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Before We Were Yours: A Novel
I just finished reading Lisa Wingate’s best-selling novel Before We Were Yours, and couldn’t wait to tell you about it. This novel of truth is stranger than fiction grabbed me by the heart and never let me go. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I searched for more information online about the real story behind the fiction.
Twelve-year-old Rill lives with her three younger sisters and two-year-old brother in a shack on the Mississippi River with her mother and father, affectionately known to all children as Queenie and Briny. They don’t have much, but they all love each other very much, and the river supports them, even during the depths of the Depression. When Queenie goes into labor for her twins too soon and Briny has to take her on the johnboat across the river to Memphis to a hospital, Rill is left in charge of her brothers. Everything is fine until the police and other strangers arrive where they are tied to the shore and take all the children to one of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanages. Amid abuse and mistreatment, Rill tries to protect her younger siblings and keep her family together.
Today, a young attorney named Avery Stafford has returned to her family’s home in South Carolina. Her father, a powerful senator, is fighting cancer, although that fact is being hidden from the public. Avery is there to help care for her father and also to prepare herself to possibly take over her role if need be, to keep her family’s political dynasty alive. While there, Avery accidentally meets someone who makes her start wondering if her family might have some secrets in store for a long time. Concerned that there may be a hidden scandal that could harm the Staffords, she begins to investigate, without guessing where her investigations will lead.
In the opening chapters of this novel, as I read about Rill and her brothers being illegally separated from their parents and putting them up for adoption, I thought, “This is too horrible, it’s not realistic.” So imagine my surprise when I discovered that part of the novel was actually based on the real life story of Georgia Tann, director of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, who stole children from poor families and sold them for scandalous sums to wealthy parents desperate for children from 1920 to 1940. That makes this novel all the more exciting and surprising. The story brings Rill’s story together little by little, with action moving from past to present, weaving disparate threads until they finally come together.
Almost everyone in our book group enjoyed this novel, and we had a good discussion about it last night, much of which focused on the real-life story behind the novel. Although you have the essence of the story from the beginning (after all, it is based on the true story), most of the characters in the novel are fictional, and some of the connections between past and present are only revealed to Him. end of the book. Most of us are captivated by the story and the characters. Overall, our group rated the novel 7.6 out of 10 (which is high for us) and several people (including me) rated it 9. This gripping and moving story about a little-known historical horror kept me glued to the book, until I finished it in record time.
- Name: Before We Were Yours
- Writer: Lisa Wingate
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (May 21, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425284700
- ISBN-13: 978-0425284704
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146
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