THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT—A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller
For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*
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.
Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017 • Winner of the Southern Book Prize • If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection
“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.”—People
“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”—Parade
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours is a dazzling piece of historical fiction that lays bare the sinister work of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and its decades-long legacy of kidnapping and illegal adoptions. Wingate deploys dual storylines—one current, one set in the 1930s—to create a captivating, devastating portrait of one family’s reckoning with years of lies, shame, and long-buried secrets.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I literally could not put it down. Truly magical and brilliant writing.
Beautifully written history we should all know about
I thought I would be reading an intriguing novel of loss, sorrow, and reunited sisters with historical context, I got that, but what I didn't know is I would learn of real horrors that befell thousands of children and parents in Tennessee and beyond over the course of 25 years at the hand of Georgia Tann. This is a story that had to be told in a fact-based novel to spread awareness of the baby selling and theft that went on for so long in our "free" country. Lisa Wingate does a beautiful job bringing each character to life, no matter the era or age as she moves from 1940s to present.. The mystery introduced in the first pages is slowly brought to clarity in a lovely story that brings so much sweet to a bitter story of loss, abuse, unconditional love and the true power of the human spirit. High praise for Wingate for having the courage to tell this story, when so many who it was written about could not.
Heartbreaking beautifully written story.