Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours - Lisa Wingate

The year was 1939 and they were rounding up the unattended children like stray animals, taking them to Mrs. Murphy where she would get them ready. Mrs. Murphy was a part of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage which was ran by Ms. Tamm. They rounded up the five of them promising them that they were going to see their mama and daddy. It was a scam but the children fell for it as their daddy had just left with Queenie and the baby to get help at the hospital as this birth was not going as planned. With children standing inside the fenced-in yard, the building didn’t look much like a hospital as the car approached it. They wouldn’t answer their questions as they ushered inside the tall structure, it wasn’t a hospital but where exactly were they? They tried to stay together but it was difficult as the reality of what was occurring was beginning to fall into place for a few of them and they began to resist while the others had different feelings about their current situation. The lies that were being spewed, the viewings that were being held for prospective parents and the emotions that the individuals felt as they went through the process, I felt that I was a part of this lie as the story was unfolding as I knew where these children had come from and yet I had no voice to tell the truth, to end this horrible drama. These children had no voice and I could not speak for them, what would become of them and what and where would this all end?


Enter into the present day, Avery comes home to see her father, a successful senator. She also visits her grandmother who resides in a nursing home. She meets May, who is another residence at the nursing home and Avery notices a picture on her table. This picture resembles her grandmother but how can that be? Avery decides to investigate the picture and while doing so, she digs up a secret in her family’s past. I really enjoyed this section of the novel as it began to bring the novel together and give voice to the children who had been so quiet. I enjoy looking at old photographs, thinking about their history and I thought it was remarkable that Avery took the time and effort to look into the photograph’s history. I really enjoyed this novel and I was surprised to learn that although most of the characters in this novel are fictional, the orphanage and Ms. Tann are true historical figures. Thank you to the author for bringing this part of history to our attention.