Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

A Novel

Book - 2017 | First edition
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Memphis, Tennessee, 1936. The five Foss children find their lives changed forever when their parents leave them alone on the family shantyboat one stormy night. Rill Foss, just twelve years old, must protect her four younger siblings as they are wrenched from their home on the Mississippi and thrown into the care of the infamous Georgia Tann, director of the Tennessee Children's Home Society. South Carolina, present day. Avery Stafford has lived a charmed life. Loving daughter to her father, a U.S. Senator, she has a promising career as an assistant D.A. in Baltimore and is engaged to her best friend. But when Avery comes home to help her father weather a health crisis and a political attack, a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her deeply shaken. Avery's decision to learn more about the woman's life will take her on a journey through her family's long-hidden history. 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.
Publisher: New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780425284681
Branch Call Number: FIC Wing
Characteristics: 342 pages ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 10, 2020

I love a story that grips me from the beginning. It's a sad story but it's about history I never heard about before. I've found a new author to check out other of her books. I really enjoyed this!

Feb 03, 2020

I did not care for the book at all. I dislike books that so obviously manipulate the reader. You know what the ending will likely be from the beginning, but keep reading to see how it comes about. And the major question one is trying to answer is never fully resolved.

Jan 17, 2020

"A powerful tale of family, of sisters, of secrets kept and secrets shared"...of white people in 1939?

FPL_SheriS Jan 13, 2020

Wonderfully crafted historical fiction exploring historic and current issues. Lisa Wingate develops charming characters that withstand horrific events, and while not glossing over the damage done manages to build a story of hope.

Jan 09, 2020

Sad to read this ficticious account of a sad chapter in American history, that is similar to Canadian residential schools ripping children from their families. Luckily Wingate is an excellent author to make this story flow so warmly as we delve into the intertwined lives of several people.

Nov 22, 2019

This was such a great book...very well written...had a hard time putting the book down.

mazinwhistler Oct 29, 2019

So I will be honest that the cover of this book did not appeal to me at all (I think it is the font that title is in) and for this reason I nearly didn't bother with it but a colleague had recommended it so I decided to give it a go. And, boy I am so glad I did. This book is amazing! Wingate has a delightful way with words and the story, whilst fiction is based on her research regarding the topic. If you are in for a tearjerker this is the book for you!

FPL_John Oct 28, 2019

This was a very moving book. Although fiction, it's based on actual events. From the beginning you think you know what's going on, but as the book proceeds you realize that there is much more going on than you realize. This is a chapter in our history that doesn't make it into the textbooks, but I was fascinated. I had no idea that all these things had happened. The book is well written and the story is engrossing.

Oct 21, 2019

Years ago, our book club read a book about children that were taken from women and families who were arrested as dissidents in Argentina during the 1970s and 1980s and given to childless military or wealthy pro-government couples. We were all horrified. Now, we know that even without a “militant” or fascist government, this was going on in the U.S. which makes it more shocking because it happened right under our noses and, with the approval of so many active community elders. Lisa Wingate writes a heartbreaking but valuable story about an ugly part of our culture and community. Excellent book discussion book.

Sep 23, 2019

Great story. Four children living on a shanty boat are taken from their parents and put into an orphanage to be sold to rich clients. Abuse and tearing family apart. Current times cross paths with the past.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Jun 17, 2019

"No matter how much we may love the melody of a bygone day or imagine the song of a future one, we must dance within the music of today, or we will always be out of step, stumbling around in something that doesn't suit the moment."

Oct 12, 2018

“We plan our days, but we don’t control them.” - p. 95

Oct 12, 2018

“The argument ends where all arguments do—on the altar of compromise.” - p. 255

Oct 12, 2018

“I learned that you need not be born into a family to be loved by one.” - p. 314

Oct 12, 2018

“A woman’s past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she
chooses. Her own music. - p. 317

ArapahoeMaryA Jun 13, 2017

I clench my teeth so hard the pain travels all the way to the top of my head. I'm glad for it - it's just a little ache and I know where it comes from. I can stop it anytime I want. The one in my heart is way bigger. I can't fix it no matter how hard I try. It scares me so much that I can't even breathe.

"…the love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat; it is as ever present as a pulse.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Jan 20, 2018

Mya614 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Sep 26, 2017

BRUCE PILCHER thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at NWPL

To Top