About the book: (from the publisher) 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.
About the author: Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and bestselling author of more than twenty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, The Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Booklovers Reviewer’s Choice Award.
The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with six others as recipients of the National Civics Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Booklist summed up her work by saying, “Lisa Wingate is, quite simply, a master storyteller.”
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary-Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction/Book Club
Especially recommended for: fans of Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train and Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home.Exquisite summer reading from the incomparable @LisaWingate. Highly recommended.… Click To Tweet
My take: Before We Were Yours — the latest from the always winsome Lisa Wingate — is, in my humble opinion, quite simply her best one yet. Which is saying something because Lisa’s novels have routinely earned my high praise (see here and here). But this one surges to the very top of my list. I adored this novel. Gripping, poignant, and flawlessly executed, it’s a story to keep tucked close to the heart.
Before We Were Yours lured me in with its lovely cover and intriguing premise, then left me with a heart brimming with emotion. And in between, Lisa’s exquisite prose, skillful plotting, and perfect pacing kept me enthralled from first page to last. Her characters were expertly crafted, marvelously complex — both the good and the bad — and their stories were ones I couldn’t wait to return to time and again. Before We Were Yours is a perfectly pitched melody without a single false note. I looked up from the last page, stunned and moved once again by the power of story — and by this story in particular that so perfectly rendered a moving portrait of beauty celebrated amidst great brokenness.
A highly recommended read for summer — or anytime.
Thanks to She Reads and Ballantine Books for providing me this book free of charge. All opinions are mine.
Before We Were Yours is a She Reads Book Club summer selection.
After words: What other novels by Lisa Wingate have you read?