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Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa…
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Before We Were Yours: A Novel (2017)

by Lisa Wingate

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1,6451266,831 (4.16)58
"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"--… (more)
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Book club book that I was scared to read because I knew it would be sad and I cry easily. My SIL had recommended it to me, didn't understand why I would avoid it. Then it was a book club club nomination and got the most votes, so I had to try. And of course I cried....hard. But it was really good. We had a great discussion, everyone liked it, which is not the norm. We ended up talking about my own rather lazy search to identify my birth family. It was fun to share the details I do have. And now on to look up more of the real history of this nightmare and see if there is anything I need to my TBR list.... ( )
  MaureenCean | Oct 6, 2019 |
I'm always fascinated by books that include real-life history and stories in them. The "Dear America" diaries were some of my favorites growing up, and it's always been one of my favorite ways to learn history. It helps solidify that these were real people going through real things. And as time moves forward, the history starts getting closer and closer. It's easy to keep things distant when you're reading about the Titanic.

It's a lot harder when the story takes place less than a hundred years in the past. Times that family of mine could have lived through.

I'm not sure exactly why I keep recalling Boxcar Children for this, because it's not really the same in the slightest, but I think there's an element of the children forced to grow too fast and rely on each other more than most that brings that to mind. Wingate does a fantastic job of weaving a modern-day story of a woman realizing that her family isn't all it seems to be painted as, in with the tale of a group of siblings separated from their family and put through an absolute circle of hell.

The stories of the Tennessee Children's Home Society and what Georgia Tann was up to there are horrifying. I'm almost afraid to delve too far into the real-life horrors that happened there because if what we see in the book is anything to judge by...these aren't pretty pictures. It is a harrowing tale of the cruelty of greed, and the desperation of hope, and still manages to bring everything together at the end into a very satisfying ending. Wingate also does what I wish more authors would: there's a trace of romance, but it's never forced--the triangle never seems contrived--and the way that story ends seems much more realistic than most of the romance tropes I've seen. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

All these characters seem incredibly real, as if I could go down to the river (and while I live on a river, alas, it is not the same one) and see Arcadia sitting there, proud as ever with the whole family on board. I'll also say that the character of Arney has a very special place in my heart, but I won't say why, because spoilers.

I honestly curled up and read this book all in one day. It's been a long time since I've done that. I had to go somewhere and I brought my Kindle with me, because I couldn't stand being so close to the end and not seeing it through right then. A story very well told, and one I would definitely recommend...though if you're already feeling a little down, I might wait until a sunny day. This is not for the faint of heart.

I'll be interested to check out other things Wingate has written. She weaves a fine story.

Rating: **** (Highly Recommended) ( )
  KOrionFray | Oct 5, 2019 |
I really liked the story of this book and how the author wrote a really good story. and i was listening to this book off of audible and the woman who read Avery's part was very slow and that i had to put the speed on 1.25. But for where Rill's character was ok and at times she was annoying to listening after a while that was my only complain about the book i wish i read myself and i wish some of the chapters weren't so long but all in all i gave this book a 5 out of 5 star rating. ( )
  kellykelly901 | Sep 30, 2019 |
Absolutely heartbreaking. Alternates between Avery in present day and May/Rill in 1939. May/Rill is the oldest of 5 siblings that live on a river boat, when her mother is taken to the hospital to deliver her twins. The river boat kids are picked up and taken to the Memphis Children's Home, where they are split up, given new names and horrible things happen. Eventually Rill & her sister Fern are sent to the same adoptive home, but how does Avery's grandmother Judy tie into the picture? When Avery starts snooping around in Edisto Island, South Carolina, she meets up with Trent who's late grandfather helped find the lost children that were placed by the Tennessee home. Kept me guessing about Judy's identity until the end. ( )
  nancynova | Sep 27, 2019 |
I purchased this book from Half Priced Books to read with The Well Read Book Club. All opinions are my own. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. Avery Stafford seems to have it all, born to high society and raised in wealth and privilege with privacy of a political family. Until one day a lady from a nursing home approached her and called her Fern and accidentally stole her bracelet. When Avery returns to the nursing home to retrieve her bracelet she begins to unravel a story from long ago. Wingate was able to make a heart wrenching story based on the true story of The Tennessee Children's Home Society into a heart warming lesson of two sister's love for one another. Review also posted on Instagram @borenbooks, Library Thing, Twitter @jason_stacie, Facebook, Amazon, and my blog at readsbystacie.com ( )
  SBoren | Sep 21, 2019 |
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Epigraph
"Did you know that in this land of the free and home of the brave there is a great baby market? And the securities which change hands...are not mere engraved slips of paper promising certain financial dividends, but live, kicking, flesh-and-blood babies." Β ---FROM THE ARTICLE "THE BABY MARKET, The Saturday Evening Post, February 1, 1930
"They are, [Georgia Tann] said repeatedly, blank slates. They are born untainted, and if you adopt them at an early age and surround them with beauty and culture, they will become anything you wish them to be." Β ---BARBARA BISANTZ RAYMOND, The Baby Thief
Dedication
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 valueΒ 
of your work
and your love.
First words
My story begins on a sweltering August night, in a place I will never set eyes upon.
Quotations
It's funny how what you're used to seems like it's right even if it's bad.
Life is not unlike cinema.  Each scene has its own music, and the music is created for the scene, woven to it in ways we do not understand.  No matter how much we love the melody of a bygone day or imagine the song of a future one, we must dance within the music of today, or we will always be out of step, stumbling around in something that doesn't suit the moment.
I have to be close to my sister, We've been stitched together at the heart since she was born.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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