Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Before We Were Yours is based on the true story of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. This abhorent piece of history fascinates me. While it operated, primarily as a means for wealthy childless couples to buy children, it was a well-kept secret. It went on for decades*, which is amazing considering the thousands of children stolen from their parents, as well as the estimated hundreds of children that died in the home. The depth and breadth of the cover-up is unimaginable.
As for this book, it does a fair job at telling the story. It is based on the Foss family’s children, who are stolen in the night from their shanty boat. Years later, the sisters are reunited, but decide to keep their story secret. Many years later, a granddaughter, Avery, follows up some strange coincidences, leading her to their past. I would have liked to see a bit more of a fore- or afterword on Georgia Tann and the Home.
The story is told from the past viewpoint of Rill Foss and the present viewpoint of Avery. Avery is one of those characters you just don’t connect with. She is engaged to be married, but you know she is going to break it off because of her new love interest, which just doesn’t read true. The author keeps reminding you Avery is a high-powered attorney, yet she can’t make a decision or read the clues in front of her. On the other hand, the stories centering on Rill Foss, were captivating. At 12 years old, Rill is trying to keep her family together after being kidnapped and molested. Her viewpoint is a story of family, love and sacrifice, and Avery just appeared to be self-centered. Avery was such a contrast to Rill, that reading the viewpoints alternately just didn’t work.
*It appears Georgia Tann had been a well-respected social worker beginning in the 1920’s, and my cursory research couldn’t find when she “turned.”