Friday Reads: Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate

I’ll be honest right off the bat here–I resisted reading this book for a very long time–almost 5 years to be exact. Even though it’s been very popular, as an adoptee, I tend to shy away from stories about adoption. Not because my own adoption was bad, but because I’ve heard stories and know some adoptees personally, whose lives did not turn out as well as mine.

That being said, Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, is powerful, well-written, and based on one of America’s most notorious real-life adoption scandals. It is a story of families torn apart, but sometimes, in the end, brought together again.

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 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 to redemption.

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.

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