Before We Were Yours Book Review: A Heartbreaking Tale of Family and Resilience
Lisa Wingate’s novel, Before We Were Yours, takes readers on an emotional journey through the lives of two families, separated by time but connected through a devastating secret. This gripping tale, based on true events, delves into the dark history of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and highlights the strength and resilience of those affected by its cruel practices. With its compelling characters and powerful storytelling, Before We Were Yours is a must-read for anyone seeking a poignant exploration of family, love, and the pursuit of truth.
Set in Memphis during the 1930s, the novel introduces us to twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her siblings, who are snatched from their shantyboat home on the Mississippi River and thrown into the heart-wrenching world of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Separated from their parents, they endure unimaginable hardships and abuse at the hands of the ruthless director, Georgia Tann, and her network of corrupt officials. Rill’s story is paralleled with that of Avery Stafford, a successful lawyer and daughter of a prominent politician, who stumbles upon a family secret that leads her to uncover the truth about her grandmother’s past.
Wingate’s writing is both evocative and captivating, seamlessly weaving together the narratives of Rill and Avery. The vivid descriptions of the settings transport readers to the banks of the Mississippi River and the opulent mansions of South Carolina, immersing them in the contrasting worlds of poverty and privilege. The author handles the delicate subject matter with sensitivity, giving voice to the voiceless and shedding light on a dark chapter of American history.
One of the unique aspects of Before We Were Yours is the exploration of family bonds and the enduring power of love. Despite the harrowing circumstances, Rill’s unwavering determination to protect her siblings and find her way back to them is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. This theme resonates throughout the novel, reminding us of the importance of family and the lengths we would go to for those we hold dear.
Here are five unique facts about Before We Were Yours:
1. The Tennessee Children’s Home Society was a real organization that operated from the 1920s to the 1950s, kidnapping and selling children for profit. Lisa Wingate’s novel sheds light on this little-known piece of history.
2. Before We Were Yours spent over a year on The New York Times Best Seller list and has been translated into multiple languages, captivating readers around the world.
3. The character of Avery Stafford is loosely based on the author’s own grandmother, who was adopted as a child.
4. Lisa Wingate conducted extensive research for the novel, interviewing survivors of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and gathering information from historical records.
5. Before We Were Yours has been praised for its authenticity and historical accuracy, presenting a compelling fictional account while staying true to the facts.
Now, let’s address some frequently asked questions about Before We Were Yours:
1. Is Before We Were Yours a true story?
While the novel is based on real events and organizations, the characters and specific incidents are fictional. It serves as a fictionalized account of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society’s activities.
2. Is Before We Were Yours suitable for young readers?
The novel deals with mature themes and includes scenes of abuse, making it more suitable for mature teenagers and adult readers.
3. Does the book have a happy ending?
The ending of Before We Were Yours is bittersweet, offering hope and closure while acknowledging the lasting impact of the events.
4. Is this book part of a series?
No, Before We Were Yours is a standalone novel.
5. How accurate is the historical information in the book?
Lisa Wingate extensively researched the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and its practices to ensure the historical accuracy of the novel.
6. What makes Before We Were Yours different from other historical fiction novels?
This book stands out due to its exploration of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a lesser-known aspect of American history, and its powerful portrayal of the enduring bonds of family.
7. Can I read Before We Were Yours if I’m sensitive to disturbing content?
While the novel does contain disturbing elements, the author handles them with sensitivity. However, readers who are particularly sensitive may find some scenes difficult to read.
8. How does the dual narrative structure enhance the story?
The dual narratives of Rill and Avery provide different perspectives and allow readers to understand the impact of the events on multiple generations.
9. Is Before We Were Yours a tearjerker?
The novel is undeniably emotional and may bring tears to your eyes, but it also offers moments of hope and resilience.
10. Are there any trigger warnings for this book?
Readers should be aware that the novel contains scenes of child abuse and mistreatment.
11. Does Before We Were Yours have a strong sense of place?
Yes, the author’s vivid descriptions bring the settings to life, transporting readers to the Mississippi River and the affluent neighborhoods of South Carolina.
12. Does this book address any social issues?
Before We Were Yours raises important themes such as child trafficking, abuse of power, and the importance of family.
13. Can I learn more about the real Tennessee Children’s Home Society after reading this book?
Absolutely! Before We Were Yours provides a starting point for further exploration into the real-life events and the organization’s impact on countless families.