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.
They probably all die in the end
I’ve seen this book around a lot – I should really give it a go
If you do, let me know what you think!
This sounds like the direction I want my own writing to go in. Adding this title to my TBR list based on your stellar review.
I hope you will let me know what you think of it!