Before We Were Yours

Version: Unabridged
Author: Lisa Wingate
Narrator: Emily Rankin
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Literature, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: October 2018
# of Units: 12 CDs
Length: 14 hours, 30 minutes
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THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT—A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller

For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*

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.

*Library Journal

Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017 • Winner of the Southern Book Prize • If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection 

“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.”—People

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”—Parade

Reviews (111)


Written by Lani O. on July 18th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Loved this story and narration. Brought out all different emotions for me. Very well written and enjoyed all the characters.


Written by Tina F. on July 7th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Fantastic Narration. Such a touching story. I found myself researching the Tennessee Society before finishing the book. I had no idea that it really existed and carried on for so many years.

Written by Jenna C. on July 6th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This book was very well written. The story is heart wrenching.


Written by Anonymous on June 29th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Really well thought out book on such an important topic. The narration was fantastic.

Written by Anonymous on June 11th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Great book. Did not want to stop listening.


Written by April P. on May 4th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

So well done! Didn’t want to stop listening.

Written by Alisha L. on April 25th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

omg this book is so good. I'm glade they got a good ending. but sad that something bad had to happen for such a good read or listen came to be. thank you for the good story.

Written by Jessica E. on March 31st, 2019

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I tried, I really did, but I just could not enjoy the writing enough to move past the beginning. I found it simplistic and predictable, and the narration excruciatingly slow. I’m from the south and I understand the pace of comfortable language in the culture, but I had to listen at 1.25 speed just to make it as far along as I did. I feel like I wasted money on this one…

Written by Sherry R. on March 15th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This was an excellent book - jaw dropping events - I was interested until the very end - I’d highly recommend- it’s based on true events!

Written by Pam W. on January 19th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Narrator was phenomenal. Story was devastating but we'll told and it's sticking with me days after I've finished it.

Author Details

Author Details

Wingate, Lisa

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and the author of more than twenty mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller "Tending Roses", now in its nineteenth printing. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol Award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her novel "Blue Moon Bay" was a Booklist Top Ten of 2012 pick. Recently the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Wingate, Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.