Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate grabbed me from the moment I started reading this book. Actually, even before that, when I looked at the beautiful little girls on the cover and wanted to know their story.
The story starts out in Memphis in 1939 when 12 year old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings are waiting for their mother to give birth to another sibling on their little shantyboat. Only something goes wrong with the birthing and their mama has to go to the hospital. Little do they know that they not only won't get to see their new sibling, they won't get to see their parents either. Strangers come and take Rill and her siblings away to the infamous Memphis Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage run by Georgia Tann. Will they ever see their parents again?
We also read the story of Avery Stafford in Aiken, South Carolina. Avery is the daughter of a State Senator and born into wealth and privilege. She is spending time with her father and family as he weathers a health crisis and taking a break from her successful job as a lawyer and a prosecutor. Avery has a chance encounter with May Crandall that compels her to learn more about May and takes her on a life-changing journey.
The stories of Rill and Avery are fictional but Before We Were Yours is also based on a true-life scandal. I don't want to reveal much more and give the story away. However, I will say that this book touched my heart, and I ache for those touched by the real-life scandal, along with the characters in Wingate's new book that will release on June 6, 2017. Some parts of this book were difficult to read quite honestly. But real life has some parts that aren't pretty to look at, doesn't it?
I have read several of Wingate's books and they are all well-written tales. Before They Were Yours is not only well-written, but it will leave you feeling like you are living these stories right along with the characters feeling their pain and their joys. Some parts of this book were difficult to read quite honestly because of the hard things the characters faced. However, I also emerged wanting justice for all of those families who lived through this awful stretch of history. I highly recommend it. It will touch your heart like few other books have. This is a story that will stick with me for a long, long while. I would encourage you to pre-order your copy of Before They Were Yours today.
I was privileged to read an advanced reader copy of this book through Lisa Wingate's Sisterhood of the Traveling Books group.