Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Before We Were Yours Book Review

A Book That Will Touch Your Heart

After having just finished the book Before We Were Yours, I would like to review it for you today. It isn't a book that I would have chosen for myself, to be honest. My youngest daughter gave it to me for Mother's Day this year. It turns out she made a very good choice for her mamma to read. The novel by Lisa Wingate falls into the historical fiction genre which is a genre that I read often but it also falls under Sisters Fiction (I didn't even know that was a thing!) and Mothers and Children fiction (another new genre to me). Anyway, it turned out to be one of those books that I found difficult to put down. Let me tell you about it.

little girl pulling another little girl on a sled
This made me think of Rill and Fern in Before We Were Yours
image courtesy of pixabay.com
It took me a little while to get used to going back and forth in time as I read the first few chapters but after a short period of time, I rather liked the way the author was making the story unfold.

Before We Were Yours Synopsis

Although, the story line in this novel is fictional, it is based on historical records of a time in the not so distant past where children from very poor families were literally stolen from their parents to be adopted out to families with money and power. Spoiler alert: what these kids go through is gonna tug at your heart. 

Lisa Wingate weaves us through decades of time while telling the story of a family of River Gypsies or Shanty-boat people on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee. As you turn the pages, you learn about two families that are two generations apart. You see the power of the strings that hold a family together or rip them apart.  Will there be consequences from secrets kept and secrets shared?

Personally, I loved the honest way that the author wrote about the struggles that most multi-generational families have when faced with having to place a loved one in a facility to be cared for. She portrayed the heartache of a family member no longer being able to live in their own home. Those awful moments when someone you love no longer recognizes who you are. This wasn't the main plot of the novel but was interspersed very well as the story progresses through a span of about 80 years. 

This is a story that probably will break your heart, but by the end, I think it will mend your heart, too.  

Every Family Can Relate

I think one of the remarkable things I took away from this novel was that just about everyone will relate to this story about family. I kept thinking about my paternal grandmother while I read. Granny was a strong soul who went through a similar childhood as the Foss children did. She came from a poor family with several children. Her mother died in childbirth when she was about 8. It was decided that her father wasn't fit to raise the children. The younger ones were adopted out quickly but Granny and her sister Cora were deemed too old. They were sent to an orphanage. Those two sisters spent years trying to get back to their family. They actually escaped from 4 orphanages together. She and Cora stayed close and they were able to re-unite with their siblings when they were adults and even took care of their elderly father in his last years. 

Another connection to my own family was that Granny suffered from Alzheimer's. Having to put someone you love in a care facility for their own safety isn't an easy one for any family. It broke my heart that she didn't recognize me at all but it hurt even more to see my Dad's face when she didn't know him. The author writes about this in a sympathetic and poignant way. 

I highly recommend this book! I think it will resonate with many. Whether we are a mother, father, daughter, son, sister, or brother; I think parts of the story will seem like a bit of our own.

Click Here to See the Book, Before We Were Yours

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I read this book for my book club and loved it. Your review is very compelling. I too highly recommend this book.

  2. Before We Were Yours sounds like a really interesting story. The title alone is compelling and, the story may be fiction, but these things do happen in families, so easy for any reader to relate. Good review, Bev

  3. The title pulls at your heartstrings all by itself! Alongside the photo your featured, it is very clear this book is about adoption. My husband has a friend that lives on a boat home on the river. That is not a life I would desire, but there are clearly some who love it. Having grown up in Memphis, Tn, I am very familiar with the Mississippi River. I can assure you, I have never wished to live on the water. I am also familiar with impoverished families. The children, even friends from my youth, often have no idea they are "impoverished". They love their parents, siblings and life. I can see how some well-meaning individuals might think it was unsafe for children, but I've never believed taking children from their parents, destroying families and lives, was an optimum choice. I also vaguely remember hearing about an adoption agency in Memphis before I was born that sold "stolen" children to wealthy customers in other states. That is probably unrelated to this book, but real history like that causes considered individuals to be more suspicious of why a child is removed from their home. Yes, just thinking about the probably content of this book breaks my heart.

  4. I keep hearing about this book. Time to pick it up and dive in. Those genres you mention are new to me, also. This seems to be a very popular genre at the moment, given the number of bestsellers I have seen lately. Thanks for your review. Now I have a much better sense of what I will encounter when I read this book.

  5. One of my favorite books ever! In fact, I read it twice -- and I am sure will read again in years to come. Powerful story - and I love that it helped bring so many siblings together.

  6. Oh my, this sounds fantastic and difficult all in one breath. You've gotten me very intrigued indeed. Thanks for another interesting book review.

  7. Oh this is an amazing book for sure. I read it a while ago and it stayed with me for a while too. I just picked up another of Lisa Wingate's books and could not remember why her name rang a bell. Well you just answered that question for me. It will be my next review. I love her all her books that I have read so far.

  8. Bev, this sounds gripping, "unputdownable" and heart-wrenching. I'm so glad to hear it's also heart-mending in the end! Thanks so much for sharing your review.

  9. It sounds like a wonderful book. As an adoptive parent of older children, I can see first-hand how hard adoption is for some children, especially those who are older and remember their birth families well. Even abused and neglected children have strong bonds to their parents, even if the parents don't give them the care and attention they need and crave. I hope I'll have time to read this soon.


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