Before We Were Yours reveals the disturbing story of Georgia Tann and the lives she affected.
This novel leaves a deep impression. It isn’t a book to rush through, but you won’t want to set it down. Readers become aware of a historical crime and how wicked someone can be. One also notices the resilience of the human spirit and the power of persistence. One message is that no matter what happens in your life, you will shine the best if you remain true to who you really are. Another is that love endures even through separation.
During the 1930’s and 40’s, Georgia Tann and the Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society kidnapped, tortured, and murdered innocent children and caused unfathomable anguish for the poor parents who lost their children to a corrupt system. Tann was selling the children to rich parents, often taking advantage of them as well. I was unaware of this reign of terror until I read this haunting novel by Lisa Wingate. Before We Were Yours was published in 2017 by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House.
The story of this social injustice is tastefully presented. I believe it could become a classic, studied in literature classes along with Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck. The tale is riveting and poses many discussion questions and times for reflection and comparison to current events, such as the human trafficking problem.
The book is like a mystery since the story is told through the eyes of Rill Foss/May Crandall and Avery Stafford. The reader tries to figure out how the stories of these people come together and why. Will the children be saved? Will they ever see each other again? This is the kind of novel that you think about when you aren’t reading it, and when you are done, you continue to think about it.
Since the story is written in present tense, the reader experiences what the characters experience. Wingate’s writing captures the tension and fears of the children, the helplessness, and the desire to escape with as many as you can take with you. Because of this immersion, we also experience surprise and relief.
I waited a very long time to borrow a copy from the library, but you may also purchase this book at this link: https://www.amazon.com/s?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=before+we+were+yours+lisa+wingate&sprefix=Before+W%2Caps%2C271&crid=CWVXVEM3BNQI
I recommend this novel and hope you will enjoy it as well.