web site hit counter Before We Were Yours - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Before We Were Yours

Availability: Ready to download

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, 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 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—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.


Compare

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, 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 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—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.

30 review for Before We Were Yours

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    But 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. I still maintain that The Heart's Invisible Furies and Pachinko were more deserving of the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction, but I can definitely see why Before We Were Yours has had such an emotional impact on readers. Comparisons to Orphan Train make a lot of sense. The pacing and structure of both stories are similar, a But 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. I still maintain that The Heart's Invisible Furies and Pachinko were more deserving of the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction, but I can definitely see why Before We Were Yours has had such an emotional impact on readers. Comparisons to Orphan Train make a lot of sense. The pacing and structure of both stories are similar, and they both use the alternating older/younger narrator format to link the present day with the past (a favoured technique by many historical fiction writers, which is also used in The Thirteenth Tale, The Alice Network, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane). But, most of all, Before We Were Yours stands out for doing one of my absolute favourite things in historical fiction: exposing a largely unknown and horrific pocket of history. Alternating between the perspectives of privileged and successful Avery Stafford in the present, and twelve-year-old Rill Floss in depression-era Memphis, a story emerges linking Avery's grandmother to Rill and her four siblings, who were stolen from their riverboat home and their two loving parents. Through the dual narrative and Avery's digging into the past, a tale of unimaginable horrors is uncovered. Obviously, some people will have heard of Georgia Tann and the mass kidnapping and trafficking of Tennessee children, but I hadn't and I would bet a lot of others haven't either. In this book, we see how Tann led a team in capturing children from poor families and selling them to the wealthy. The children were first taken to a kind of halfway house where they were starved, beaten and even molested. Fictional details have been added but, in the end, it is so especially horrific because most of it is true. If I was to complain about anything, it would be the way the characters frequently have whole conversations without specific names, just to keep the reader guessing who is who, even when it doesn't make sense for them to withhold the person's name. This is a minor quibble, though, and I do understand the necessity for it. Overall, I really "enjoyed" the book. Rill and her sisters feel real. Their fear feels real. Their love for one another feels real. It is a history lesson wrapped up in a powerful and emotive story. A fictional tale that reveals a hidden truth. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Masterson

    I absolutely loved this heartbreakingly beautiful piece of writing! I'd give this book 10 stars if I could! "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate grabbed me from the very beginning, tossed my emotions around like a salad, and never let go! I didn't want it to end. I listened to the audio version! Both narrators deserve huge props for their performances! I actually think this novel was enhanced by the superb narration! There are two storylines going on in this novel, one in 1939 and one is prese I absolutely loved this heartbreakingly beautiful piece of writing! I'd give this book 10 stars if I could! "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate grabbed me from the very beginning, tossed my emotions around like a salad, and never let go! I didn't want it to end. I listened to the audio version! Both narrators deserve huge props for their performances! I actually think this novel was enhanced by the superb narration! There are two storylines going on in this novel, one in 1939 and one is present day. They slowly unravel and come together. I thought the writing was wonderful and so were the characters in both storylines. As gut wrenching as this novel is I feel it is an important story that must be read! There is a bit of chick lit to the part of this story taking place in modern day. I actually enjoyed the bit of romance in it, but I know some diehard historically fiction fans might not. People are comparing this to "The Orphan Train". In my humble opinion it's a much better book. Highly recommended!!!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    UPDATE: $2.99 Kindle US 11/3/20 My book won the GR 2017 award. Yay! Wow! This book was really sad and had a happy ending at least. I had no idea this was a place and it breaks my heart 😢 This is written in the front of the book: For the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didn't. May your stories not be forgotten. For those who help today's orphans find forever homes. May you always know the value of your work and your love. This book is about the Foss children. They are fictional in the UPDATE: $2.99 Kindle US 11/3/20 My book won the GR 2017 award. Yay! Wow! This book was really sad and had a happy ending at least. I had no idea this was a place and it breaks my heart 😢 This is written in the front of the book: For the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didn't. May your stories not be forgotten. For those who help today's orphans find forever homes. May you always know the value of your work and your love. This book is about the Foss children. They are fictional in the book but taken from real life stories. The stories of this horrible woman, Georgia Tann, who had children stolen from poor families and sold to rich families. Those that actually survived living at the Tennessee Children's Home Society. These kids were malnourished, raped. Jesus, I can't go on with all of the travisties. You can google and find out tons of information Here is a photo of the evil woman. Here is a picture of a memorial to the hundreds of children who died. There are a lot of photos if you google. That's all I have people. I just can't. I'm crying too much to write anything else. Recommend to everyone. Mel

  4. 5 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    Rating 3.5 OK, so I'm going to be the party pooper on this one.......I liked this one, but didn't love it. There were things I really liked about it and other things that drug it down a bit for me (hence, a 3.5 rating). So I'll try to list a few here. First, the story. I think just about everyone knows this story. I'm sure I'm the last to read and review. A historical fiction read that has headlines plucked from the real world. Two dual stories told in alternating times between Memphis, Tennessee Rating 3.5 OK, so I'm going to be the party pooper on this one.......I liked this one, but didn't love it. There were things I really liked about it and other things that drug it down a bit for me (hence, a 3.5 rating). So I'll try to list a few here. First, the story. I think just about everyone knows this story. I'm sure I'm the last to read and review. A historical fiction read that has headlines plucked from the real world. Two dual stories told in alternating times between Memphis, Tennessee 1939 and present day Aiken, South Carolina. The true story portion was the horrible things that happened for over 30 years in the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage. The woman running it had some connections - judges, politicians, police, those with money...who LET her get away with basically stealing children from their parents. Their parents were poor, or less educated, or just made her mad. She then 'sold' these children to unsuspecting potential parents...and probably some suspecting too. It's utterly horrible to learn of this part of our history. The two stories are told from the point of view of a family of children ripped from their parents and put through the system and a woman, a bit lost, trying to figure out what her family is hiding after an elderly woman mistakes her for someone else. What I liked: *The story from the point of view of Rill - OMG, so heartbreaking. I spent so much time reading up on real articles about this time and the horrible, evil witch who ran the orphanage. *I love historical fiction and always love to read where a small piece of history is used and a bigger story is weaved around this topic *The audio - the narrators were fabulous! Especially the narrator for Rill. (which helped the rating) What I disliked: *As indicated, I do love a story weaved around a part of history. But what I don't like is when an author just piles on more and more dread and horrible things to happen. It just becomes too much and after awhile, I think the story gets a bit ridiculous (yup, The Nightengale did the same thing) *Avery's story line. Initially, I had a hard time getting into her story. Eventually I warmed to her a bit, but the love-story portion was not needed. *Too long - so much un-needed commentary could have been removed. Most of this came in Avery's story line. For example, way too much detail on the cab, riding in the cab, etc. After sometime, I just wanted it over. *The very ending seemed rushed. Even though I thought it was a long read (needed editing), it just seemed so fast so many things were wrapped up too quickly with a bow. *Perhaps it's just me, but it bugged me a bit how none of the children even tried to speak up. I understand how horrible it was, but children usually speak their mind. Even when you don't want them to. At least once speak their mind before they realize the trouble they might get in. Then, as adults, they wanted to hide the fact they were sisters. Overall, I'm glad I read this. I learned a lot about this part of history. But I can't help but wonder, since this was the big NG Historical Fiction book of the year 2017, did I go in with the highest expectations that could not be met? I tried to separate that, but who knows....I didn't think this was the best of 2017. But everyone voted for their own favorite reads.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    4.5 stars! What a heart-wrenching, powerful and emotional read! I’ll start by explaining that ever since I laid eyes on this cover a few months ago, I haven’t stopped thinking of this book. There is just something about this cover that calls to me and makes me want to reach into the picture to hug and comfort these two little girls. I have never had a book cover ‘speak’ to me as powerfully as this one does. With that being said, I was so happy that the actual story lived up to my hopes from the c 4.5 stars! What a heart-wrenching, powerful and emotional read! I’ll start by explaining that ever since I laid eyes on this cover a few months ago, I haven’t stopped thinking of this book. There is just something about this cover that calls to me and makes me want to reach into the picture to hug and comfort these two little girls. I have never had a book cover ‘speak’ to me as powerfully as this one does. With that being said, I was so happy that the actual story lived up to my hopes from the cover. It was an emotional, shocking and devastating story that I simply cannot stop thinking about. This fictional novel was based on true events surrounding Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage which was an organization involved with the kidnapping of children and their illegal adoptions. Tann made millions from her black-market baby adoption scheme from the 1920’s to 1950. I had not heard of this sickening piece of history until I read this and I have been googling and researching it since I finished this book. I have a hard time accepting this actually happened – it is so shocking and upsetting. This novel follows the lives of the five Foss siblings who grow up living on a Mississippi River shantyboat with their parents in 1939. They have a unique and wild childhood with parents who shower them with love and affection in unconventional ways. One of the children, Twelve-year-old Rill Foss, grows up taking care of her younger siblings, often fulfilling parental roles. Rill is one of the narrators of the book and she is a character I will not soon forget - I absolutely adored her! The present day story wasn't as interesting and slightly took away from my overall enjoyment. However, Rill's story more than makes up for it. I highly recommend this wonderfully written and well researched book! This will definitely stay on my mind for a long time. I will end with one of the several quotes that stood out for me. “I learned that you need not be born into a family to be loved by one.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Oh. My. Goodness. What a great read..... If you're ready for a story you can really sink your teeth into with characters that virtually come to life, here you go. "Adoption matron may have been most prolific serial killer." BEFORE WE WERE YOURS takes the reader on a heartbreaking, but mesmerizing journey depicting shocking truths about the real life Tennessee Children's Home Society that was active from the 1920's thru 1950.....an organization that basically schemed, lied, kidnapped and broker Oh. My. Goodness. What a great read..... If you're ready for a story you can really sink your teeth into with characters that virtually come to life, here you go. "Adoption matron may have been most prolific serial killer." BEFORE WE WERE YOURS takes the reader on a heartbreaking, but mesmerizing journey depicting shocking truths about the real life Tennessee Children's Home Society that was active from the 1920's thru 1950.....an organization that basically schemed, lied, kidnapped and brokered children for profit.....while neglecting, molesting, and horrifically abusing those in their "so called" care even to the point of death.But all is not doom and gloom......We have two stories that unfold here; while one family is literally being ripped apart, a member of another family discovers truths about herself and an unbelievable family secret....while finding true love.Interesting and important work of historical fiction. Need to check out more from Lisa Wingate!Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a 2017 Ballantine Books publication. This is an amazing, heart wrenching story centered around the true events involving the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. When Avery Stafford, the daughter of a prominent Senator stumbles upon the possibility her grandmother is harboring a dark family secret, she nearly becomes obsessed with her mission to uncover the truth. The story flashes back to 1939, when Rill Foss and her siblings are snatched from their poor Mi Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a 2017 Ballantine Books publication. This is an amazing, heart wrenching story centered around the true events involving the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. When Avery Stafford, the daughter of a prominent Senator stumbles upon the possibility her grandmother is harboring a dark family secret, she nearly becomes obsessed with her mission to uncover the truth. The story flashes back to 1939, when Rill Foss and her siblings are snatched from their poor Mississippi Shanty boat, after their parents had to leave them behind in an emergency medical situation. They are taken to a children’s home, but before they were 'adopted' out, they endured cruel conditions and abuse. The narrative switches back and forth between Rill and Avery, but I must confess my heart was with Rill from start to finish. This novel pulls on the heartstrings, stirs outrage and horror, but at the end of the day the story was about familial bonds, and a spiritual connection that can not be broken, no matter what. Wingate did a magnificent job of pulling the reader back in time, creating a realistic atmosphere, and building a fictional story around one of the most shocking black-market adoption operations in American history. But, the real magic is creating characters we care for, cheer for, and want to champion. It may have taken a lifetime, but the truth has a way of freeing itself, exposing crimes and scandal, but it also brought out an incredible family saga that is both inspirational and heartwarming. Avery is a central character, but she can’t compete with Rill, so the author wisely fattens up her part of the story with a little romance, which kept her character from simply becoming a means to an end. I did enjoy how the mystery unfolded, which made Avery into a bit of an amateur sleuth. I loved the conclusion of the story, which was about a perfect as could be expected under the circumstances. It is all very bittersweet, with a lot of sadness, but there were blessed times, as well, and those are the reflections and moments that will stay with me. There are some difficult passages in this novel, which you should be prepared for, but this is such a great story! Everyone kept telling me I needed to read this book and they were right- so I feel I should pass that advice on to you- Read this book!! You’ll be glad you did! *For those who are unfamiliar with Georgia Tann, a Google search will give you a clear picture of her dirty deeds and how she was eventually exposed, although it was too little, too late. Shockingly, the children’s home was used by famous actresses Joan Crawford and June Allyson which is a little bit of trivia I was totally unaware of before reading the author’s notes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    'Before We Were Yours' is a highly emotional and moving fictional story, inspired by true events. Through the telling of this story, Lisa Wingate sheds light on the despicable real life actions of Georgia Tann, a woman that ran a black market child trafficking ring masked as a legitimate adoption agency for decades in Tennessee. She catered to the rich and famous, providing largely blond-haired and light-eyed children to those that could afford to pay her outrageous price. She made millions off 'Before We Were Yours' is a highly emotional and moving fictional story, inspired by true events. Through the telling of this story, Lisa Wingate sheds light on the despicable real life actions of Georgia Tann, a woman that ran a black market child trafficking ring masked as a legitimate adoption agency for decades in Tennessee. She catered to the rich and famous, providing largely blond-haired and light-eyed children to those that could afford to pay her outrageous price. She made millions off of the sale of children, who were often kidnapped. This book spans generations, alternating between present-day and the past. The "past" story is narrated by the oldest Foss sibling, Rill (aka May). Avery Stafford, a former federal prosecutor and the daughter of a prominent Senator, tells the present-day story. Gradually, the two storylines intersect and the connection comes to light. The fictional story of the five Foss children parallels the real life experiences of hundreds of victims of Georgia Tann's illegal adoption agency, the Tennessee Children's Home Society. The children are stolen from their family's riverboat one night in 1939. Their parents have to go to the hospital due to complications with their mother's pregnancy and childbirth. Left alone, the children are taken by corrupt police officers working for the notorious child trafficker. Immediately, the children are thrust into a grim situation. They experience abuse and cruelty at the hands of the people running the "orphanage". Tragedy and loss become all that they know as they are stripped of their former identities. Separated, renamed and adopted out, their lives are forever changed. Avery Stafford first meets May when she is visiting a nursing home to support her father's political campaign. There is something about the elderly lady that calls to her. Later, when she is contacted by the nursing home administrator to say that May took her bracelet, she goes against the administrator's instructions and decides to visit with the lady personally. Their first meeting sets a series of events in motion. Avery begins digging into the past. She is determined to uncover the connection between her grandmother, who suffers from dementia, and the mysterious woman that she met at the nursing home. In her brief moments of lucidity, her grandmother's appears to light up with recognition when she mentions May. However, she is less than forthcoming. Avery is left to follow the cryptic clues if she wants to unearth her grandmother's secrets, knowing it may be the downfall of her highly public family. This is the type of story that raises awareness and will leave you feeling outraged. It was emotional, inspiring and heartfelt. I was completely lost in the plight of the Foss children, while I was heartbroken by the absolute injustice of it all. Ms. Wingate did a beautiful job of merging fact and fiction. The writing was flawless and the story was well-crafted. My heart went out to the Foss children, as I lost myself in their story. Like so many others, I was completely unaware of the existence of this illegal adoption agency and the wide-spread corruption that allowed these child traffickers to prosper for so many years. This book prompted me to educate myself on the topic and I was appalled by what I found. This was a tragic, and often depressing, story. However, I am so glad that I read it. It is an important story and one that needed to be told. It definitely isn't a rainbows and unicorns type of story, but it will move you and leave a lasting impression. Check out more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    While this novel is based on historical events and real persons who existed in Tennessee in the first half of the 20th century, preying on poor families and their children, I found that I had great difficulty relating to it, primarily because of the contemporary story and the primary protagonist. My thoughts vary on this book. Some aspects are well done and the expose of the decades-long adoption ring in Memphis is both interesting and abhorrent. But the total presentation still bothers me, part While this novel is based on historical events and real persons who existed in Tennessee in the first half of the 20th century, preying on poor families and their children, I found that I had great difficulty relating to it, primarily because of the contemporary story and the primary protagonist. My thoughts vary on this book. Some aspects are well done and the expose of the decades-long adoption ring in Memphis is both interesting and abhorrent. But the total presentation still bothers me, particularly the "heroine" of the contemporary story, who might have stepped out of a romance novel. I wonder how this could have been done differently. Avery seems the Southern society "girl" made good, who has succeeded brilliantly but is still being hounded by the somewhat stereotypical women around her to marry ASAP in order to fulfill her role in life. There is so much talk of beautifully groomed people and lawns and flower beds in the contemporary story, that I grew tired of reading it. And romance is fine, but must it be such a large component of what should be such a serious historical novel. Or perhaps that's the novel I wish it to be, not what it is. I am glad to have learned of this history and to have had the opportunity to learn of it through historical fiction, which I find a valuable medium. I only wish the contemporary story had seemed as serious to me. I do realize that many, if not most readers have or may disagree with me, but I can only speak from my experience. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Muhtasin Oyshik

    Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate Heartache, agony, meanness, and cruelty.One of the hardest books I have ever read. The topic in the book is disturbing and It is especially compelling because it is based on something that actually happened. This is a book that will fill you with shame for what society did to its children. I want a pain that has a beginning and an end, not one that goes on forever and cuts all the way to the bone. Unthinkable. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate Heartache, agony, meanness, and cruelty.One of the hardest books I have ever read. The topic in the book is disturbing and It is especially compelling because it is based on something that actually happened. This is a book that will fill you with shame for what society did to its children. I want a pain that has a beginning and an end, not one that goes on forever and cuts all the way to the bone. Unthinkable.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Sometimes a story must be told. Sometimes when the average rating for a book by 65, 652 people is 4.39...we are foolish to not read it. Sometime books rated high - are Goodreads Choice Winners - really ‘are’ heartbreaking- beautiful- emotional - important - historical - powerful - eye opening - educational - ( based on real life scandals) - wonderful and compelling. Sad with a happy ending! Like many have said —- I am glad I read it. The horrors were gut-wrenching - no other way to say it The few Sometimes a story must be told. Sometimes when the average rating for a book by 65, 652 people is 4.39...we are foolish to not read it. Sometime books rated high - are Goodreads Choice Winners - really ‘are’ heartbreaking- beautiful- emotional - important - historical - powerful - eye opening - educational - ( based on real life scandals) - wonderful and compelling. Sad with a happy ending! Like many have said —- I am glad I read it. The horrors were gut-wrenching - no other way to say it The few sparkles had me feeling ‘thank God’. As far as ‘storytelling’ goes ( two storylines) - past & present....I enjoyed both stories - so completely different - but my heart went out deeper for the past story with 12 year old Rill and his brothers and sisters. SIDE NOTE.... 1.....I sincerely feel thankful to the Goodreads Community——it’s books like this 'and' the other book which I’m almost done ‘listening’ to “Only Child” by Rhiannon......(which has me feel extra close to you BOOK PEOPLE).... ESPECIALLY TODAY — Given the horrific events in Florida— THE NEWS TODAY MAKES ME SICK-- I just want to do a GIGANTIC GROUP HUG WITH EACH OF YOU..... Thank you to the many readers of “Before We Were Yours” and sharing your heartfelt reviews. Thank you to the author Lisa Wingate for writing a book we needed to read. 2.....I’m about to take a ‘small’ neighbor walk ( injured my right quadricep muscle a few days ago - even walking is a challenge)....but I need the fresh air —- I’ve recently been engaged with DEEP AFFECTING BOOKS....so much sadness --plus my own body setbacks (again) --haha -- After I finish ‘Only Child’ ... I need a comic release book. Got suggestions?? Lighting candles tonight on Valentines Day ....not for us .....but with thoughts of all the people who this devastating news in Florida day are hurting beyond anything I can imagine. Happy Valentines to each of YOU ❤️

  12. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    I don't read a lot of non fiction so I really appreciate when a novel can enlighten me on things that happened that I wouldn't have otherwise known about . As in Orphan Train when I first learned about their existence or in What She Left Behind, which highlights the atrocities of a mental institution and in particular the treatment of women, this story inspired by real events relays the sad story of a family torn apart by the greed and horrible acts against children and their families. The autho I don't read a lot of non fiction so I really appreciate when a novel can enlighten me on things that happened that I wouldn't have otherwise known about . As in Orphan Train when I first learned about their existence or in What She Left Behind, which highlights the atrocities of a mental institution and in particular the treatment of women, this story inspired by real events relays the sad story of a family torn apart by the greed and horrible acts against children and their families. The author explains in her note that the characters are fictional but the place and the circumstances and the woman who perpetrated these acts are real. In a recent interview Wingate described the seed for this story. " A rerun of the Investigation Discovery: Dangerous Women cycled through at about two in the morning. I looked up and saw images of an old mansion. The front room was filled with bassinettes and babies. I tuned in and immediately became fascinated by the bizarre, tragic, and startling history of Georgia Tann and her Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. I couldn’t help but dig into the story. That was the spark that ignited Before We Were Yours." 5/29/17 in an interview on The Untold Story Guru. The reality of what happened to numerous children from 1920 - 1960 is depicted through the story of five siblings taken illegally and subjected to the adoption for money system spearheaded by Tann. I said that the story is sad, but that's an understatement. It really is heartbreaking and though the characters are fictional, I couldn't help but think about the real children who were affected. There are past and present storylines that do come together and make for a captivating read. The Goodreads description provides more plot details, which I will leave out here and just say that I definitely recommend it. I can't quite give it 5 stars as I felt that the romantic thread in the current story diluted the story a bit for me . It didn't add to the importance in my opinion. Having said that, this is a worthy read, eye opening and heart wrenching with a thoughtful and satisfying ending. I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group- Balllantine through NetGalley.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    4 Stars. A Disturbing, Heart-wrenching & Powerful Piece of Historical Fiction. Before We Were Yours is a story about families torn apart by Social Injustice. Told from two different points of view: Rill, now known as May, who experienced horrors most of us can’t even begin to imagine; and Avery, a former Federal Prosecutor and the Daughter of a Senator, who feels the need to live up to her families’ expectations at all times. Between the 1920’s-1950’s, The Tennessee Children’s Home Society was run 4 Stars. A Disturbing, Heart-wrenching & Powerful Piece of Historical Fiction. Before We Were Yours is a story about families torn apart by Social Injustice. Told from two different points of view: Rill, now known as May, who experienced horrors most of us can’t even begin to imagine; and Avery, a former Federal Prosecutor and the Daughter of a Senator, who feels the need to live up to her families’ expectations at all times. Between the 1920’s-1950’s, The Tennessee Children’s Home Society was run by a matron named Georgia Tann. She illegally adopted out hundreds of children to the highest bidder. Those who stayed in the care of the home were abused, neglected, or worse. And sadly, many children died under her care. The tactics Ms. Tann used to scare parents into signing their children over were despicable and once that happened, there was nothing that could be done. She was the epitome of evil incarnate. Just ask Rill Foss and her four younger siblings, who found themselves in Tennessee Children’s Home Society one day, after their parents left them home alone. Rill thought life was a struggle before, but she had no idea how good they had it. One by one, Rill’s family fell apart and she lost control of everything. Avery Stafford is a former Federal Prosecutor, who left her own life behind (which includes her fiancé) to return home to care for her ailing father, the Senator. She has been summoned to attend political functions and events with him and be the “dutiful daughter.” In the midst of attending these events, she decides to visit with her Grandmother Judy, who is suffering from Dementia. During this visit, her Grandmother divulges something to Avery that she has kept hidden all of her life. This secret leads Avery to uncover facts about her Grandmother and helps Avery down her own path to self-discovery. The girls and women in Before We Were Yours are extremely strong & independent. My heart broke for all of the children who spent time in The Tennessee Children’s Home Society or any place that even remotely resembles that. Parts of this story were not easy to read. It is a truly profound & thought-provoking character study, which is full of atrocities that no person, let alone a child, should ever have to endure. While the subject matter is a tough one, the book is very well done and the storylines are intertwined expertly. Lisa Wingate’s writing is phenomenal. The book is so good, it actually hurts to read. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine & Lisa Wingate for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Published on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon on 6.11.17.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    No matter how many stories are told or books written, it seems there is a neverending supply of man's inhumanity to others still to be told. The culture, silence and greed necessary to let this type of evil perpetuate and grow. The Tennessee Children's society is the focus of this novel, harm against the helpless and most vulnerable among us and the poor who did not have the resources necessary to fight back. Hidden within plain sight, this place flourished in it's cruelty and money making by th No matter how many stories are told or books written, it seems there is a neverending supply of man's inhumanity to others still to be told. The culture, silence and greed necessary to let this type of evil perpetuate and grow. The Tennessee Children's society is the focus of this novel, harm against the helpless and most vulnerable among us and the poor who did not have the resources necessary to fight back. Hidden within plain sight, this place flourished in it's cruelty and money making by the silence of those who knew and should have spoken, but didn't. Two alternate stories, one in the past narrated by a young girl, whose brother and three sisters were taken from their parents and brought to this horrible place. Children were not treated well here, punished severely for minor indescretions and fed as little as possible. Blonde children were particularly valuable as they were more easily adopted, bringing the larger sums of money to it's notorious founder. Her story is heartbreaking, and though hers is a made up character her story is representative of many that were factual. The modern day story follows a grown woman, Avery, from a prestigious family who wants to find the truth about her beloved grandmother, now suffering from dementia, life and her own family background. I readily admit to liking the former story more, the writing is finer, the characters more fleshed out, the plot tighter and their story more interesting. I did like how the stories come together in the end. All in all, the author did a fine job with this book and bringing to light another little known injustice. Of course these type and other injustices are not just confined to the past, and I can't help thinking about the injustices being committed in our present that readers will read about fifty years from now. Something to think about. ARC from Netgalley

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    The events these two have weathered make me marvel. This is what's possible when love is real and strong, when people are devoted to one another, when they'll sacrifice anything to be together. This is what I want for myself, but I sometimes wonder if it's possible for our modern generation. We're so distracted, so... busy. Glancing down at my engagement ring, I think, Elliot and I have what it takes. We know each other so well. We've always been side by side... The birthday girl slowly pushes her The events these two have weathered make me marvel. This is what's possible when love is real and strong, when people are devoted to one another, when they'll sacrifice anything to be together. This is what I want for myself, but I sometimes wonder if it's possible for our modern generation. We're so distracted, so... busy. Glancing down at my engagement ring, I think, Elliot and I have what it takes. We know each other so well. We've always been side by side... The birthday girl slowly pushes herself out of her chair, taking her beau's arm. They move along together, stooped and crooked and leaning. The sight is sweet and heart tugging. I hope my parents live to this ripe old stage of life. I hope they'll have a long retirement... someday... YEARS in the future when my father finally decides to slow down. pg. 11 Have you ever picked up a book that's wildly popular only to find out it's a piece of trash? I have. Have you ever read a New York Times Bestseller that's described as 'poignant' and 'powerful' only to discover it is a cheap, cardboard, faux emotional attempt at writing? I have. I finally decided to pick up this incredibly popular novel, and that was a mistake. By page 7 I realized that this was going to be painful. Wingate's writing is absolutely terrible, she sounds like someone who is writing in a high school creative writing class. She also seems determined to wrench feelings out of her readers, often with unintended comic effects. I didn't add the ellipses in this opening quote. It's as it appears in the book. Plot aside, let's forget about the plot for a moment. The writing is atrocious, the characterization is non-existent. Nothing happens the way it would in real life, everyone speaks in ways that sound like they are reading from a novel. Here's an example of a character talking: “My last sight of ----- was through the tangles of my new mother's hair as she hugged me close. He stood at the edge of the trees where I had been only moments before, and then he turned and went back to the water. I never saw him again.” pg. 316 Nobody talks like this. NOBODY. Unless they have prepared a speech to be read at a dinner or something. In casual conversation, no. She's SPEAKING, to another person, in casual conversation. This isn't an excerpt of the novel's prose. Wingate insists on including a modern-day story about some rich federal prosecutor “falling out of love” with her rich fiancé and “falling in love” with someone less titled and entitled. I put these phrases in quotes because the character in question, Avery, has no passion, no feelings for either men, and the idea of her being in love with anyone is frankly laughable. This is a result of Wingate's terrible, cardboard characters that have no life in them. This was also a completely pointless subplot that had no business being in the book and added absolutely nothing to the story. The plot, based on true events, could have been stunning and emotional in the hands of someone who could actually write. Unfortunately, Wingate couldn't write herself out of a paper bag. Her maudlin, overwrought prose combined with characters who are so flat and dull and unemotional creates a book that desperately wants to make you cry but is completely lacks the means to do so. Celeste Ng is a better writer. Jodi Picoult is a better writer. Liane Moriarty – who I am no fan of, let me tell you – is a better writer than Lisa Wingate. The only person I'd say Wingate writes better than is Danielle Steel, and that's a really, really low bar to set for an author. Even this I'm not sure of, I'd have to pick up another Steel novel to see who is worse. A warm, pleasant sensation rushes through me. I'm completely unprepared for it. I will it not to show in my voice. “Ohhhh, don't remind me. If this keeps up much longer, I'm liable to go all Ninja Turtle on someone.” pg. 259 I mean, o.O You are also going to have to deal with child rape, child abuse, and child prostitution. It's off-page, but fair warning that it is a theme here. Another huge flaw with this book is all the extra baggage Wingate packs in here. She includes about eight little subplots that are absolutely pointless and go absolutely nowhere. Why are they included? Who the heck knows. Expect to get introduced to a bunch of characters who have nothing to do with anything and will never get involved in the plot, expect Wingate to introduce a lot of seemingly relevant plot points that will just suddenly be dropped and never mentioned again. Where was the editor? It's frustrating. CAN YOU SAY ANYTHING POSITIVE AT ALL ABOUT THIS BOOK, CARMEN? Yes. It does a boorish yet mildly okay job of illustrating both a.) the complete worthlessness of children's lives in the past, the attitudes in the past towards children (that they are props, less than human, like animals, slaves, toys, etc. etc. and the absolute disregard in which they were treated by adults, 'good' and 'bad' alike and b.) the absolutely mundane and unremarkable everyday reality of racism and racist attitudes. A lot of people think racism involves big fireworks, someone going around saying the n-word, or things like Klan activity – when in reality most racism is boring, subtle, so woven into the fabric of everyday life that people think it's not even worth commenting on, and it radiates out of these white characters in the 'past (1930s and 1940s)' section of the book every time they meet a black person. TL;DR Complete trash. Horrible writing. Lackluster and frankly ludicrous characters with almost no personality. Poor attempt at an emotional plot or idea. Absolutely pandering to any kind of easy, emotional screw she can twist – and doing an absolutely shit job of it. Writers like Jodi Picoult do the same thing, but they can actually achieve some effectiveness. MORE BAD WRITING EXAMPLES: Here's a taste: Jonah shakes his head, and Trent gives me a quizzical look, sandy-blond brows twisting together. He has a very flexible forehead. pg. 163 – I mean, this is unbelievably bad. A blush rushes up my neck. I'm not usually so dependent. Maybe it's a by-product of Daddy's health crisis and Grandma Judy's issues, but a painful sense of mortality clings to me. It's thick and persistent like fog off the river. I can only feel my way through it, blind to whatever might be lurking. pg. 23 ”She's just scared to death of losing Daddy.” I choke a little on the last word. These past few months have rubbed us raw from the inside out, left each of us silently bleeding beneath our skins. pg. 22 Nothing takes you from thirty years old to thirteen faster than your mother's voice rebounding up the stairs like a tennis ball after a forehand slice. pg. 21 Babies, I remind myself. It sinks in that there's more than one, like puppies, and this ain't normal. Three lives lay half-hidden by the bed curtain Queenie sewed from pretty Golden Heart flour sacks. Three bodies try to pull themselves apart from each other, but they can't. pg. 18 But something's in the air just now... something that's not right. A spat of gooseflesh runs up my arms and needles my cheeks. There's always been a knowing in me. I'd never tell a living soul of it, but it's there just the same. A chill settles through me in the airless summer night. Overhead, the sky is thick, the clouds are ripe as melons fair to bursting. There's a storm coming, but what I feel is something more than that. pg. 15 On occasion, it is as if the latches in my mind have gone rusty and worn. The doors fall open and closed at will. A peek inside here. An empty space there. A dark place I'm afraid to peer into. I never know what I will find. There's no predicting when a barrier will swing wide, or why. Triggers. That's what the psychologist call them on TV shows. Triggers... as if the strike ignites the gunpowder and sends a projectile spinning down a rifle barrel. It's an appropriate metaphor. Her face triggers something. pg 14 Happiness and emotion swell the room, stretching it like a helium balloon. Any more joy and we'll all float away. pg. 12 My father is a high-profile face upon which public anger and political finger-pointing can be focused. Anger and blame are powerful weapons. The opposition knows that. pg. 10 Every available avenue is paved with guilt, lined with pain, and pockmarked with shame. pg. 8 OTHER TOPICS Pinochet, los desaparecidos, Chile, https://www.cnn.com/2014/10/30/world/... and etc. etc. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. UPDATE: 04/12/2019 "We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph's Catholic Orphanage" https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/... NAMES IN THIS BOOK: (view spoiler)[ Christine f Avery f Leslie f Judy f Luci f Frank m Elliot m May f Fern f Queenie f Camellia f Gabion m Briny m Lark f? Bitsy f Courtney f Courtney Lynne Allison f Cal m Andrew m Rill f? Zede m Ian m Lois f Dot f Mini f Silas m Wells m Georgia f Sherry f Stevie m Iris f Bonnie f Beth f Robby m Jason m Missy f Shellie f Hannah f Trent m Harold m Dortha f Lonnie m James m Darren m Amelia f Clifford m Diana f Jonah m Lou f Shad Arthur f Mary Anne f Eugenia f Abby f Mary f Ida f Dora f Victoria f Zuma f Hoy m Hootsie f Stanley m Doughboy – horse Bobby m Oz m Arney m / Arnelle f Sammy dog Bart m Bartholomew Ted m (hide spoiler)]

  16. 4 out of 5

    BernLuvsBooks

    5 Stars - a heart wrenching, emotional and haunting read! "But 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." This book - how can I put in to words how it made me feel? It basically tore my heart into a million pieces but also filled it at the same time. How is that even possible? The answer is actually quite simple - the Foss children. Their tale was one of unimaginable loss and 5 Stars - a heart wrenching, emotional and haunting read! "But 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." This book - how can I put in to words how it made me feel? It basically tore my heart into a million pieces but also filled it at the same time. How is that even possible? The answer is actually quite simple - the Foss children. Their tale was one of unimaginable loss and hardship yet it was also one of incredible love, hope and strength. This story was powerful and I loved the way it unfolded in alternating voices and time periods. It was the perfect blend of past & present. The fact that it's based on the true story of the Tennessee Children's Home Society and Georgia Tann makes it all the more powerful. I knew these characters were fictional BUT they were sharing a very horrific reality of many children and families and I was very aware of that as I read this story. It haunted me, touched me deeply and made reading this book such a moving and emotional experience. This one will stay with me for a long time to come & I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a "must read". Now to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart & put it back together.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    This is 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—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. The siblings were kidnapped and taken to the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis, Tennessee. Miss Tann This is 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—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. The siblings were kidnapped and taken to the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis, Tennessee. Miss Tann is an evil lady and controls all the decisions. The home is rotten to the core. The stories are sad and gruesome. Kids were brokened. Georgia Tann made money by charging huge fees for adoptions, transportation, delivery out of state. She took children from poor families and sold them to celebrities and people with political interest. She duped women in hospital maternity wards into signing surrender papers while they were still under sedation. She told people that their babies died when they hadn't. Miss Tann was such a monster, a very evil lady. Georgia Tann did indeed facilitate the adoptions of children from the 1920's through the 1950's. Many of the children were not orphans. Many had loving parents who wanted tonraise them. The children were literally kidnapped in broad daylight and no matter how birth parents tried to fight in court, they were not allowed to win. The babies weren't given proper food or medical care. They were to weak and dehydrated to cry. They were tied to beds, and chairs, they were beaten, held under the bath water, and were molested. It was a house of horrors. In the end Georgia Tann died of cancer before before she could be forced to answer charges. My Thoughts I thought the book was a little disturbing and heartbreaking. The book went back and forth to the past and present. The past was the siblings earlier years and the horror they went through. The present was the siblings trying to find each other when they got older. I loved the earlier years the best. It was so emotional and heart breaking. I can't imagine how anyone could do these things to kids, but it happened. It was so awful. The Tennessee Children's home was a horror home. No child should have to go through what these children went through. The author did very well with the characters. She made them come to life. The siblings had a deep love for each other. My heart went out for them. I just adored the siblings, Lark, Fern, Gabian, Camellia, and Rill. I felt that Rill was the strongest one. Miss Tann was an evil lady, a monster. This is an emotional, heart breaking book that will stick with me for a long time. This was a Traveling Sister Read and enjoyed discussing it with them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    An amazing,don't want to put down, hold the book in a big hug and wish this story never ended. Sigh* BUT.... This grabbed me from the get go. Two stories told simultaneously during 2 different time periods. Avery's story, present day. She's an attorney who has met up with a woman in a nursing home who says she looks familiar. Curiosity starts to open this Pandora's box. Rill, a river rat, has been kidnapped along with her 4 siblings back in the 30's and sent to an orphanage to be sold to the high An amazing,don't want to put down, hold the book in a big hug and wish this story never ended. Sigh* BUT.... This grabbed me from the get go. Two stories told simultaneously during 2 different time periods. Avery's story, present day. She's an attorney who has met up with a woman in a nursing home who says she looks familiar. Curiosity starts to open this Pandora's box. Rill, a river rat, has been kidnapped along with her 4 siblings back in the 30's and sent to an orphanage to be sold to the highest bidder. Secrets are revealed that threaten to destroy a political family. Based on reality, which is disturbing in itself, I'm still left baffled. How does Judy fit in here? What did I miss?? I did have some wine while I was reading this but not during its entirety. I loved the writing, I didn't mind the romance but it could have been a great story without it. 4.5 ⭐️ and a big thanks to Jen M. for her sleuthing efforts for assisting me with the final piece of the puzzle!

  19. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    ‘for the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didnt - may your stories not be forgotten.’ the story of the ross siblings may be a work of fiction, but there are a countless number of children whose experiences were not. i had never heard of the tennessee childrens home society orphanage before this book, but i am so saddened that something so oppressive could ever take place and that so many people not only turned a blind eye to it, but ‘benefited’ from it. this is exactly why i am ‘for the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didnt - may your stories not be forgotten.’ the story of the ross siblings may be a work of fiction, but there are a countless number of children whose experiences were not. i had never heard of the tennessee childrens home society orphanage before this book, but i am so saddened that something so oppressive could ever take place and that so many people not only turned a blind eye to it, but ‘benefited’ from it. this is exactly why i am so often drawn to historical fiction books - because they ensure that certain stories are told and can never be forgotten. i love that i felt like i was learning while i read this. not necessarily learning facts or information, but i felt like i was learning about humanity - the good and the bad. i love the title and everything it represents. and i love how this story follows a very unfortunate circumstance but remains optimistic. this is an easy book to recommend if you enjoy historical fiction (beyond WWII), stories about the power of family, and the importance of personal history. ↠ 4 stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Debra (having surgery will be off for a few days)

    Historical fiction about family - those we have lost, those we have found and those with painful secrets. I love books (and movies) that are based on true events. This books sheds light on a another dark time in our nation's history - sad times for the children and families affected. A time where adoptions were not always legal and people who could pay for a child were given one no questions asked. This book begins in Memphis in 1939 when twelve year old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings a Historical fiction about family - those we have lost, those we have found and those with painful secrets. I love books (and movies) that are based on true events. This books sheds light on a another dark time in our nation's history - sad times for the children and families affected. A time where adoptions were not always legal and people who could pay for a child were given one no questions asked. This book begins in Memphis in 1939 when twelve year old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings are awaiting the birth of another sibling. When their father leaves on a boat to take their Mother to the hospital after complications arise during labor, men board the river boat on which they live, thus changing their lives forever. They are left at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage and are at the mercy of the branch operator, Georgina Tann. In the present day in Aiken, South Carolina, Avery Stafford, has returned home to assist her father with a health issue. While home she is approached by an elderly woman named May who takes her bracelet. When she meets with the woman, questions arise. Avery goes on a quest to learn the truth and to find out what connection this woman, May, has with her family. This book goes back and forth from 1939 to the present day. As the story progresses it is obvious that the story lines are going to meet but how they get there is the real gem of this book. The Author does a brilliant job in blending fact with fiction. She is able to take this real life scandal and insert her characters within it to tell the story of two families torn apart and put back together again. The Author shows the reader how Georgina Tann stole the children not only from their families but from their culture, their way of life, from their own identity and created new lives for them. This book is both heartbreaking, sad, hopeful and informative. How many lives were changed is astounding. The corruption that took many to pull off, the pain and suffering involved is really astounding. So much injustice and heartbreak caused to line the pocketbooks of those corrupt individuals. It is not a new story - people profiting off the pain of others..but it is an important one. See more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  21. 5 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    The perfect blend of past and present.... The present day was filled with mystery and secrets while the past was filled with heartbreak and hope... 5 simply stunning stars!🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 WOW! Another fabulous book, the south sure can spin a story! I have read quite a few books recently that take place in the south, and all were wonderful and very interesting to this California girl.... and even though the historic part of this book was horrific and tragic, I could still see the hope, the good and the cult The perfect blend of past and present.... The present day was filled with mystery and secrets while the past was filled with heartbreak and hope... 5 simply stunning stars!🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 WOW! Another fabulous book, the south sure can spin a story! I have read quite a few books recently that take place in the south, and all were wonderful and very interesting to this California girl.... and even though the historic part of this book was horrific and tragic, I could still see the hope, the good and the cultural Pride of the southern people..... This book took place during the 1940s as well as the present day....Rill A feisty river girl and her siblings were basically stolen and taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home.... The conditions of this home or absolutely tragic and what made it even more tragic is that it was based on a real place and events.... I am still slightly shocked that this actually took place in America and for 30 years?Rill was such a fighter, such a survivor, I was just so heartbroken for her and her siblings and what they went through... The heartbreak of the historic part of this book made the present day part of this book even better, it was a breath of fresh air... Avery was another strong character, trying to figure out her grandmothers secrets, and I was trying to figure them out right along with her.... there was even a little romance, and even if this book all tied up a little too neatly at the end, I am a sucker for a happy ending! And this definitely ended happily ever after! narration: major props to these narrators I think they added so much to the book they were Rill and Avery.... so five stunning stars also go to Catherine Taber and Emily Rankin... this was a Traveling Sister read with Jan, Marybeth, Brenda, Norma, and Marie Alyce... it is definitely more fun reading with sisters/friends like these!💕 You can find all the Traveling Sisters reviews at Norma and Brenda’s fabulous blog... https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    PRELUDE Baltimore, Maryland AUGUST 3, 1939 “My story begins on a sweltering August night, in a place I will never set eyes upon. The room takes life only in my imaginings. It is large most days when I conjure it. The walls are white and clean, the bed linens crisp as a fallen leaf. The private suite has the very finest of everything. Outside, the breeze is weary, and the cicadas throb in the tall trees, their verdant hiding places just below the window frames. The screens sway inward as PRELUDE Baltimore, Maryland AUGUST 3, 1939 “My story begins on a sweltering August night, in a place I will never set eyes upon. The room takes life only in my imaginings. It is large most days when I conjure it. The walls are white and clean, the bed linens crisp as a fallen leaf. The private suite has the very finest of everything. Outside, the breeze is weary, and the cicadas throb in the tall trees, their verdant hiding places just below the window frames. The screens sway inward as the attic fan rattles overhead, pulling at wet air that has no desire to be moved. “The scent of pine wafts in, and the woman’s screams press out as the nurses hold her fast to the bed. Sweat pools on her skin and rushes down her face and arms and legs. She’d be horrified if she were aware of this. “She is pretty. A gentle, fragile soul. Not the sort who would intentionally bring about the catastrophic unraveling that is only, this moment, beginning. In my multifold years of life, I have learned that most people get along as best they can. They don’t intent to hurt anyone. It is merely a terrible by-product of surviving.” This is the story of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, the facility, “home,” where Rill Foss, who will be renamed May Weathers, and her siblings who become wards, as well, are also all renamed by Georgia Tann. Tann ran the TCHS from the 1920s until the 1950’s. Her goal was not a lofty one, but for earthly riches – the kind you can deposit in the bank. The children were occasionally surrendered; often women under the influences of drugs during labor were forced to sign paperwork they couldn’t see well enough to understand even if they could read it. Often, the children were taken from their own front yards, stolen. Alternating between the present and the past, this weaves two narratives of some of the children who ended up at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, their story as the children who have just been brought to the TCHS, what treatment they endured, survived – although, not all survived – and how these events shaped them as adults, as parents themselves. What drew me back in, over and over again, was that I still found myself wanting to know what had happened to this family, and especially to Rill. What a marvelous character, a young girl in years, but ageless in wisdom, born to the river – I wanted to know the rest of her story. Engaging, emotional, a slow unraveling of the history, weaving in present day dilemmas which, needless to say, pale by comparison - against the ones these children endured. That seems to be the way that life is. It’s so easy to complain about small things, until you wake up to the news that Mexico has had a devastating earthquake, or see the latest news about the wildfires in California, or that Puerto Rico still is mostly without electricity, food, water. In the note from the author section, Wingate notes: “The Foss children and the Arcadia were formed from the dust of imagination and the muddy waters of the Mississippi River. Though Rill and her siblings exist only in these pages, their experiences mirror those reported by children who were taken from the families from the 1920s through 1950. “The true story of Georgia Tann and the Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society is a bizarre and sad paradox. There is little doubt that the organization rescued many children from deplorable, dangerous circumstances, or simply accepted children who were unwanted and place them in loving home. There is also little doubt that countless children were taken from loving parents without cause or due process and never seen again by their desperately grieving biological families.” Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system for the loan of this book!

  23. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    The background: This book is based on the real life events that happened at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, an adoption agency is Memphis, TN, operated by Georgia Tann. The agency was a front for a black market adoption scheme in the 1920s. Ms. Tann would take babies and children from poor families and sell them to the wealthy. Many of the children’s names were changed and records destroyed so the children could not later be traced or found. Many prominent people adopted children from the The background: This book is based on the real life events that happened at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, an adoption agency is Memphis, TN, operated by Georgia Tann. The agency was a front for a black market adoption scheme in the 1920s. Ms. Tann would take babies and children from poor families and sell them to the wealthy. Many of the children’s names were changed and records destroyed so the children could not later be traced or found. Many prominent people adopted children from the home including Joan Crawford, June Allyson, and the NY governor. Other children were placed in abusive homes, or homes where they were used for child labor on farms. The home was closed in 1950 but Georgia Tann died before she could be prosecuted. Eventually, adoption reform laws were passed. Lisa Wingate’s book is a fictionalized account of this scheme. I'm grateful to the author for shedding light on this shameful part of our history. Knowing the story was based on true events just made it that much more horrifying. The story is a dual story line: one features a family of children who were taken from their parents, and spent time in the home before being separated and adopted, while the second story line is set in the present day, featuring a young woman, Avery, who is searching for the truth about her grandmother. However, while I appreciated learning about the children’s story, I didn't care for the writing style. It all became tiresome and eye-roll inducing. Avery's story added nothing and the overwrought writing is not to my taste. I would rather read a non-fiction book about the Children's Home.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Norma

    4 stars! Cover love!!!! BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by LISA WINGATE is a heartbreaking, interesting, and a powerful Historical Fiction novel that was enlightening to read.  This story was inspired by actual true life events about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society that was based in Memphis and the director Georgia Tann. This Memphis-based adoption organization was absolutely horrific in the way that they treated and exploited these children. We thought that LISA WINGATE did a wonderful job at shedding 4 stars! Cover love!!!! BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by LISA WINGATE is a heartbreaking, interesting, and a powerful Historical Fiction novel that was enlightening to read.  This story was inspired by actual true life events about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society that was based in Memphis and the director Georgia Tann. This Memphis-based adoption organization was absolutely horrific in the way that they treated and exploited these children. We thought that LISA WINGATE did a wonderful job at shedding light onto this story of how these children were exploited and of course, it was very heartbreaking and shocking to read about. Some of us didn’t even know that this horror even existed and went on for so long. Our heart broke for the children, parents and for the adoptive parents as well. Although, this story was based on true life stories the actual children that were portrayed in this novel were fictional. LISA WINGATE delivers a well-researched and emotional story here with alternate timelines, one from the past which was told by a young girl named Rill who was taken from her parents along with her brother and three sisters and were brought to this horrible place. The present day story was told to us by an adult woman named Avery who is in search of learning the truth about her Grandmother’s past.   Out of the two storylines a few of us enjoyed the present day one a little bit more as we didn’t connect as much to the characters from the past story as we did to the present day ones. The children that were in this horror home they all seemed to blur together and we felt like we never really got to know them.  We absolutely felt for the children in a whole though but all the horror just blended together. We felt we could see Rill's grief but we couldn't feel her grief. We could see that she wanted to go home to her parents but really couldn't feel her desperation. Some of us thought LISA WINGATE spent a little too much time on that and it created too much drama for some of us.  For the others they really enjoyed both stories. We absolutely loved how the two stories came together in the end though. Brenda and I read BEFORE WE WERE YOURS with four of our Traveling Sisters and we were split on how we felt about this one with some of us loving it much more.  For Brenda and I we were split as well with me enjoying it somewhat more than what she did. Most of us agree this was our favorite kind of historical fiction however for a couple of us things didn’t quite work out as well for them. To sum it all up it was an engrossing, moving, heart-wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale that has definitely left us with a lasting impression.  Would recommend! All of our Traveling Sisters Review can be found on our sister blog: https://twosisterslostinacouleereadin...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    3.5 stars This story is told in two time periods. You have present time with Avery Stafford. Avery is a senator's daughter and when her father gets sick Avery comes home to help aid him in any way she can. Some questions come up about her grandmother's past that Avery digs into that leads her down a path she never imagined. Then you have Memphis in 1939. Rill is the oldest child of a couple that live in a river boat. One night her parents have to leave all five children home alone to rush their m 3.5 stars This story is told in two time periods. You have present time with Avery Stafford. Avery is a senator's daughter and when her father gets sick Avery comes home to help aid him in any way she can. Some questions come up about her grandmother's past that Avery digs into that leads her down a path she never imagined. Then you have Memphis in 1939. Rill is the oldest child of a couple that live in a river boat. One night her parents have to leave all five children home alone to rush their mother to the hospital. While they are gone the police show up and take the children. They end up in the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage under the care of the infamous Georgia Tann. The kids were told that they were being taken so that their parents could later pick them up but Rill is beginning to realize that something more is going on. She tries to keep her brothers and sisters together but people are showing up for viewings and they are taking her siblings from her. I had not heard of this children's home or the true life Georgia Mann. Things were swept under the carpet while she was alive and committing her crimes and now it still doesn't seem to be talked about. She charged exorbitant fees for 'adoption' fees and even blackmailed parents into paying more money. Children 'disappeared' under her care, they were sexually, physically and mentally abused. I'm floored that she was allowed and abetted by judges, police officers and who the crap all knows. This book felt kinda chick litty for me but it does touch on her crimes in ways that will make you rage. I'm a nosey heifer and looked up her crimes and I'm disgusted. I'm glad that the author did take the time to spotlight this dang evil woman. The children's story line in this book was my favorite as the present day one just never connected for me. I'm glad I read it and hope that more authors will shine a light on these crimes. There are still people that will never know the truth behind their pasts. I can't imagine how these parents felt when their children were taken and there was nothing they could do. This is the face of an evil ass woman. She should be listed with Charles Manson, Jeffery Dahmer and all those other serial killers. The old bitch.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Crumb

    "For the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didn't. May your stories not be forgotten. For those who help today's orphans find forever homes. May you always know the value of your work and your love." The Tennessee Home for Children (T.H.C.) was run and operated by Georgia Tann during the first half of the twentieth century. Although some children living in the home truly were orphans, there were many others that were torn from their homes. The reason?The mother may have been unw "For the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didn't. May your stories not be forgotten. For those who help today's orphans find forever homes. May you always know the value of your work and your love." The Tennessee Home for Children (T.H.C.) was run and operated by Georgia Tann during the first half of the twentieth century. Although some children living in the home truly were orphans, there were many others that were torn from their homes. The reason?The mother may have been unwed or the family was poor. Unbelievable, right? The law enforcement in the area covered for Georgia Tann and the other workers at the facility. In addition, there were "spotters" that would look for vulnerable targets to kidnap and place under the care of the T.H.C. If this weren't bad enough, the children were horribly abused and mistreated. Georgia Tann illegally adopted ,no sold,these children to the highest bidder, as if they were cattle. Briny told his daughter, Rill that she was princess of kingdom Arcadia. The river was her soul and the animals were her subjects. Rill lived and breathed the river. One fateful night,Queenie, Rill’s mother was rushed to the hospital when the delivery of her twins went horribly wrong... Waiting for the opportunity to strike, it was during this time that a spotter kidnapped Rill and her siblings, transporting them to the T.H.C. Shaken and confused, Rill does the one thing she knows best. Survive. My soul feels empty. The unfairness of it all is maddening to me. How could a person, in good conscious, rip a child from a perfectly good home on the basis that their family was poor? Or rather, an unconventional situation that society deems “unfit.” My blood boils for these children and the atrocities they suffered at the hands of the T.H.C. Their cries and shouts fell on deaf ears. These children were at the mercy of ruthless beasts (humans), who only viewed them as a paycheck. The writing was effortless. I can’t believe this was a debut. I felt as if I was in the deep south right along with the characters. Although, this was a heartbreaking story, it is one that demands our attention. Let us not turn our backs on these victims ever again. We need to listen to their story. Once and for all. After all, we owe it to them.

  27. 4 out of 5

    ♥ℂĦℝΪՖƬΪℕÅ

    5 Heartbreaking ★'s “But 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.” This book is a fictional story, but it was inspired by true events. I finished reading this late into the night and I still can't get it out of my head. It was such a Strong, Emotional and Heart-wrenching read!! Any book that can make me feel the way I did, and make me cry the way I did, deserves nothing less than the 5 Heartbreaking ★'s “But 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.” This book is a fictional story, but it was inspired by true events. I finished reading this late into the night and I still can't get it out of my head. It was such a Strong, Emotional and Heart-wrenching read!! Any book that can make me feel the way I did, and make me cry the way I did, deserves nothing less than the FULL 5 Stars. It took me hours after I had finished to even fall asleep. My mind was spinning, my eyes were swollen, and I felt like something was sitting on my chest. Still, as I am writing this I can feel it. It has been a good while since I have read something that will say with me forever. I still don't know how I feel about the way it all ended. I guess for me the ending was bittersweet. I recommend this insanely phenomenal book to absolutely EVERYONE! *This cover is absolutely amazing! ♥*

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    4.5 This is a story that taught me about a time in history. In the 1930-1950's there was a woman named Georgia Tann who ran The Tennessee Children's Home Society, that stole children from poor families and sold them. The story of the sisters in this book, from a poor "river" family, is based on this history. It is really heart wrenching what happened to this family, but it was a beautifully told, and moving story. 4.5 This is a story that taught me about a time in history. In the 1930-1950's there was a woman named Georgia Tann who ran The Tennessee Children's Home Society, that stole children from poor families and sold them. The story of the sisters in this book, from a poor "river" family, is based on this history. It is really heart wrenching what happened to this family, but it was a beautifully told, and moving story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    NOT JUST A PRETTY COVER, but Lisa Wingate has taken a heartbreaking and criminal time in a nation's history and produced a moving and compelling story of sisters and families torn apart by the Tennessee Children's Home Society Scandal (Memphis late 1930s) I was swept in from page one in this well written historical fiction story and Lisa Wingate's novel is a terrific example of why I enjoy historical fiction stories. These stories reach thousands of readers like me who knew nothing about this sa NOT JUST A PRETTY COVER, but Lisa Wingate has taken a heartbreaking and criminal time in a nation's history and produced a moving and compelling story of sisters and families torn apart by the Tennessee Children's Home Society Scandal (Memphis late 1930s) I was swept in from page one in this well written historical fiction story and Lisa Wingate's novel is a terrific example of why I enjoy historical fiction stories. These stories reach thousands of readers like me who knew nothing about this sad time in American history and although this is a fiction tale based on true events it gives me the opportunity to decide whether I want to further my reading by picking up a non fiction book or content to have read and a well written and beautiful fiction read where the author thankfully includes a note at the end which explains what is fact and what is fiction and also gives a list of further reading which might interest the reader. I think every country has its shameful secrets and a small country like Ireland is up there with its fair share of shameful secrets and its disgraceful treatment of mothers and babies in the not so distant past which is still only coming to light in recent years. Lisa Wingate weaves a well thought out plot with memorable characters and while there were a couple of times in the story where I thought ok perhaps that was a little too convenient or contrived but I just tossed it aside as the enjoyment of the story far out weighted any tiny issues I might have had towards the end. So happy to have purchased a hard copy of this novel as another beauty to add to my real life book shelf and the dust cover is staying firmly in place on this one. :-)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    I was blown away by this story and the great writing! I’ve never read a novel by Ms.Wingate but I will certainly be looking for more of her books. This novel tells the historically correct story about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which was run by Georgia Tann in the late 1930’s. The story of the main characters was fiction but based on what really happened to many of the children in this orphanage. The plot is written from two points of view, that of Rill, later named May by her adoptive I was blown away by this story and the great writing! I’ve never read a novel by Ms.Wingate but I will certainly be looking for more of her books. This novel tells the historically correct story about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which was run by Georgia Tann in the late 1930’s. The story of the main characters was fiction but based on what really happened to many of the children in this orphanage. The plot is 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. From Rill’s story we learn about the children, many of whom were living in river shanty boats or other very low income type housing who were literally stolen away from their parents. Her story is heartbreaking but also triumphant, as she tries to protect her younger siblings who were all taken from their shanty boat on the river while her mother and father were in the city while taking care of her mother who was in a complicated labor and delivery. The children in this particular “home for orphans” were treated terribly, families ripped apart, the children living in terrible conditions and malnourished, some emotionally and physically abused. Avery, who was always very close to her grandmother, sees that she is slowing losing her memories and yet reveals in a conversation to Avery that there may be more to her life than anyone had ever known. When Avery meets another woman in a different nursing home who strongly resembles her grandmother and has a picture with her grandmother in it, she is determined to find out how these women are connected. She is also sure that there are more secrets to her grandmother’s life that she wants to learn about feeling that her grandmother’s memory is slowly slipping away and there is a limited amount of time to uncover the truth. There are other strong characters in this book that are all well developed. The writing is exceptional and the two story lines keep the reader puzzled as to how they will connect for the first two thirds of the book making the end discoveries a very engaging read. Not only is the book well written but it informs us of the atrocities that went on for many years under the Tennessee orphan home system. After I read the book I went online to learn more about this period in history and there is a lot to discover. I recommend this book to everyone who likes to read a well written character driven novel with a suspenseful atmosphere and historical details. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, thank you so much!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.