Four Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Violence

Sometimes a book is worth the tears

Confession, Before We Were Yours is appalling. Not because of the writing, which was fantastic, no this book was appalling because of the subject matter. I knew this one was going to be a hard read, but since I like to tell myself I can do hard things, I bucked up and read it. Even though there were many tears, it gave me all sorts of feels. Good, bad, sad, mad, I felt them all and more.

Lisa Wingate tells this story from two different peoples perspectives, one is present day and the other past. Sometimes I struggle when authors do this. They always switch stories right at a pivotal moment and leave you hanging and it drives me crazy. Although Lisa does tend to leave you hanging at some pretty crucial scenes, I was always so eager to get back to the other story line, that it didn’t bother me.

This book is heartbreaking and had me in tears many times. Many inconvenient times. The first time it made me cry I was walking through the grocery store. The second time I was cleaning the playroom with my kids. Let me tell you that when mom suddenly starts crying while cleaning it really worries ‘the littles’.

Before We Were Yours: A Novel by [Wingate, Lisa]

“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.”

The most appalling part is knowing that people lived through. This isn’t some hypothetical idea someone thought would make a good story. Real people had their babies taken from them. I can not even imagine. Lisa’s research and knowledge of events made the book come alive, in a heart breaking way .

The saving grace in this book is the ending. Though the reality is that Georgia Tann died before she could be brought to justice (Lisa mentions that had this been a true work of fiction she would have written in justice), as a religious person it’s my belief that though she wasn’t in this life, she will be.  Lisa does an amazing job of ending the book on a redemptive and hopeful note. Thank you Lisa for reminding us that though awful things happen, there is hope in this world. –M.V.

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