Before We Were Yours
Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. 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 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—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.

Before We Were Yours Details

Book TitleBefore We Were Yours
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Before We Were Yours Reviews

  • Jennifer
    Jun 18, 2017


    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review4 starsBefore we were yours is based on actual events, but is a work of fiction. It is a powerful story of 2 families connected by the inhumane acts of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. This is family drama a...

  • Staci
    Jun 18, 2017


    I have a new favorite Lisa Wingate novel! It was previously The Prayer Box.In Before We Were Yours, there are dual time periods. The events that occurred in the 1930s and the present day story line were equally compelling.This fictional tale is based upon events that occurred at the Te...

  • Susanne Strong
    Jun 11, 2017

    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 i...

  • Angela M
    Jun 6, 2017

    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 men...

  • Diane S ☔
    Jun 6, 2017

    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 nove...

  • Donna
    Jun 6, 2017


    This was definitely between 4 & 5 stars, but the simple fact, I would read this one again, I don't mind rounding up.The writing has me crushing on the author. It was thoughtful and descriptive. I liked that she wrote things that had me saying, "Yes. Beautiful." But I will also say,...

  • Susan Johnson
    Jun 4, 2017

    Susan Johnson

    This book tells the shameful story of the Tennessee Children's Home Society which is still untangling the legal and fraudulent adoptions that occurred from the 1920's-1950's. It tells the horrible story through a fictional family of river rats that were illegally taken from their pare...

  • Donna Davis
    Jun 4, 2017

    Donna Davis

    Lisa Wingate is an established author, but she is new to me. I received this DRC free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine; it is available to the public Tuesday, June 6, 2017. And although I would love to tell you to run out and buy it right now, in all honesty ...

  • Carol
    May 27, 2017


    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 ...

  • Judy Collins
    May 25, 2017

    Judy Collins

    WOW!! Move this one to the "top" of your reading list! Review to follow. ...