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Publisher's Summary

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for fans of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

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. At the mercy of the facility's cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, 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 - Lisa Wingate's riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

©2017 Lisa Wingate (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"This heartbreaking story is also heart-mending - a powerful tale of family, of sisters, of secrets kept and secrets shared. I absolutely loved this book. I'm still basking in the afterglow, in shock at the true-crime elements, in awe at the journey of these characters who seem to have immortal souls." (Jamie Ford, New York Times best-selling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost)
"This captivating novel will quite likely break your heart, but because it's Lisa Wingate at the helm, you will not be left broken. She is a master storyteller and never fails to get to the heart of what makes us hold on to hope despite the worst that can be done to us. An unforgettable read." (Susan Meissner, author of Secrets of a Charmed Life)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.8 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I was rivetted, finished in three days.

From a person who has read Orphan Train and started reading The Lost generation, this book had my attention right from the start and I quickly became engrossed in the story line. It is hard to read or hear about the abuse of the innocent, but the story line balances the tragedy of the terrible criminal acts with the strength, courage, resilience and tanasity of human nature walk forward and eventually over coming the past. I really wanted to know what happened to the 10 year old and the two little boys, but I do not want to spoil the story. I could not put it down. Very very well constructed and performed. The characters were very well developed, and even though it is based on true circumstances but not necessarily these people and outcomes, I cannot help but to hope that one day, all of these stolen people are somehow found, and reunited with their families or their information reunited with the descendants of the families they were stolen from. I did do some research on Georgia Tann, what an evil demon of a woman. But what a lovely outcome in the story for this young woman and family. I do not like stories that lay out too much abuse and terrible hardship, this story does not do that, it is worth reading, I highly recommend it.

133 of 135 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Gut Wrenching Life Journey

From the first page this story takes over your life. So full of love, hardships, life struggles and endurance. I was totally consumed. Also, a grim reminder of real life histories, poignant love.

72 of 78 people found this review helpful

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  • Ava
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • 08-03-17

Was heartwrenching but could have been better...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes, I would recommend this book to a friend, but I really think this story, while good, could have been great. Specifically, I found Avery's narration a bit irritating and her character dull and one dimensional.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rill. Her character and story brought me to tears at times, which is rare for me. You could feel how much she loved her siblings.<br/>

Any additional comments?

I loved the story that this book told. I had never heard about Georgia Tann or the Tennessee Children's Home and although the details are disturbing, the author does a great job of revealing the horror without getting into gory specifics. <br/><br/>I also thought the way May and Judy's relationship was revealed was a little confusing...

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic book and narrator!

Out of the 15-20 audiobooks I've listened to so far this year, this one is the best! Heart-wrenching at times but not over the top as to make you feel the book is a task to get through. Not at all. It was tastefully done with plenty of happiness, too. The story gripped me from the beginning! You'll not want to put it down! 5 stars!

49 of 54 people found this review helpful

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  • p
  • 08-04-17

Good

I couldn't put it down. I listened every chance I could. Id have to say my favorite so far

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

So Glad When It Was Over!

I just don't understand all the five star ratings for this book! I almost gave up after the first hour, but I thought I must be missing something. It was so drawn out, I just wanted them to get on with it. The only reason I continued was that I was hoping to learn more about Georgia Tan and the "homes" she ran for children. There was good insight into her operations, through the voice of little Mae. It is unfair to give an overall rating for performance when there is more than one reader. I would have given Catherine Taber five stars and Emily Rankin only two. The later's voice was so overly dramatic, I found myself rolling my eyes. If the story had been told through the eyes of Mae, it would have been much more interesting. All the rest of the gobbledygook was useless and boring!

27 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • :)
  • 06-14-17

Another Wingate Winner

In typical Wingate style, we learn of tragedies yet hope. I applaud her writing & style! I found myself unable 2 quit listening until the end. She uses discretion in places other writers would not. This book comes from true history..let's not forget that this isn't just a book with "difficult things to hear". The Narrators were surperb. 6 out of 5 Stars!

43 of 51 people found this review helpful

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Excellent But Disturbing!

Story was well written and told. Kept me glued, and wanting to learn more about Georgia Tan and if the children ever reunite with their families, even in adulthood. Had never heard of her, and extremely sad how she managed to get away with what she was doing for so many years. Really loved the narrators, especially the one who performed the parts of the big sister (May) and her siblings. Her southern drawl and ability to sound young was pretty impressive. Must say that I had a difficult time listening to this book, only due to the terrible treatment which was described throughout. An eye opener for sure!

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't put it down

LOVED this book. Was recommended if I like The Nightingale and The Orphan Train.I loved both those books and this was just as good. Narrators really got into character. Story goes between 1940s and present. Each time it switches you wish you could stay in that era and then in no time you're totally engrossed and don't want to switch back! I love historical fiction and can't believe I didn't know about this. Made me want to be more informed. Great book. Highly recommend.

39 of 47 people found this review helpful

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Brings to light a horrible early 20th century scam

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

There are two stories: present day and 1930's. The plot that takes place in the 1930's was interesting to me and kept me listening. I had a hard time getting through the present day plot because I found the characters boring and annoying. The main present day character is a self-important, self-centered privileged young white southern woman whom we watch struggle to raise her consciousness a tiny notch. The story of the "river gypsy" kids is fascinating and, importantly, helps to expose a great historical wrong.

Which character – as performed by Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber – was your favorite?

Rill.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Maybe.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful