About the Book

Book Protagonist: Avery Stafford
Publication Date: 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction


Before We Were Yours

By Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate’s ‘Before We Were Yours’ follows a gripping story of a secret family history which is tied to a series of child adoption scandals connected to Georgia Tann, one of America’s most notorious child trafficker.

With Lisa Wingate’s ‘Before We Were Yours, it doesn’t matter whether you are a first-time reader or a returner; from the turn of the first page, you immediately find yourself sucked into the maze of mystery the story holds. Wingate’s book leaves you flustering between the plots as you try to unpuzzle the reality of the book.

An Enthralling Maze of Mystery

Before We Were Yours’ by Lisa Wingate is supercharged with a labyrinth of mysteries surrounding Georgia Tann’s real-life abuses of the children entrusted to her Memphis orphanage home; the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.

In Before We Were Yours’ the reader sees Avery Stafford taking on the responsibility of unraveling the mysteries in their numbers. It was never going to be an easy task for Avery, a young woman who finds herself in the middle of a secret that has spanned several decades before she was born.

Thankfully, Avery is dogged, determined, intrepid, and already in a career (lawyer) that practically makes a living off getting to the roots of mysteries and conspiracies. She doesn’t do it alone anyways as she receives help multiple times from Trent Turner III – who happens to be the grandson of another of Georgia Tann’s victims.

A Confluence of Flashbacks and Flash-forwards

Keep Lisa Wingate’s show of flare for storytelling aside, strategic flashbacks and flashforwards are a major part of the entire beautification she’s done to her book ‘Before We Were Yours.’ From being taken aback to Baltimore several decades ago to a trip to Memphis – then present day, Lisa Wingate’s ‘Before We Were Yours’ realty picks the reader up for a mesmerizing ride.

The reader sees the book kick off with a flashback to 1939, Baltimore, Maryland, at a child delivery room where an unknown voice describes a painful yet fruitless delivery that sees a woman give birth to a stillborn. The doctor, after trying everything they could to save the baby but couldn’t, consoles the husband before secretly directing him to a place in Memphis for a solution.

The next stop is present-day Aiken, South Carolina, documented by the more family voice of Avery Stafford who comes home to tend to her ailing senator father – and possibly replace him in the congress. She travels hours away from her home and fiancé to be here, but this trip means her life will never be the same ever again as she is challenged with the responsibility of uncovering her secret family history and solving a mystery that takes readers back and forth through time.

A Tale of Real Life Events

Although Lisa Wingate specifically states on the copyright page of ‘Before We Were Yours’ that the book is purely historical fiction, it is based on the true-life account of Georgia Tann’s merciless exploits towards children.

Tann, from around the 1920s to 1950s, governed the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, an orphanage home, which was supposed to be a safe haven for special children, but instead, it was quite the opposite. Spurred by the economic hardship and subsequent mass poverty that resulted from it, Tann began selling off the children under her care to rich families in and out of state.

As demand became too much followed by the pressure to meet up, she began using subtle means to steal children off their parents; from school children going missing from school to them being directly taken away by Tann’s law enforcement cohorts and lied to (just like the reader sees in Wingate’s book with Foss family). With all the pains and agonies caused to hundreds of families and thousands of children, knowing that Tann escaped a proper punishment for her crimes is such a shame in my opinion.


How good a novel is ‘Before We Were Yours’ for the reader?

Lisa Wingate’s ‘Before We Were Yours’ proves a very good book for the reader. Anyone who reads it will certainly enjoy Wingate’s dazzling storytelling ability, her somewhat poetic wordings, and her ability to logically solve so many mysteries created in the book.

Is Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours’ a true story?

Before We Were Yours’ is purely historical fiction but based on the real-life exploits of Georgia Tann, a woman who between the late 1920s and 50s, illegally acquired and sold more than five thousand children.

How successful was ‘Before We Were Yours’ after its release?

Lisa Wingate’s ‘Before We Were Yours’ saw almost immediate success after its 2017 release, selling millions of copies worldwide to become the New York Times bestseller.

Before We Were Yours Review
  • Plot
  • Transitioning
  • Language
  • Characterization
  • Setting
  • Impression

Before We Were Yours Review: A Fictional Thriller on George Tann's Child Trafficking Victims

‘Before We Were Yours’ by Lisa Wingate is a historical fiction based on an emotional story of how Georgia Tann’s child trafficking exploits impact thousands of children and their families – with a certain interest in the Foss family. The book not only exposes the reader to the ills of indulgence in social vices but also shows how fate has a way of compensating people who seem to have been marginalized and exploited.


  • An enjoyable piece with ageless stories
  • Investigative and informative
  • Smooth drifts between flashbacks and flash-forwards


  • Based on grueling stories about child molestation
  • No follow-ups to significant siblings of the Foss family
  • Slightly confusing arrangements of plots
Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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