Before-We-Were-Yours-Cover-Web-Res-198x300I don’t know if this is a normal thing for prolific readers, but once I finish a book I often have a hard time remembering the details. If I don’t write a review within the first few days, the details are forgotten to me and I can only remember bits and pieces. It’s the rare and very special book that stays with me long past the time I turned the last page and, when one does, I add it to my list of “Best Ever Reads.”  BEFORE WE WERE YOURS is the newest addition to my list of “Best Ever Reads.”

As I frequently do, I picked this book up based strictly upon the title and cover, knowing nothing at all about the storyline. It was a surprise, then, to not only like this book but love every page of it.

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS tells the story of five siblings in Tennessee, stolen from their poor, riverboat-dwelling parents, and placed in a skeevy orphanage where the proprieter makes personal profit off of the “sale” of each orphan into adopted families. Inspired by true events, the children are homed in the  Tennessee Children’s Home Society under the “care” of Georgia Tann. I use the term “care” liberally here because these children were not given love and care; instead, they were renamed, mistreated, abused, and sold for profit — all under the noses of local government, which may well have been not only complicit but equally as guilty in the sale of children.

The main character is 12 year-old Rill Foss. She and her younger siblings live an ideal life on a riverboat with their parents until one night when her mother goes into a difficult labor and is taken to a nearby hospital to give birth. Shortly thereafter, Rill and her younger sibling are abducted by local law enforcement and dropped into the care of  Georgia Tann. Despite her best efforts, Rill is unable to keep her siblings together until their father can come for them, as one disappears and others are give away right under her nose, tearing their once close family apart.

The synopsis reads like a depressing story, but there’s a lot of hope, too; and the historical  elements are written so well that one forgets that the novel is based upon a true story. There’s even a bit of mystery and intrigue as the novel comes to a close and finishes full-circle.

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS is not only an excellent read, but it would be a terrific choice for book clubs as there’s just so much to discuss! If I could give this book more than 5-stars, I would; but as I’m limited in this realm, I give this novel a full 5-stars and add it to my list of “Best Ever Reads.”


Released June 6, 2017
by Ballantine Books
Synopsis taken from


For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale—an engross- ing new novel, inspired by a true story, about two families, gen- erations apart, that are forever changed by a heartbreaking in- justice.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger sib- lings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shan- tyboat. 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 Tennes- see Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are as- sured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the fa- cility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother to- gether—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 fiancé, 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 redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption or- ganization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy fami- lies all over the country—Before We Were Yours brilliantly fic- tionalizes and brings to life one of America’s most notorious scandals.

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