Book Review: Before We Were Yours By Lisa Wingate

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A diverse cast of characters tug at your heart as you’re plunged into life on the Mississippi River in Before We Were Yours. Written by Lisa Wingate,  this is a fiction book that centers around the systematic kidnapping and sale of poor children by a Tennessee-based adoption agency in 1939. This sordid detail is actually based on the long history of corruption in the adoption system lead by Georgia Tann.



The book is told from the perspective of two characters in two different time periods. Avery Stafford is a successful woman in modern day South Carolina. Rill Foss is a 12 year old girl living on a shanty boat on the Mississippi River in 1939.

Before We Were Yours raises the question of do family secrets help or hurt. Also how many generations does it take for the effects of trauma to work its way out? I felt there was a lot of shame that lasted for the characters over things that were completely out of their control. Those without financial resources were at such a disadvantage and were easily exploited. I want to think that this is could no longer be an issue in this country but I know it is. The whole idea of being separated from your family and not being able to do anything about it is terrifying.  

I enjoyed every bit of this book. Rill and Avery have very different voices. Rill paints amazing pictures of life around her. I was able to picture, feel, and smell everything. Don’t fear though, it isn’t overly wordy with paragraphs dedicated to describing the sunset. Avery is much more practical and grounded in reality but also enjoyable.

The fact that this book is incorporated real events totally peaked my interest. I went and looked up shanty boats. I looked up the Georgia Tann scandal. I wanted to know more as soon as I was finished with the book. There was so much about Depression Era America that I didn’t know about.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest it rated the following:

Laughs: 1

Tears: 3

Cheese: 2

Predictability: 2

Overall: 4/5

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I would definitely recommend it for a book club.  It is definitely a book worth discussing. Click here to get your copy of Before We Were Yours

Currently reading: I, Eliza Hamilton

Currently Listening to the podcast: Missing and Murdered Season 2: Finding Cleo

Before We Were Yours

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  • Heather March 23, 2018 12.50 am

    I love historical fiction books like this! I always learn about something in history I knew nothing about, and it inspires me to learn more.

    • Emily March 23, 2018 02.16 am

      I am also a huge fan of historical fiction.

  • Jordan | Read. Eat. Repeat. March 23, 2018 02.19 am

    I’ve thought about picking this one up a few times but I always pass it by because I’m afraid it will upset me as a mama. The thought of those children breaks my heart because it’s based true events!

    • Emily March 23, 2018 02.43 am

      I was definitely worried about that too. I almost always cry during books, but this one didn’t make me. I think it was maybe the setting where I was reading, so I kept it bottled up. The potential is there though.

  • Brittney March 23, 2018 09.27 am

    I’ve been looking for a new book to read.. will definitely have to check this out!

    • Emily March 23, 2018 02.42 pm

      I really enjoyed it.

  • Cheri March 23, 2018 11.28 am

    I love and hate books like this. They are so interesting but so heart breaking. I’m adding this to my list to read!

    • Emily March 23, 2018 02.43 pm

      I know. I have to be emotionally read for them.

  • Cathy March 23, 2018 01.28 pm

    I have not heard of this book before! I am always looking for good books to add to my monthly reading list. I may just have to check this one out. 🙂

    • Emily March 23, 2018 02.43 pm

      I hadn’t either but it kept coming up as a suggested read for me.

  • Theresa Bailey March 23, 2018 06.23 pm

    Very interesting topic as far as family secrets. I think they usually cause all the drama for the story.

  • Madison Weaver March 23, 2018 09.22 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful book! I’m not a big reader, but I need to check this out.

  • Caroline March 23, 2018 11.05 pm

    I’m always looking for good summer reading. Adding this to my list!

  • Adriana March 24, 2018 04.16 am

    This sounds really good. I have been on the hunt for a good read and this one might be it!

  • Nayantara Hegde March 24, 2018 10.01 am

    This sounds like a vry interesting book. And for you to have painted such vivid pictures I am sure the author did a great job.

  • Margaret Smith March 24, 2018 01.53 pm

    I love historical fiction. It makes you feel such a part of the time. I’ll have to add this book to my book list.

  • Elizabeth O March 24, 2018 06.15 pm

    I am glad you enjoyed this book. 4/5 is a lovely review. I enjoy books that are based on real life.

  • Luci March 24, 2018 10.26 pm

    It sounds like an interesting book. I also like to read books that do have some historical events with a fiction movie.

  • Ice Cream n Sticky Fingers March 25, 2018 02.02 am

    This sounds like my kind of book. Im looking for something new to read as soon as I finish my current read. I can’t wait to read it.

  • Lynn Winter March 25, 2018 02.42 am

    Loved this book. I could not put it down. I love a good historical fiction and this hit the spot.

  • shannon March 25, 2018 03.29 am

    I am a fan of historical fiction and love a good book. I will add this to my reading list thank you for the suggestion.

  • Melinda March 25, 2018 06.58 pm

    I love when I find a book that is so intriguing that I can’t help but research it after I’m done reading! What an awful but captivating story and I like the sound of the way it’s told, especially no paragraphs describing the sunset 😄 Thanks for this recommendation! I just finished a book yesterday and I’m looking for my next read.

  • Jennifer Prince March 26, 2018 12.31 am

    Wow! I love historical fiction, and I had no idea that things like this happened. I feel so bad for the kids, but it looks like a great read! 🙂

  • Esme Sy March 26, 2018 12.44 am

    This does sound like it’ll be good for a book club session. I’m no part of anything but I’d definitely take a look at the roles of the two perspectives. Sometimes, fiction is the only way to explain reality.

  • Noelle Lynne March 26, 2018 05.52 am

    Always love hearing about new books, and this one sounds great! Going to add it to my amazon cart (keep a lot of books that I want to read in there).

  • Alina March 26, 2018 07.58 am

    It sounds like an interesting read, I have very little knowledge of the topic and I like that it had an educational aspect, referring to real life events. Thank you for recommendation, will check it out.

  • Ashley | Honey & Pine March 26, 2018 03.43 pm

    This sounds like such a tear-jerker!

  • Karlyn Cruz March 26, 2018 03.55 pm

    This book sounds really interesting. I often think those who are more financially comfortable tend to have more options. It seems that they don’t. I love books that are so thought provoking. Definitely gonna check it out!

  • Meagan March 27, 2018 07.49 pm

    This sounds like my kinda book so I just added it to my list. Thank you!

  • Hema March 28, 2018 05.09 am

    I love reading historical fiction books, i was looking for something new, will give this book a try. I can’t wait to read it.

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