Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

About the book (Good Reads)

This was Good Reads reader’s choice of 2017 and without a doubt it deserves to be. A very emotional story about two families, generations apart whose lives are forever changes by an injustice detailed in this novel.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shanty boat. 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.


The story alternates between Rill Foss and her siblings and present day Avery Stafford. Between the two story lines, Rill Foss’s story is more captivating for me. I am really enthralled by historical fiction so Rill’s story drew me in from the beginning. I loved her character and how it was consistently developed throughout the book. Her strong personality and her ability to try as much as possible to bring her family together really made me love her.

One of the most underlying themes that dominated the story line is adoption. I haven’t personally experienced adoption in my family, however I have a few friends who have adopted children. There process to get these children has been long and contrary to the Foss children their experience has been better. In my view, the adoption of the Foss children bordered human trafficking because they were taken against their will and at some point the parents were forced into releasing their children for adoption.

This practice still happens in Kenya too. Recently in the news was a story of a cartel that traffics children for adoption abroad. One social worker stated that before a child is moved out of the country for adoption, it means other avenues locally have proved fruitless which in most cases is not so.

See full story below:

I am glad that at some point the Ross sisters were reunited, it was so unfair for them to be separated because it affected their decisions in terms of relationships with their extended families. It would seem that Queenie and Brinney’s life at the Arcadia was unsustainable I wonder though had they not been forcefully taken from their original home, would they be who they were in the present time? These are aspects of the book that I loved because they left you thinking and wondering what would have been.

As for the present day narrative of Avery, I still loved this part of the story because of the romantic nuances between Avery and Trent. Avery met as she was in the process of getting information of her granny’s past. I was rooting for these two and I would have wished that they ended up together as a couple. I wonder how it ended up for them though, the author left this part of the story to our imagination.

Below are some of the excerpts that stood out for me:

“Life is not unlike cinema. Each scene has its own music, and the music is created for the scene, wven to it in ways we do not understand. No matter how much we may 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.”

”A woman’s past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she chooses. Her own music. To hear the tune, she must only stop talking. To herself, I mean. We’re always trying to persuade ourselves of things

4 thoughts on “Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

  1. Oh Oh I have this one. But haven’t gotten around to read this yet. Your review has given me the push to pick this one soon.

    And welcome and thanks for joining the Bloggers’ Comment Junction hosted in my blog. Hope you make new blog friends through commenting and have fun visiting new blogs.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: