I don’t know why or how it took me as long as it did to read this book but I am so glad I finally did! Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a remarkable historical fiction read based on true events surrounding the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in the 1930s-50s.
The Foss family are called ‘river rats’, living on a shanty boat along the Mississippi river with four young children and twins on the way. When parents Queenie and Briny are rushed to the hospital in order to save Queenie and the twins during a complicated labor, Rill the oldest of the children must watch over the boat. When strangers approach the children, coaxing them by telling them their parents want to see them at the hospital, none of them have any idea they are being kidnapped and taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.
Run by real-life Georgia Tann, the home is advertised as rescuing poor and neglected children from unloving and abusive homes and adopting them into wealthy families who can provide for them in the ways they deserve. The catch? The children are actually neglected and abused IN the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Georgia and her workers and most often were taken from loving families who despite being poor, loved and cared for them.
Before We Were Yours is a heartbreaking fictional story surrounding real events. While the Foss family is fictional, their story and experiences are based on real survivors of the Tennessee Children’s Society. I was amazed that this piece of history occurred in our nation. And I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t aware until reading this book. This is the type of book that will educate and inspire you to want to learn more. Wingate is coming out with a nonfiction novel in the fall called Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. You can bet I’ll be buying this book the day it is published!
This gem of a book is a prime example of my love for historical fiction. With every book I read, I take so much information and knowledge with me. Before We Were Yours is heartbreaking, emotional and incredibly eye-opening to a dark and tumultuous time in our country.