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

"One of the year's best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel." --The Huffington Post

Reviews (152)


Written by Cynthia B. on October 6th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This won't make my top ten of all time list but it is definitely worth reading. The author does a beautiful job of describing some almost undefinable emotions for the little girl. Parts are hard to hear but so intriguing that I was riveted. I love how the story weaves back and forth between the two main characters. I didn't give it 5 stars because the story of the older girl (Avery) took on too much of a Hallmark/Jody Picoult, sappy, predictability that was not up to the quality or creativity of the other half. The narration by both readers was superb. I put it below the level of 'Crawdads' but above almost anything by Picoult. I hope you enjoy it.

Written by Michelle H. on September 27th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Wonderful. The story line was so good, it was hard to stop.

Written by Catherine C. on September 22nd, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I love the book ,very interesting from the beginning to the end.

Written by Robin B. on September 20th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5


Written by MimiKS on September 9th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Grey book and narration! Keep my interest the entire time.

Written by LisaAT on August 27th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Such a good book!! Keeps you intrigued and was based on real- life happenings. I never knew about thus place. It makes me wonder what happened to my brother - my mother was told he died- yet there was never a baby produced- she was put to sleep back then and when she woke up she was told that and was never allowed to see him...

Written by Perkibest22 on August 18th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Such a great story!! Heartbreaking and moving with a happy ending.


Written by Anonymous on August 10th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I am in the minority here but this book was very difficult to finish. Many parts dragged ridiculously long and it seemed the author was just filling pages. I quit the book 2 times but I hate not finishing what I start so I continued. I still don’t have a mental picture of what the characters look like even though I am 30 minutes from the end. I felt the author used too many metaphors. I guess it just wasn’t my style. I thought the narration was great though.

Written by Shelly B. on August 6th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I loved this book!


Written by Anonymous on August 4th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Loved 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.