Before We Were Yours

Reviewed by: Mary Clapp, former Church Librarian and Co-president, ECLA



Title: Before We Were Yours

Author: Lisa Wingate

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Format: Print book, review copy

Length: 352 pages


This story begins in 1939 on a Mississippi River shanty boat where a family of seven try to eke out a living during the Great Depression. Though poor, the family is full of love and contentment until a difficult pregnancy and delivery send the mother to a nearby hospital. Here the family crosses paths with the true life historical figure, Georgia Tann, who ran The Tennessee Children’s Home Society and was known for child trafficking from 1920 to 1950.

A parallel story is told of a current day wealthy, political family who discover long held family secrets and their ties to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Although the subject matter is heavy, it does not leave the reader depressed, the story is well told and riveting. It is a story of hope and justice. Both families in the story show a great deal of love and respect for each other in the midst of difficult situations. There seems to be  little anger or bitterness towards past wrongs, but instead an emphasis on thankfulness for current blessings.


Rating (1 to 5)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Teens and adults, especially those who enjoy historical fiction, or those interested in social justice issues.

Christian Impact

There is little specific mention of Christianity in this story; I would have to classify this book as historical fiction. However, it would be a good selection for a church library. The Christian impact of this story is that it gives the reader much needed insight into unethical adoptions and child trafficking and the desire and motivation to help those involved. This would make a good book club selection.

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Before We Were Yours

About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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