Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
A review by Richard McGee
This story is told from the point of view of two people, separated by age, time, and economic class. Rill is twelve years old and the oldest of five children living with their parents on a Mississippi River shanty boat. Her father must take her mother to the hospital and Rill is left in charge with her siblings. A group of men grab the children from the boat and they are placed in a Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage. At first the children are told they soon will be rejoined with their parents, but the children grow to realize that is a lie.
Avery is in a wealthy family in South Carolina and has left her job as a US Attorney to help her dad get re-elected to the US Senate. She is a smart and politically astute woman destined to follow her dad to elected office. In a chance meeting, she discovers a secret involving her grandmother and decides to investigate to learn the details of the secret. Her search eventually uncovers the truth of the ties between her family and the orphan children seventy years before.
The scandal of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society that stole children from impoverished families and sold them to wealthy powerful clients around the country is a true story. The story of Rill and her siblings is a fictional composite drawn from the accounts of actual children taken into the orphanages.
The story is an emotional pull that will have you continually turning pages to discover the outcome of characters you have come to love. I highly recommend it.