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A poignant novel inspired by a true story

Stephanie Sutcliffe

Book: Before We Were Yours

Author: Lisa Wingate

An unforgettable and compelling read, Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is masterfully written and unites two distinct stories and characters that are generations apart.

This is a heart-wrenching story that is all the more disturbing as it is based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals, in which the director of an adoption organisation kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country.

The Tennessee Children’s Society no longer exists but during its operation more than 1,500 children were kidnapped and illegally adopted.

Before We Were Yours confronts the reader with a dark point in history and takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions as you are introduced to two very different stories; one set in 1939 and the other in the present.

Knowing the background of the storyline before reading it makes the first few pages even more captivating, as the reader is introduced to Rill Foss and her siblings who live an idyllic life aboard a riverboat with their parents.

Although the family have little money, they express love for each other in abundance and as a reader it is easy to immerse yourself in the happiness of this family.

However, their lives are forever changed when the mother is rushed to hospital one evening and the children are left alone at home, which is when they are taken and sold to the frightful children’s home.

Knowing that the children would inevitably be split up, despite Rill’s determination to keep them together kept me reading for hours as I felt a sense of urgency to establish what would happen to each of them.

The reader is also introduced to Avery Stafford in a storyline that is set decades later.

Avery has led a wealthy life as the daughter of a Senator, who during a chance encounter in a nursing home uncovers a world of secrets that her family can no longer keep from her.

Although I didn’t find her part as riveting as the Foss family storyline, I understand why it was important for the author to portray this side of the story as it offers readers a full circle view of people’s lives as a direct result of the actions of the children’s home director.

I highly recommend adding this book to your reading list.

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