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Before We Were Yours
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Monthly Group Reads > Before We Were Yours (January 2019)

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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1370 comments Mod
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Free-For-All Month :)


message 2: by NancyJ (last edited Jan 03, 2019 10:31AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 133 comments Good choice. Get your library requests in quickly for this popular book, as there may be long wait lists. Or buy a copy to share with your friends later. This book is based in part on a true story of an adoption agency that victimized poor families for decades. Georgia Tan was real, and all (or most) of the other characters are fictitious.


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1370 comments Mod
I read this book last month and it was so interesting! It is a time period in history that I have never heard of.


Cathie (catitude) | 8 comments I read this book almost a year ago and still regard it as a powerful read. I gave it 4 stars only because I would have preferred a single narrative rather than 2 different story lines.
I did a review; it is here https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

It might be better to read it after you have read the book. I didn't put in any spoilers about the story but I did give history on the woman who was in charge of the orphanage and my strong dislike and contempt for her.

I'm interested in seeing what everyone else here thinks about this read.


Calis Johnson Its hard to beleive that this was actully going on back then. I did'nt think much of the book as a whole but the subjuct matter was astonishing.


Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments I was able to get the book from my library yesterday. I hope to start reading it soon.


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1370 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "I was able to get the book from my library yesterday. I hope to start reading it soon."

Can't wait to hear your thoughts!


Jonetta (ejaygirl) I read this a few months ago and loved the book. I listened to it and the narrator for Rill was outstanding and surely affected my reading experience.

Looking forward to the discussion.


Tracy Munk | 14 comments I just finished this book. Heart-wrenching, interesting, depressing, sometimes confusing, but very well written. I loved it. One question I have is did anyone have a hard time figuring out who Grandma Judy was?


Jonetta (ejaygirl) Tracy, I must admit it took me a long while to figure that out.


Tracy Munk | 14 comments Also, did anyone get the urge to research the home and Ms. Tann? I found some very interesting facts about her life and who she adopted to.


Cathie (catitude) | 8 comments Tracy wrote: "Also, did anyone get the urge to research the home and Ms. Tann? I found some very interesting facts about her life and who she adopted to." I wrote about some of it in my review, Tracy :-) https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Shomeret | 25 comments Cathie wrote: "Tracy wrote: "Also, did anyone get the urge to research the home and Ms. Tann? I found some very interesting facts about her life and who she adopted to." I wrote about some of it in my review, Tra..."

Goodreads says that your review is not found. So that must be the wrong link.


Cathie (catitude) | 8 comments Ooops. Try this link then: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

(Don't know how the other one got added?)


Tracy Munk | 14 comments I really liked your review Cathie. There were times I would get confused by the two narratives, especially if I had to put the book down for a couple of days. (I much rather read cover to cover in consecutive sittings, however life does not allow that!). However, I loved the writing style. The way she wrote Rill and her siblings' voice, I could hear the twang of an accent in my head as I read. Also, the well educated, proper language of Avery and her parents.


Jonetta (ejaygirl) Since I listened to this book, I had no difficulty keeping up with and distinguishing between the two narratives, especially Rill’s.

By the way, here’s my review:

Before We Were Yours - Jonetta’s Review


Cathie (catitude) | 8 comments Great review Jonetta!


Jonetta (ejaygirl) Thank you, Cathie!


Jonetta (ejaygirl) Cathie, your review is just stunning. I’m not sure I could have read this book in your shoes.

Some have stated that the second narrative was a distraction or unnecessary. For me it was a respite as Rill’s story was so heartbreaking. I’m now sure what I would have done without it.


message 20: by Joy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (audioaddict1234) | 53 comments I read this in Nov 2017 and didn’t write a review. I rated it 3 stars. As I recall, I was one who felt the side by side narratives just weren’t done all that well. She could have really beefed up the backstory. The contemporary portion didn’t add much IMO.

Or maybe I was just spoiled by The Orphan Train.


Jonetta (ejaygirl) I was so frustrated to learn that Georgia Tann never had to atone for her crimes against children. Anyone else have similar feelings?


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 133 comments Jonetta wrote: "I read this a few months ago and loved the book. I listened to it and the narrator for Rill was outstanding and surely affected my reading experience.

Looking forward to the discussion."


I agree with you about the voice performance. She was wonderful.


message 23: by NancyJ (last edited Jan 10, 2019 11:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 133 comments Tracy wrote: "Also, did anyone get the urge to research the home and Ms. Tann? I found some very interesting facts about her life and who she adopted to."

I heard about her long ago, probably from 60 minutes or another show, so I thought I was prepared for what was in this book. This was so much worse than I thought. (view spoiler)

Like many here, I wasn't as interested in the modern half of the story. I would have preferred to hear more about the earlier years in Rill's life. Or better yet, when some of the children reunited. That would have been more emotionally powerful than the present day political story. The 'terrible family secret' didn't seem that big a deal to me, but perhaps it's different for a political family in the south. The ending of the modern story had too many old fashioned cliches. (view spoiler)


message 24: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments Cathie wrote: "Ooops. Try this link then: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

(Don't know how the other one got added?)"


Cathie, it was interesting for me reading your review. I am only about a third into the book but when I saw it was on the list, I was intrigued to read it. I am 70 years old and I had a first cousin about a year older than I was who was adopted out of this home. My aunt and uncle weren't wealthy but after seven miscarriages, they were desperate to adopt a baby. They had no idea that they were getting my cousin from such a crooked place. They got him when he was about three months old. They didn't suspect anything until decades later when the scandals came out about this Tennessee Home.

My aunt and uncle never threw it up to him that he was "rescued" but they had a dysfunctional marriage and later divorce. My cousin had emotional problems all his life. Our families were very intertwined and this story is weighing on me. It'll probably take me a while to finish it.


Cathie (catitude) | 8 comments Wow, Lisa, it must be difficult reading this story when you have such an intimate tie to the actual history of the Tennessee Home. Go easy on yourself and your emotions; it'ls ok to walk away from it for awhile if you need to. I'm always amazed at the power of books and their impact they can have me (whether personally involved with the story or not.)

I look forward to knowing what you think of this book once you are done.


message 26: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments Thank you Cathie. I find myself putting the book down when my anxiety level gets too high.


Tracy Munk | 14 comments Lisa, I am amazed that you are even attempting this read. I have to admit it is very interesting having that real tie to this book. Living in Kansas, and being 33, I didn't know anything about the home or Georgia Tann until I read this book. To me, it's a work of fiction, but to you, it's real life. Good luck, it really is a wonderful book.


Tracy Munk | 14 comments Nancy J,
It's horrible to know it was real! Also, authors make women give up their ambitions for a man because it happens in real life. It's a very sad truth, but it's still truth. My sister and I are prime examples of both sides. I had big plans for my life-college degree, working in a huge interior design firm, huge house with lots of land, etc. However, I met a guy in college, fell in love, and started a family. I'm 33 and just getting back to my education (after a divorce and nasty negotiations). My sister on the other hand is finishing up her doctorate being 38 and just got engaged. It does happen.


message 29: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments Not everyone follows the same path. Some women I've know have had children first and then got their degrees and had careers. Tracy, you may still do all the things you planned just not in the same order that you planned it.


message 30: by Kat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kat (katwiththehat) | 48 comments What a moving, well-written book. I had never heard about Georgia Tann or that any of these horrors had taken place until reading this. Some great research must have gone into the writing.


message 31: by NancyJ (last edited Jan 12, 2019 01:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 133 comments Tracy wrote: "Nancy J,
It's horrible to know it was real! Also, authors make women give up their ambitions for a man because it happens in real life. It's a very sad truth, but it's still truth. My sister and I..."


I did that too. I met my husband in college, and I wanted to have kids young (while I could). I went to graduate school when they were very young. It worked out pretty well because my schedule was more flexible than if I had a full-time job.


message 32: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments I just finished reading the book today. It was difficult. I had to put it down a number of times. I thought it was an wonderfully written book and of course well researched. It was so possible to feel the pain of Rill and her siblings. Avery was harder for me to relate to. In addition to being a well-written story, the book did an excellent job of showing the class/caste system in America and income inequity. Although it took place decades ago, many of those issues are still with us.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 428 comments My hold at the library came through, and I’m starting the book today - with some trepidation after reading the above! Forewarned....


message 34: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Jan 18, 2019 05:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 428 comments Here is a link to the true story the book is based on:

https://youtu.be/tSQw5laNR3g

There are a lot more links I could also copy here. This seems to be a well-known scandal, yet I never heard of Georgia Tann or her Tennessee Children's Home Society, despite the fact I knew about Joan Crawford being a crazed mother to her adopted children. Was this children's home scandal a well known story in the South?

Tann clearly had all kinds of people supporting her - judges, doctors, hospitals, even though there were folks who tried to get someone to care there was abuse going on...obviously, the reality is a lot of people really do not care about the safety or happiness of little kids, even today, whatever TV family sitcoms and romcoms movies show.

This novel reminds me of Little Fires Everywhere, because it is not only about the surface issue of children being kidnapped from their parents, and the abuse which goes on in some foster homes/orphanages. It is also about who are the best suitable parents under the surface. Are loving egg/sperm donors who are poor, with too many kids, who are living practically in an open sewer like a polluted river, no address or regular schooling, whose kids go without food occasionally besides missing a lot of school, no regular bathing with soap, no health care, better off with their parents? This moral dilemma came up in the novel 'Little Fires Everywhere', too, if more on the surface than in 'Before We Were Yours'.

I know I wish all kids could be wanted, planned for, loved AND have all of the benefits of a healthy environmentally-enriched childhood. But there are all kinds of personalities too. Camilla and Rill were so different for example. What Camilla may have been like as an adult, we all know Rill would not have exactly endorsed for herself. College isn't for everyone, etc.

But children growing up in a lifestyle that has a degree of danger and deprivation - like a life of poverty with food and education being rare or sporadic - even when parents may love their kids - and an opportunity for a better life with education, health care, regular meals, could be theirs, well, I tend to fall on the side of having more opportunity, frankly. (I grew up in an underclass family.)

I reject abusing children no matter the economic status of parents! But as for the situation if all home elements are loving and safe and provide for a child's needs, except that one set of parents are poor, I think birth parents should of course keep their own kids! It's those grey areas - like loving parents whose lifestyles are erratic, who provide meals and housing only sporadically because of mental health, or drug addiction, or because they are in a cult, or they believe in living in the woods prepping for the Apocalypse, that have me swinging back and forth like a flag in the wind. After all, given the state of foster care and adoption misfires today...


message 35: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments The children in this situation were kidnapped and/or outright stolen from their parents. Some of the households may not have even been that bad. It seemed like Georgia Tann took it upon herself to take the children for her own material gain. Then she put them in homes with they were abused physically and sexually to the point that their lives were threatened. This is beyond the question of whether children are better off in a poor but loving family or a rich family.

I worked for DCFS in Illinois for a short time. In Illinois, it is illegal to consider the parents' means as a criterion for taking children from their parents. If they don't have the means, parents are given supports such as job training, referrals for food stamps. public assistance, etc. When children are removed, there is some process in the decision. It is not done lightly.


Gisela Hafezparast | 30 comments I really liked this harrowing story, based on this awful adoption agency. How something like this could have happened is unbelievably but not surprising as not just the US seem to find children who for whatever reason find themselves without a loving home and family, a problem which is difficult to deal with. These scandals have not only happened in the US, but in more or less any European country! I am not a sentimental person, but children are a gift and if you can't have them it can ruin your life. So children who need to be adopted and therefore have often had a tough start are a gift to people who can't have their "own" kids. I know many families who have been enormously enriched by adopting children and turned into very happy families. Cathie I feel terrible for you that this clearly has not happened in your case and I can imagine how close this story must have been to you.

When I read this book, I didn't mind that it was told by two people, except that it seemed as if I was reading two books. One where a survivor told her story and that of her family, really well written and not to over-emotional, great writing. The other, of far lower writing quality, about a spoiled senator's daughter who had come across something which did not fit in her perfect life style, but where everything still worked out for her just fine (personally I hate books like that). Couldn't really see the need and couldn't wait to get back to Rea's story.


message 37: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth Like many people, I preferred the historical story. Regarding the diversity angle, I appreciate the way the author portrayed the (socioeconomically) poor riverboat family's loving and often fun life without pulling punches on the meager food or financial worries.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 133 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Here is a link to the true story the book is based on:

https://youtu.be/tSQw5laNR3g

There are a lot more links I could also copy here. This seems to be a well-known scandal, yet I never heard of ..."


I learned about Georgia Tann from 60 minutes (or a similar show) decades ago, and there were also TV movies. If any of the children were reunited with their families, it was kept quiet, just like in this book.


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