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:
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