Friday, 12 January 2018

Book Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Book: Before We Were Yours

Author: Lisa Wingate 

Pages: 400

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 5 hours (across 2 days)

Plot Summary: 

Memphis, Tennessee, 1939

Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a charmed but humble life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge, until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents. But they quickly realize the dark truth...

Aiken, South Carolina, present day

Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.
Based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals, in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country, Before We Were Yours is a riveting, wrenching and ultimately uplifting tale. 

Things I Liked: 
  • The premise is so interesting. This is a book inspired by true and truly horrific events! So, I was curious to read this story as well as learn about the real cases which inspired this book. 
  • I love historical fiction! That's no secret to long-time readers of this blog! So, this book was no exception. The narrative shifts from Rill's story in 1939 Memphis to Avery's journey to unearth the truth about her family's past in present-day South Carolina. 
  • Needless to say, I enjoyed reading Rill's story so much. Her family were "river gypsies"- people who lived in boat houses on the Mississippi river- and were looked down by conventional society. However, her parents, though young and poor, seemed to be doing their best to educate their kids and give them as good a life as possible. This is where what Georgia Tann did was so wrong- snatching kids away from poor families and selling them to rich ones is nearly not as black and white as some may think. Not all poor kids are raised in a love-less abusive environment and not all rich kids are happy. So, taking children away from loving, but poor homes, is just appalling and it is sad for how many years this evil woman continued to do just that! 
  • The characters are nicely drawn out and very likeable. Rill is a wonderful, gutsy young girl, who does whatever she can to save herself and her siblings from the horrible abusive environment of the orphanage. Her guilt and sadness are so relatable. I also liked Avery. She is determined to get to the bottom of this terrible secret in her family and for doing the right thing, even it could, potentially, hurt her father's political future. 
  • The book is very fast-paced and we're not left wondering for too long what became of the Foss siblings and what is the connection between Rill and Avery's families. I loved how the journey of the Foss kids was so bittersweet! So, while this book totally breaks your heart, it also gives you moments of sheer relief and joy. 
Rating: 5/5 
This is a fantastic book! A total must-read! 

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