Title: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication date: 30th November 2017
My rating: ★★★☆☆
Based on a real-life story of one of the greatest adoption scandals, Before We Were Yours unravels the tale of Rill Foss and her younger siblings who were ruthlessly kidnapped and thrown into the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage only to later be sold to wealthy families. In present day South Carolina, we follow the emotional journey of Avery Stafford who is about to find out a dark hidden family secret.
I was immediately drawn into the story from the first page, particularly in Rill’s story starting in 1939 and following the roller coaster journey from her riverboat home to the orphanage. A controversial and difficult theme like kidnapping and child-trafficking requires carefully chosen vocabulary and I thought that the author successfully handled this sensitive topic. The five Foss children felt very real and I especially liked how their character developed from their home to the orphanage to their new adopted homes.
In contrast, I didn’t feel that the present day story held the same level of complexity, perhaps because it unfolded in a relatively slower pace. Avery’s storyline felt strained and I thought that certain parts could have been avoided, such as the love story which seemed unnecessary, considering the theme of the book. However, her relationship with her grandmother was sincere and I admired her will and hope to uncover the truth. The family bond, both in past and present, was completely believable and genuine and I enjoyed discovering the connection between River Foss and the present day characters.
Without giving away too much detail, I can say that the ending was bittersweet and as pleasant as can be expected in such delicate circumstances. It definitely made a lasting impression and I was eager to research this scandal and pleased that it was depicted in such a respectable manner.