Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.
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 that the truth is much darker. 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 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—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.
Before We Were Sisters by Lisa Wingate is an emotional rollecoaster ride. It has sad, sweet, and hopeful moments that tug at my heart. I loved how the cast of characters were portrayed and brought to life. They felt so real. I can only imagine what children like the siblings mentioned here, went through in times like those. Even today, children face the same issues. Danger, risks, and a heartbroken journey are found inside the pages. But the adeventure ahead also leads to hope. The depictions of an orphanage are so detailed it was hard to believe a I was reading a piece of fiction. Being an older sister, I was easily able to relate to the characters. I too, spent time in an orphanage. This story both broke and stole my whole heart. The plot was engaging, steady, and realistic. Overall, I would recommend this to readers everywhere.