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Before You Were Mine

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  420 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…

Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.

Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lyi
ebook, 384 pages
Published May 26th 2017 by Harper Collins Publishers
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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
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Elyse  Walters
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Yesterday I finished a modern -contemporary story, "Mrs. Fletcher", by Tom Perrotta.
There was mention of computers, cell phones, texting, sexing, tattoos, competitive athletic teams, Hot Yoga, college drinking, lots of take out eating, and traffic. And... that's just the tip of the iceberg of the modern life Tom Perrotta painted.

It was perfect timing the switch gears and read a different type of novel.....which takes place in Springfield, Illinois.
Apr 26, 2017 rated it liked it

I was given this digital copy by Net Galley, Em Muslin, and HQ Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Anybody that has ever given birth knows the profound love that a mother, father. grandparent or extended family or friends feel towards the new baby. It is one of the most powerful experiences we ever feel. We love the new addition to our family with an attachment that is incredibly deep and knows no boundaries. I can't even begin to imagine the sear
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
All of my reviews can be found on

Any book with a focus on motherhood always effects me in some way, but I don't think I've read anything in quite awhile that has had such a profound effect on me and tugged at my emotions the way Before You Were Mine did. Eli was pregnant at just fourteen and her baby was taken from her against her wishes, such a heartbreakingly sad situation for such a young girl. She's never stopped thinking about her daughter and now, thirty two years later
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
At the age of 14, Eli has given birth, had the baby taken from her arms by the signature of her mother, ostracized by her family and the town she lives in.... she leads a lonely existence.  Enter Tommy, a local guy who has always fancied her.  Takes her as his wife and she makes the most of her situation, unable to give Tommy any children and pining for the daughter that was taken from her.

Seeing her daughter everywhere, she is convinced that this time, she's right.  The girl at the grocery stor
Kaisha (The Writing Garnet)
All reviews can be found on my blog at

99.9% of the time I don’t read blurbs – but for this book, I did. My interest in this storyline was piqued straight away. Why did Eli give her baby up for adoption? What has been happening in Eli’s life between giving the baby up, and an alleged sighting of her grown-up daughter?

At the age of fourteen, Eli Bell had no say in whether her baby was put up for adoption – none whatsoever. Ever since that day, Eli’s life hasn
Chelsea Girard

Before You Were Mine
By Em Muslin
Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…
Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.
Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life.
Even if it means lying… While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her ea
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A stirring, emotional and heart-wrenching tale that stands shoulder to shoulder with some of Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain’s best work, Em Muslin’s stunning debut novel, Before You Were Mine, is a book sure to linger in your mind long after you turn the last page.

Thirty years ago, Eli Bell had been forced to make the hardest sacrifice of them all – to give her baby daughter up for adoption just hours after she’d given birth. Devastated and heartbroken, Eli had no other choice but to try and
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
maureen smith
This book is very difficult to read for several reasons. It seems that the author chose to set the novel in the US but she neglected to use the language of the US. So we had repeated U.K. language to at first confuse then distract us from the story. There was also extremely overwhelming descriptions of mundane occurrences such as house work and daily living in general combined with irrelevant side storys. This all was tiresome and made it difficult if not impossible to care about the characters ...more
Rachel Dann
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book last night and I already know it is going to be one of those books that stays with you, haunting you, for a long time.

When I first picked it up it took me a little while to get used to the main character, but I soon realised that this was entirely down to the fact that I have not lately branched out to read anything told from a slightly different perspective to my own – the main character, Eli, is a woman from a very different time and place, and way of thinking, to my own.
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
When Eli Bell falls pregnant at the tender age of fourteen her world falls apart. She has brought shame on her family and they will never let her forget it. Her life is ruined. She refuses to disclose the parentage of her daughter at any cost. All she wants is it out of her mind forever and to get on with life; rebuilding a future for herself. She gives birth to a perfect daughter but is forced to give her baby away, although she has already fallen in love with her when she lay developing in her ...more
Steph Warren
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review, as part of the author’s Books and the Bear blog tour.*

It is the intimacy of this novel that draws you in. Em Muslin has opened a window into the lives of an ordinary couple, struggling with the consequences of a squalid tragedy and the everyday troubles of living on little money with no support from rather unpleasant family and friends. Even the couple themselves are exposed in all their flaws: pickle-smelling, wrinkles and
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I just have to say wow!  This book was a very heartbreaking and emotional.  To not be given any choices in your own life.  This book pulled my heart into a million pieces.  

In this story Eli is a 14-year-old girl who goes into labor and has her baby taken from her as soon as the cord is cut, with no choice of her own.  She is shunned and no one will even acknowledge her in her town.  She marries a wonderful man named Tommy at the age of 17.  He not only shows her kindness, but never treats her a
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a slow burn emotional book that shows how we use all our senses when undergoing grief or trauma. Fourteen years old and pregnant, Eli gives birth to a beautiful baby who she glimpses for the briefest of moments until her mother signs her away for adoption. The agonising memory of the sight and smell, the sound of the nurses footsteps as she takes her baby further away .. all heartrendingly described and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I am a mother, personal reaso ...more
Fourteen year old Eli Bell had succeeded in turning her best friend from her, and disgracing her ma, pa and three brothers – Eli had found herself pregnant and although she was a kind and gentle natured girl, she was lonely. But when Eli gave birth (after a pain she’d had no idea about) to a beautiful, sweet baby girl, and the nurse took her away, Eli’s life changed. Her loneliness ate into her soul – she knew she had no one; her family wouldn’t speak to her - nobody wanted anything to do with h ...more
Nicola Smith
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Before You Were Mine takes us to Alabama where we meet Eli Bell. Now 46, her daughter was wrenched away from her shortly after birth 32 years earlier and Eli has longed for her ever since.

I thought that longing really came through in the narrative. Eli is quite worn down by a horrible mother and a so-called friend who is nothing of the sort but she just takes it on the chin and carries on regardless. You can tell that she's already been dealt the worst blow of her life in losing her daughter.

Pam Robertson
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it

My Thoughts

I found this to be an absorbing book. Eli's grief at the loss of her baby daughter is palpable and all her life, she has been driven by the thought that she might one day find her. Time hasn't taken the edge off the rawness of her feelings although her pain is never really expressed out loud. The narrative alternates between teenage Eli and her older self but moves at a slow pace. Her family disregard her, with her mother appearing to favour Daisy, Eli's friend. She seems to have los
Ashley Paulson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Mitchell
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a sensational debut that was a pleasure to read.
I can honestly say that it is a very long time since I have been so emotionally involved in a book.
As a mother this book really got to me, it tugged at my heart from the very start. I was intrigued to know why Eli was the way the is and as Muslin slowly unfolds Eli's life story you cannot help but start to see the reasons for her obsessive ways, she is desperate to find the daughter she was forced to give up. With a family who practically aban
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I thought this was a well written novel which really made you feel for the lead character. She becomes pregnant at the age of fourteen having been the idol of her mother's eye . She is now a family disgrace and rather than having the support of her family they are awful towards her. Her mother signs the papers for her baby to be taken away and adopted and hence forth Eli feels this huge hole in her life.

Tommy has loved her from an early age and marries her. He is a loving and supportive husband
Jackie H
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin was highly recommended to me by a friend.
I have to confess, though, that when she told me it was a debut novel I allowed myself to confuse 'debut' with 'beginner' and subconsciously ramped up my internal 'critical reader'.
But I was wrong...
At first I was reluctant to make room in a busy schedule, but as soon as I turned the first page I was hooked, and read it from beginning to end in 48 hours.
I found the characters and their inter-relationships real and believa
May 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well, I haven't gone back to this book since I left it on May 1, 1917 after making it through 34%.

I keep looking at it on my currently reading list and I just can't seem to want to pick it back up.

The blurb hints at even crazier things that Eli does when she meets a woman who she thinks is the newborn daughter she had to give up over 30 years ago. I have already seen a lot of crazy and frankly, I just could not get into this character.

As much as it kills me, because I hate to leave a book unfin
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I was given an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for an honest and independent review.

I love the cover of this book - beautifully designed! I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but I saw the cover and thought it looked interesting.

I enjoyed the storyline and warmed to Eli and Tommy - I found myself wanting to tell them things, pushing them to the right people, in the right direction etc.

However, I found at times that the book was hard to read due to its pace - at times, the pace was reall
Jane Gould
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unputdownable! A random choice from the new e-books and I’ve just put it down - read in two days - unheard of for me! From the first page I was completely immersed in the life of Eli. Her voice takes over your heart as she takes you through her troubled childhood. My own daughter is now in her twenties and I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like to have been forced to give up her baby. Yet through this book I could imagine it. The author took me completely into Eli’s world. I was despera ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Emotionally inspired excellently written!! The characters perfectly knit together throughout Without giving away too much the main character Elli has to deal with falling pregnant at the age of fourteen and having her baby taken away straight after the birth whilst living in a Christian family who has always treated her as an outcast. The author manages to touch your heart and soul like no other and takes you on a journey of Ellis self discovery. I read this book as part of a book tour {loveforb ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unique storyline of a mother's undying love...

Eli grew up second best to get best friend. When Daisy's ma left and her drunken father neglected her, Eli's ma took her in and that was the end of her attention to Eli. Eli always did her best to please, but when she gave birth at 14 her ma signed papers and have away her baby. Shunned by the town and married off at 17, Eli never ceases to love and yearn for her daughter. After 30 years will the hope that she'd find her pay off? A gripping tale of h
Carol G
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a fantastic read! Love it when a book enables me to clearly see images and this didn’t let me down, I was in there, sat in the corner of every chapter, watching the story unfold! Read it over a weekend, didn’t get much else done because I couldn’t put it down! Countless emotions felt, such love for some characters and sheer hatred for others! And oh, that feeling of Karma!! Definite ‘must read’, will be keeping my eyes peeled for the next ‘Em Muslin’ offering – FABULOUS!
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received an electronic copy of this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. First of all, I want to say that I loved the cover of this book. Gorgeous! I also loved the insides of the book. It was a little different for me because I'm not used to books written in the first person. But all in all, it was a great book! ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it

This story was heart wrenching, yet with a happy ending after so many years for the main character, as she kept on searching and hoping until her prayer was finally answered.

I liked the book, though be prepared to use some tissues during the different parts of this book.

Thank you to netgalley for accepting and allowing me to read this book and provide and honest review.
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Very hard to describe this book and give it the praise it deserves. Tragic, heart-wrenching, but filled with hope because of the two main characters, Eli and Tommy. I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started reading it. But I gave it a chance and experienced so many emotions about the characters and their lives.
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USA TODAY BESTSELLING author Em Muslin has worked in the film and television industry for over 20 years. She first fell in love with reading and writing after experiencing Judith Kerr's When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. She hasn't stopped devouring books ever since.

She loves words that capture an experience or emotion in a singular form: her current favourite, describing herself, is nemophilist.


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