So many rave reviews led me to pick up this incredible historical fiction novel by Lisa Wingate and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Before We Were Yours, inspired by truth, is the fictional story of Rill Foss, a 12 year old river gypsy. In 1939 Tennessee, children were being stolen right out from under parents’ noses and then sold to upper class families looking to adopt. The Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage, headed up by the cruel Georgia Tann, was a front for this unthinkable thievery that destroyed existing families and inflicted physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Rill was left in charge of her four younger siblings when their parents went to the hospital one rainy night. Strangers barged in and they were snatched up and brought to the orphanage. They were told they would see their parents very soon, but that was not to happen. The children were tortured, abused, separated and then illegally sold off.
In South Carolina, present day, Avery Stafford, a federal prosecutor, comes home to take care of her ailing father. She is well off, engaged to be married and seems to have it all. She discovers that her grandmother was keeping a secret about her past; and so she begins to dig for clues which lead to her true and shocking family history.
The two time periods follow fictional characters, revealing this tragedy in history. Lisa Wingate, through research, has shared with us stories similar to those of the actual stolen children and their families. The upheaval of so many lives was caused by the real Georgia Tann and the people at the Tennessee orphanage back in the early to mid 1900s. Thousands of children were torn away from their parents, had their names changed and sold off, never to be connected to their birth parents again. By learning about the past and sharing these stories, we remember those that were lost, separated and suffered, and they live on through the retelling today. I loved this book so much and highly recommend it.
About the Author:
Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than thirty books. Her blockbuster “Before We Were Yours” was on the NYT best seller list for over one year. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Lisa believes stories can change the world.
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