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Before We Were Yours

June 2017

Lisa Wingate’s BEFORE WE WERE YOURS is historical fiction based on a real-life scandal. Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. Lisa tells their story writing parallel tales --- one set in 1939 and one in the present day.

In Memphis in 1939, Rill Foss and her family are living on a Mississippi River shantyboat. To them, this home is filled with love and joy. They do not know that they are living lives in abject poverty; they know the love of family. One night their father races to get their mother to a hospital, leaving Rill in charge of her four younger siblings. She’s holding it together until strangers arrive to take the children away from the world they know, noting that this is for their own good.

At first they think they will be returned home once their mother is better and their father comes to get them. But as the days go on, they instead come to realize that they are now captives in the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, with no hope of returning to the home they know and love. Rill works to keep her family together until her dream is ripped apart.

In the modern-day story, Avery Stafford lives in South Carolina where she has grown up in a privileged world. Her family seems to have a golden life with wealth and power. But this world unravels for Avery after a chance encounter at a nursing home gets her to start questioning her own family roots. There clearly are secrets that are being hidden, and as she unravels them, she learns a whole other side of what really matters --- family and deep-rooted love.

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS is being compared to ORPHAN TRAIN, and I can see why. Once again it’s a chance to take a look at a group of children who were plucked from their lives and families by a system that they were told would save them. Book groups, take note.

Before We Were Yours
by Lisa Wingate

  • Publication Date: June 6, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0425284689
  • ISBN-13: 9780425284681