Happy New Year!!! Who is ready for a new year with some new books? I am and I’m blessed to be able to do something that I love so much such as reading and writing. How many have already set up their reading challenge for the year? I did too and my goal is to read 32 books (or more) this year. I hope you all have a wonderful 2021 and I’m looking forward to sharing the books that I read this year with you!

Before and After by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate is a nonfiction book detailing the real-life stories of families separated, for various reasons, due to giving some or all of their children up for adoption via the Tennessee Children’s Home Society (TCHS). This adoption scheme, run by Georgia Tann who uses underhanded methods for procuring children for their adoption services such as falsifying children’s birth certificates and making up their family history to facilitate quick sales. Unfortunately due to Tann’s political and other powerful connections in Tennessee, these adoption records were sealed for years to hide her misdeeds and corruption. Years later, survivors and their descendants find out the truth about Georgia Tann and TCHS when author, Lisa Wingate, writes and finds a publisher to publish her novel “Before We Were Yours”. The book inspires many to come forward with their stories and own research into their family history. 

This book is told from Lisa Wingate’s point of view – she briefly explains the flood of emails and calls she received from numerous survivors of TCHS and their loved ones. One survivor, the youngest survivor of Georgia Tann’s house of horrors, pitches the idea of hosting a “reunion” or gathering of all the remaining TCHS survivors so they can share their experiences, or simply listen or to share resources for ways of getting information to find blood relatives or be reunited with family members. At the time Lisa receives this email, she’s pretty busy with her book tour and is worried she may not have the time, energy or required attention to detail to plan something of that magnitude since she’s tracking other details related to her book tour. 

As Lisa continues to receive emails with various survivors’ and their descendant’s stories and many years of research, she realizes that these stories should be recorded so they are not forgotten. It is during this time that Lisa is invited to speak at a memorial created for the many children who did not survive while under Georgia Tann’s care. The person coordinating the event mentions having survivors at the event would be an honor. So, Lisa does two things: 

  1. She calls her friend and fellow author, Judy Christie, to see if she’d be willing to collect the stories of the survivors who have contacted her. Ms. Christie readily agrees to undertake the task.
  2. Then Lisa contacts the survivor, Connie, who contacted her about the gathering to mention the event she’ll be attending in Tennessee and that she thinks it could be a way to get the survivors together. 

Judy begins her work traveling to speak with different survivors who are willing to share, but unable to travel to the event in Tennessee in October and Connie begins working to prepare for the gathering and informing survivors of the event. 

Once Judy is introduced, the story shifts to her point of view as she chronicles each survivors’ story – their history as they remember it and as they’ve pieced it together over the years. Judy shares each story with us and we’re able to see the strength, resourcefulness, determination and hope that each one has. We’re given the opportunity to share in the joys of their successes and in their disappointment when the trail runs cold or they find their blood relatives who do not wish to meet them yet or when they find out the person they’ve been searching for has already passed away. The event gains so much attention that seats fill up quickly and the coordinator has to see if Lisa can do another event to accommodate the public’s interest in the story. They also decide to plan a more private event for the survivors who would be attending. 

The book is good – although the subject is pretty depressing, there are many uplifting – inspiring stories of love, determination, strength, family, faith and hard work that the book is not nearly as depressing as it could be. Both authors do a fabulous job pulling everything together smoothly and conveying these tragedies. Like the historical fiction junkie that I am, I read “Before We Were Yours” and couldn’t believe that something so despicable happened and that many are just now learning this tidbit of Tennessee’s history. I’m glad the authors decided to collect these stories to compile and share with us. The book is definitely worth the read – I recommend it to anyone, but especially those with a love for learning about history and historical events. I purchased my hardcover copy at WalMart (surprisingly) for about $20, but if you’re not looking to buy your own copy, you can check your local library to see if they have an available copy or if they can get one for you. If they don’t, then it doesn’t hurt to check a used bookstore if you have one close to you or are ok to travel. Lastly, you can purchase a hardcover copy from Barnes and Noble for $26.00 ($23.50 for Members) or you can purchase the paperback copy for $17.00.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading my book review(s)!! I just found out that my last book review didn’t publish like it was supposed to, so I have published that one today, you can read it here. If you want to read some of the other book reviews, you can read them here and don’t forget to check back again for more!