Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

A Novel

eBook - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale. Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical 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. At the mercy of the facility's cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty. Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiance, 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--Lisa Wingate's riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong"--
"Memphis, Tennessee, 1936. The five Foss children find their lives changed forever when their parents leave them alone on the family shantyboat one stormy night. Rill Foss, just twelve years old, must protect her four younger siblings as they are wrenched from their home on the Mississippi and thrown into the care of the infamous Georgia Tann, director of the Tennessee Children's Home Society. South Carolina, Present Day. Avery Stafford has lived a charmed life. Loving daughter to her father, a U.S. Senator, she has a promising career as an assistant D.A. in Baltimore and is engaged to her best friend. But when Avery comes home to help her father weather a health crisis and a political attack, a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her deeply shaken. Avery's decision to learn more about the woman's life will take her on a journey through her family's long-hidden history"--
Publisher: New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2017]
ISBN: 9780425284698
Branch Call Number: Online eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file, rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

Related Resources


From Library Staff

Voted Best Historical Fiction

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Mar 01, 2018

I like when a book can teach you something about history while also telling you a good story. This will be a great read for people who love family stories that dip into the past and uncover secrets.

Feb 06, 2018

Plot written from two points of view....that of Rill later named May by her adoptive parents
and Avery the daughter of a Senator whose grandmother is now in a nursing home...utterly
heartbreaking....the novel is slow to start but does pick up.....

Jan 31, 2018

I couldn't get into at after the first two chapters, hard to follow, very disappointed.

Jan 13, 2018

A captivating story. A definite page-turner!

archreads Jan 09, 2018

This historical fiction account of the Tennessee Children's Home is well written and really interesting.

Dec 07, 2017

Great fictional account of criminal adoption crimes in Tennessee from '39-50's. If not for a couple dips into chick-lit style writing, this would be a 5 star book instead of 4 1/2 for me. Some of the prose are lyrical and the narration from the oldest of the kidnapped daughters is relateable and puts you in the action.

Nov 27, 2017

Historical fiction that takes readers into the world of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and the notorious adoption market run there in the 1930s. Readers are taken back and forth from that time and place to present day South Carolina through the lives of Rill/May and Avery who connect through a misplaced bracelet. Interesting history, but story way, way, too predictable for me.

Nov 20, 2017

This was a good book! Everything about it was so well written; the characters were all visible through the author's words. I definitely recommend it!

Nov 16, 2017

Extremely well written and a very good story.

Oct 28, 2017

This is an easy read based on true events surrounding stolen children in the 1930s. Interestingly, the young protagonist, Rill, is the best drawn character in the book. It made me want to know more about the real events on which the story is based. Highly recommended.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Jan 20, 2018

Mya614 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Sep 26, 2017

BRUCE PILCHER thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Quote

AL_MARYA Jun 13, 2017

I clench my teeth so hard the pain travels all the way to the top of my head. I'm glad for it - it's just a little ache and I know where it comes from. I can stop it anytime I want. The one in my heart is way bigger. I can't fix it no matter how hard I try. It scares me so much that I can't even breathe.

"…the love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat; it is as ever present as a pulse.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings


Find it at WPPL

To Top