on June 6, 2017
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Read synopsis on Goodreads
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Avery Stafford was a woman who knew exactly who she was. The daughter of a congressman, her family’s ties to southern wealth and power ran deep. From a young age, Avery had a sense of purpose; a sense that she would always achieve what she set out to do. So when a quick run-in with a strong-willed woman at a nursing home leaves her shaken and with questions about her own grandmother, she sets out to find the answers. What comes next is the exceptional story of Avery’s unlikely history, the Foss family of decades past, far-reaching corruption, and ultimately, love.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate weaves together the stories of present-day Avery and the decades-old story of the Foss children, with both becoming more intricately linked as the story unfolds. Told in alternating chapters, this moving and unforgettable story unravels slowly, but with each individual storyline building in anticipation with every turn of the page.
Unlike Avery, the Foss children were born into an impoverished, yet close-knit, family that lived on a shantyboat on the Mississippi River. When their father leaves them alone to rush their mother to the emergency room, the authorities swoop in to take the children to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, despite their protests that they are not orphans. Billed as an orphanage and based on true events, the home was, in reality, a house of horrors where children stolen from poor families were deposited – and abused – until wealthier, high-powered couples came to adopt. Here, the Foss children fought for their survival, with the eldest daughter doing everything she could to keep them together for as long as possible, the results of which span both time and generations.
What I like about the way this book is written is that, while the reader becomes increasingly invested in the fates of the Foss children, so does Avery’s investment in finding answers. Undeterred, she defies the etiquette and social conventions she was taught to abide by in order to find the truth, and ultimately, herself. I also like that the reader is always one step ahead of Avery, almost as if they are in on the secrets she is trying to uncover, even if they don’t have the full story.Before We Were Yours by @LisaWingate explores how much of who we are is rooted in a past we don't remember. Click To Tweet
But perhaps what I liked most about Before We Were Yours is that it touches on some universal questions about life. How much of who we are is rooted in a past that we don’t remember? And when we discover something new, how much bearing (if any) does it have on the decisions we make about the future? These are questions that get to the heart of who we are as humans and how we reckon with our pasts and build our futures, and the possibilities are endless. But here, we don’t have to ask these questions of ourselves – we get to ask them of Avery.
Recommended for: Historical fiction fans who like strong-willed, female protagonists.