Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours

By Lisa Wingate

  • Release Date: 2017-06-06
  • Genre: Historical
Score: 4.5
From 1,420 Ratings
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*

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.

*Library Journal

Praise for Before We Were Yours

“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.” People

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.” Parade

“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel.” The Huffington Post

“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun


  • Before we were yours.

    By Oliverbentley.
    Best read in years. I normally don’t like when chapters skip back and forward in time but this was effortless. I felt as if I were there. Brilliant.
  • Before We Were Yours

    By CJuneShinners
    Lisa has captured the essence of the lives of these children and their families. It is truly a story of survival, heartbreak, loyalty, and courage. For some in this story, courage came without pause, and for others, courage came in baby steps. It can take a lifetime to become courageous. June
  • Badly written book - great topic

    By Mermaid100
    I loved the topic, now reading one of the non fiction books about Tann. The book was not well written. I don’t know what the rave reviews were about!
  • Great read

    By Runchase
    Wonderful yet heartbreaking story.
  • Before We Were Yours

    By Redhatpat
    Outstanding book. Outrageous what happened to so many innocent victims.
  • Left a lot of unknowns...

    By Argumentative1123
    I though it was a great book, but what happened to the other siblings?! I really liked how it went back and forth from past to present to tell the story.
  • A real page turner

    By Scanajott
    The author expertly tells the gist of what is a true story through her fictional characters. I enjoyed the suspense she built by transferring between generations... her main child character enduring the nightmare of the orphanage juxtaposed with the other main character - a successful attorney in modern day who, in addition to finding out the truth about the orphanage, was also finding out who she wanted to be, even when her decisions conflicted with what her powerful family otherwise had in my mind for her. Families, Trent's story and son being another great example, are created and woven together in different ways. This book challenges the stereotype of family and showcases those special bonds we share with our heritage, our "roots." Well done!
  • Fabulous

    By Kmcfp
    Based on actual historic facts. Sad yet captivating story. I couldn’t put it down.
  • One of my favorite books

    By jabw68
    The author has created characters who seem real. I didn't want to quit reading and even thought about the characters when I wasn't reading the book. The story was fully developed and no part of it was left hanging. This is now my new favorite author.
  • Before we were yours

    By Obuoy
    Reading this book for an upcoming book review really opened my eyes to the tragedy of greed for the love of money and power to control. Thank you for writing this book. I pray for the families that have experienced the forced loss of their children.