suspense by taking you up to a point and then pulling you back to a different aspect of the story. The characters are well developed, and you are allowed to peel back the layers slowly to get the big picture. As Rill's story unfolds, you are held spellbound by the unrelenting sadness of her situation, and horrified by the fact that these things really happened to some children. Wingate has a gift for imagery that pulls you into a scene. But in true Lisa Wingate fashion, there are also plenty of happier moments to relieve the sadness and many truths uncovered. Avery's story gives some interesting insights into how political families live their lives on display. She wasn't the most sympathetic character in the beginning, but she did grow on me as she learned to be more aware of her own aspirations and feelings. A well-crafted new effort from Wingate, it is one of those books you can't put down and you don't want to end!
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