I have been slightly behind my blog postings as well as my reading. The book club read Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate for the month of May.
Though the characters in the book are mostly fictional, Georgia Tann and her horrendous practice carried out at her Tennessee Children’s Home Society did really exist from the 1920s-1950. So the scenarios descried in the book were not atypical, including kidnapping or stealing children from poor families to sell off to wealthy ones. If that wasn’t horrible enough, many of these children were malnourished and mistreated, often molested or died before they ever got adopted.
The book alternates between past and present in each chapter. The past is narrated by Rill who was kidnapped and taken to The Tennessee Children’s Home Society with her younger siblings, while the present is narrated by Avery who tries to figure out her grandmother Judy’s secret past.
Needless to say, Grandmother Judy’s past is being revealed by the story unfolding via Rill’s narration, although they are not the same person. In fact, it is a bit complex since the children who are taken to the Children’s Home are forced to have their names changed in order to make it difficult for their real families to trace them and vise versa. So throughout the novel, you do have to figure out who is who not only in the past and future but keep track of who they used to be before the name changes.
I did like the novel and would give it a A-. The one issue I had with the copy I got was that there were 31 extra pages in mine since page 184 was followed by a repeat of pages from page 153 to page 184 again until it finally continues back into page 185. So hopefully there aren’t too many copies out there that have this printing error….
I think the other book club ladies also liked the book and we all agreed that it was one of those books where you wanted to keep reading it because you wanted to know what happens next.
Some of the book club ladies didn’t seem to care much for the narration of Avery and said that her story was dull in comparison, which I think is partially because Avery was born into a privileged family and didn’t have to experience the kind of tragedies Rill had to go through. But I do think that having the constant presence of the present times allows the ending to make more sense and it actually makes it all more possible for the ending that occurred in the novel to occur.
And it also goes to show this stark contrast between the lack of choices women used to have back in the day vs the ones we are allowed to have now, which is why many of these elderly women kept secrets from their families all those years and some of them all the way into their graves.
While the story has heartbreaking moments, the ending is definitely a happier one that celebrates sisterhood. It’s a nice theme to have for our book club since we are also a group of ladies.
So here’s to sisterhood,