Avery, from a prominent South Carolina political family, is haunted by a nursing home resident, May, who seem to find her familiar. Bridging between 1939 and contemporary times, Avery discovers another stain upon American history, as she delves into May's story. May, originally Rilla, is the oldest of Briny and Queeny's 5 children, when the Memphis Tennessee Children's Home Society under the direction of Georgia Tann steals the kids. The plan making Tann wealthy is to gravely mistreat the young ones and then sell them at exorbitant prices to wealthy clients. A mystery, many untold horrors of the children abducted spill from this authentically told novel, as answers are unveiled to bring these strong characters peace in knowing who they really are!
— From Jane
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a "thought-provoking and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal."*
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge--until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents--but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility's cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fianc , and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.
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--Lisa Wingate's riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.
*Library Journal Praise for Before We Were Yours
"A story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets." --People
"Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you'll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann's legacy." --Parade
"One of the year's best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel." --The Huffington Post
"Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation's history and weaves a tale of enduring power." --Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun