Second Tuesday Book Club will meet in-person from 7 to 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, February 8, in the program room at Schimelpfenig Library, for our discussion of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours. We will observe careful social distancing, with face coverings recommended. Please email Cathe Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or comments. See you at Schimelpfenig Library on Tuesday!
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
“From the 1920s through 1950, thousands of children of single mothers and poverty-stricken parents were taken away — sometimes even quietly whisked off front porches or from hospital maternity wards — by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and its Memphis branch director, Georgia Tann. While heartbroken birth mothers searched for their stolen sons and daughters, the children were often kept in unlicensed boarding facilities and given new names and histories before being advertised for adoption to families who could afford to pay. Before We Were Yours tells the stories of the children, through twelve-year-old Rill Foss, stolen from her family’s Mississippi River shanty boat with her four young siblings in 1936 and held in an orphan house where uncertainty and danger wait around every corner ” – from Lisa Wingate‘s website.
South Carolina, present day. Avery Stafford has lived a charmed life. Loving daughter to her father, a U.S. Senator, she has a promising career as an assistant D.A. in Baltimore and is engaged to her best friend. But when Avery comes home to help her father weather a health crisis and a political attack, a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her deeply shaken. Avery’s decision to learn more about the woman’s life will take her on an astonishing journey through her family’s long-hidden history.
With Judy Christie, Ms. Wingate has written a nonfiction sequel to her novel called Before and After, which tells the true story of the children of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. It is available in Large Print | eBook.
Novelist Paula McLain (The Paris Wife, Circling the Sun) comments, “Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power. That Georgia Tann and her Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society could actually exist, unraveling the lives of countless children, stealing their pasts and changing their futures, will give you chills. But the real feat of this stirring novel is how deeply Wingate plunges us into the heart and mind of twelve-year-old river gypsy Rill Foss. Rill’s utterly singular voice will stay with you long after the last page is turned. Vivid and affecting.”
Writing in Parade, Tamra Bolton calls Before We Were Yours “one of the most compelling novels of the year,” adding that “this horrible chapter in our nation’s history has been explored, but until now, the story hasn’t been told from a child’s perspective in detail. Enter author Lisa Wingate and her compelling fictional account of Rill Foss, a 12-year-old girl who is happily living on her riverboat home on the Delta with her family until Georgia Tann rips their home apart. Following Rill and the heart-rending story of her trek to reconnect with her past and make peace with the injustices she and her family have endured makes this one of the summer’s best reads. Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”
North Texas resident Lisa Wingate is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of more than thirty novels. Her award-winning works have been selected for state and community One Book reads throughout the country, have been published in over forty languages, and have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide.
On her website, lisawingate.com, she notes that she is lucky to have married into the big, storytelling Wingate clan, and to be the mother of two sons. She adds, “I have loved and treasured the moments spent in the ‘world’ of each book. Each story begins with an inspiration from life, and after that, the writing is a journey of discovery. I never know where the story will go, or how it will end, or who the characters will become, until the last words are written.”