Book Review: Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate

This is a novel of family. 

Rill Foss is a 12 year old girl in 1939, living on a shanty boat near Memphis, Tennessee when her parents have to go to the hospital with a difficult delivery of twins.  Soon, the authorities show up to take Rill and her four siblings to an orphanage with allegations that they are not being properly cared for.  She has no idea the fate that awaits them.

In present day, Avery Stafford has lived a privileged life.  Her father is a Senator who has cancer, and she has come home from her up-and-coming career as a lawyer to help her father with his campaign and work.  While there, she meets a woman in a nursing home who insists that Avery’s bracelet, a unique family heirloom, is her own.  Avery begins to dig into this woman, who claims to know her grandmother, but she has no idea what her investigation will reveal.

Wingate draws on the true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and Georgia Tann, a woman whose deceit and criminal dealings separated thousands of children from their families between 1924 and when the home was finally closed in 1950. If you don’t know the story of this infamous woman and the orphanage she ran for almost 30 years, it is a fascinating and heartbreaking story.

The novel weaves the story of the past and the present, leaving the reader trying to piece together the relationships between the characters.  Are things really as they seem?  I was both intrigued and heartbroken at what happened to Rill, her siblings and her parents after they were ripped apart.  And trying to process the unimaginable decisions these women made as adults, to try to maintain their ties to family after the trauma they endured.

A sad, but beautiful novel.

5 stars.



6 thoughts on “Book Review: Before We Were Yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.