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Publisher's Summary

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge, until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents - but they quickly realize the dark truth....

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals, in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country, Before We Were Yours is a riveting, wrenching and ultimately uplifting tale.

©2017 Lisa Wingate (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation's history and weaves a tale of enduring power." (Paula McLain)

What listeners say about Before We Were Yours

Average Customer Ratings
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Excellent story, excellent narration

This story felt real and realistic. great character development. Narration was absolute top of the game.

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Riveting

Enjoyed every minute of this book! I could literally feel the character’s emotions. Highly recommended.

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What an amazing story!

wow, what an amazing book!! It really touched my heart. I felt I got to know the characters so well. Their story becoming alive. One of my favourite books of all time.

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Heartwarming and heartbreaking all in one

I had no knowledge of the events surrounding Georgia Tann and her awful deeds. The narrative weaves the reality and the fiction together so well that it is not hard to believe that it could be completely true. I was riveted from the first word. I was breathless with fear when the little ones were left and ultimately, I was worried when dealing with the health issues in present day and felt sadness at Grandma Judy's losses. I felt Avery's anguish in her decisions about her future and I wanted to solve the mysteries of who was who in each time. I must congratulate the two narrator's as their characterizations were integral to my enjoyment of the story. I will learn more about the adoption scandal now as my interest has been piqued by this tale. I highly recommend this book as it is a truly rich story with lovable characters and a well developed storyline. Bravo to the author and the voice artist's. Magnificent job.

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Lost lives.

A wonderful story of how the lives of helpless and defenseless people can unravel. One can never imagine what children remember or how it gets understood.

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A Great Read

I was lost in this book, every time i played this, I did a time travel. I went from being Rail to Avery. I was certain this is not entirely fictional and the last chapter cleared my doubts.
I loved this book all the way.
The performance was Excellent.

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Before We Were Yours

Excellent performance and story, though there was too much telling rather than showing the emotions of the characters. In Avery's case, I couldn't understand or be sympathetic with her.

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  • Amy Connolly
  • 01-22-18

thoroughly enjoyed it

Little bit slow to start but once it got going I was hooked.

I really enjoyed this story but it wasn't without it's faults. Rill's narration was far more interesting than Avery's, and I found Avery to be a little dense for such a smart woman.

The narration was great.

I think what I found most interesting was it was based on true events and since reading this book I've looked up a lot to do with the orphanage.

I would recommend this listen.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Masonia
  • 12-18-17

Well written. A gripping story, and good narrators

I really enjoyed this book, even though the love story was a bit obvious. Although these people didn't exist, the stories are based on history, so it was very gripping. Hard to imagine what the parents and children went through.
The narration was spot on. I liked having two narrators for Rill and Averly because it made the story easier to follow.

26 people found this helpful

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  • m a kingsbury
  • 03-30-18

Excellent production

Fascinating and very moving account of an era totally outside my experiences; brilliant narration ; I highly recommend this book

12 people found this helpful

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  • carol
  • 07-02-18

I loved this book

This is a fabulous book. It is a sad story beautifully told. I loved this book.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Roberta
  • 05-22-18

An Interesting Historic Fiction

I really enjoyed this book which is about Georgia Tann who was orchestrator of true life scandalous adoptions in America. Though it is fiction, it is based on fact. This book is well written and narrated.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 02-10-19

A roller coaster of emotions... a thought provoking and powerful story!

I had never heard of Georgia Tann, and the pain and suffering she caused to 100s of families and although this is a work of fiction based on real life events, it hit me right between the eyes.
I couldn’t stop listening as I really wanted to know what happened to this family and often I would sit with tears rolling down my face.
This book is a roller coaster of emotions and the author and narrators convey this is a way that is thought provoking and sensitive.
I loved (probably the wrong choice of words, given the subject matter) this book and felt a real empathy towards the fictional and real life children and their families and their stories that this book was based on.
Sadly trafficking of children still exists and although this was in the 1930s it just goes to show that people are still prepared to put money and power before anything.

5 people found this helpful

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  • jayjay
  • 08-17-18

More than expected

I was expecting a novel about orphans but this is based on truth. The story is nevertheless a real page turner. The author gives some further reading at the end.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Former infatuation Junkie
  • 02-12-19

Wow. Heart wrenching & unputdownable

Not sure what I was expecting, but this was the best book I’ve ‘read’ in some time. Very difficult to listen to at times. Avery, was a welcome modern day antidote to the travesties of the past, Even more powerful because of its basis in fact. Kingdom Arcadia will stay with me for sometime.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Bear G
  • 10-03-19

Great listen

I really enjoyed this book. The best listen I’ve had in ages. I’d recommend it to anyone

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sue
  • 01-27-20

Beautifully narrated story which shines a light on a very unsavoury episode in American history

I really enjoyed this book. The story, which is based on a true scandal in the 1930’s, is told from two perspectives, one of a 12 year old child in 1939, and the other a modern career woman. Their stories intertwine in a pretty obvious way. The exploitation of children by the Tennessee Children’s Society is shocking, and the way in which this use of children who were maltreated and then sold on for adoption has obvious links to the slavery practices of the previous century.

The two narrators are superb, and manage to differentiate between a host of characters in a way which brings the characters to life.

Altogether a great book.

1 person found this helpful