Before We Were Yours Book Summary

A Novel

by Lisa Wingate4


'Before We Were Yours' by Lisa Wingate is a gripping novel that intertwines the 1939 story of Rill Foss and her siblings' abduction by a notorious adoption agency with a present-day journey of discovery by Avery Stafford, revealing long-hidden family secrets.

What is Before We Were Yours about

'Before We Were Yours' is a historical fiction novel that weaves together two timelines: Memphis in 1939 and present-day Aiken, South Carolina. In 1939, 12-year-old Rill Foss and her siblings are living on a shantyboat when they are forcibly taken to the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage. Here, they face harsh conditions and the real threat of never seeing their family again. Meanwhile, in the present day, Avery Stafford, a successful federal prosecutor, uncovers unsettling questions about her family's past when she returns home to deal with her father's health crisis. The novel is based on the real-life scandal of Georgia Tann, who kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families. Through these intertwined stories, Wingate explores themes of family, identity, and the quest for justice.

Before We Were Yours 5 Key Takeaways

Rill Foss and her siblings are taken to an orphanage

The Foss siblings live a magical life on their shantyboat until their mother needs emergency medical attention. Left alone, Rill and her siblings are forcibly taken to the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, where they must endure cruel conditions.

Avery Stafford uncovers family secrets

In present-day Aiken, South Carolina, Avery Stafford returns home to help her father and begins to uncover unsettling questions about her family's history. Her journey leads her to discover the connection to the Foss children and the dark past involving Georgia Tann.

The struggle to stay together

While at the orphanage, Rill fights to keep her siblings together amidst the harsh treatment and uncertainty. The children face numerous challenges and the constant threat of being separated and adopted out to different families.

Avery's journey of discovery

Avery's investigation into her family's past takes her on a path that reveals the hidden history of the Foss children. Her findings lead to emotional revelations and the unveiling of long-buried family secrets.

Reconnecting with the past

As Avery uncovers the truth, she connects with individuals who help piece together the history of the Foss children. This journey brings to light the injustices faced by the children and offers a chance for redemption and healing for their descendants.

Before We Were Yours Best Reviews

  • “Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.”—Paula McLain
  • “Poignant, engrossing.”—People
  • “Riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting.”—Publishers Weekly

Top Before We Were Yours Quotes

  • “But the heart never forgets where we belong.”
  • “You needn't be afraid of the dark when the moon is your companion.”

Who should read Before We Were Yours?

'Before We Were Yours' is ideal for readers who enjoy historical fiction with rich, intertwining narratives. Those interested in stories about family secrets, resilience, and the quest for justice will find this novel particularly compelling. It is also suitable for adult readers looking for an emotionally gripping tale based on real historical events.

About the Author

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels. Her works have received numerous awards, including the Southern Book Prize and the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. Her novels 'The Book of Lost Friends' and 'Before We Were Yours' highlight her ability to bring historical events to life with emotional depth and compelling storytelling.

Before We Were Yours FAQs

What is the book 'Before We Were Yours' about?

'Before We Were Yours' is about the abduction of the Foss siblings by the Tennessee Children's Home Society in 1939 and a present-day journey by Avery Stafford to uncover her family's hidden past.

What is the central idea of 'Before We Were Yours'?

The central idea is the enduring power of family and the importance of fighting for truth and justice.

Is the movie 'Before We Were Yours' based on a true story?

'Before We Were Yours,' inspired by true events, fictionalizes the story of Rill Foss and the notorious child trafficking conducted by Georgia Tann in Tennessee.