Historical fiction has the capacity to entertain, educate, or horrify. In BEFORE WE WERE YOURS Lisa Wingate manages all three. Through one family’s nightmare, Wingate explores the atrocities that took place at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society between 1920 and1950 under the cruel hand of Georgia Tann.
As an advocate for survivors of modern day human trafficking, I was struck by the parallels between this past reality and the present. In both cases, vulnerable, marginalized populations are targeted for profitable gain by people who understand the weaknesses in our legal system and social bias. Victims experience crimes on top of crimes, loss of freedom is the beginning, but not the end, of their torture.
Wingate recognizes pain of this depth needs to be balanced with a storyline that allows the reader a moment to breath, where the conflict surrounds community expectations and lost love instead of abuse, manipulation, and murder.To this end, every other chapter follows present-day Avery Stafford as she uncovers her family’s involvement with this tainted institution. Avery’s story serves it’s purpose: managing the unraveling narrative and demonstrating the lasting wake and impact of tragedy.
There is much to dissect in this book. It kept me up past one in the morning and kept my mind lingering long after.
After working for years in technology, Abby turned to writing, and in 2017 her debut novel, I LIKED MY LIFE, was published by St. Martin’s Press. She’s also a human rights advocate, and when she’s not busy watching “the comedy show that is her children,” she manages to find time for one of her favorite activities, reading. Visit Abby’s website.