I was provided an ARC of this book free of charge by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I’m always fascinated by books that include real-life history and stories in them. The “Dear America” diaries were some of my favorites growing up, and it’s always been one of my favorite ways to learn history. It helps solidify that these were real people going through real things. And as time moves forward, the history starts getting closer and closer. It’s easy to keep things distant when you’re reading about the Titanic.

It’s a lot harder when the story takes place less than a hundred years in the past. Times that family of mine could have lived through.

I’m not sure exactly why I keep recalling Boxcar Children for this, because it’s not really the same in the slightest, but I think there’s an element of the children forced to grow too fast and rely on each other more than most that brings that to mind. Wingate does a fantastic job of weaving a modern-day story of a woman realizing that her family isn’t all it seems to be painted as, in with the tale of a group of siblings separated from their family and put through an absolute circle of hell.

The stories of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and what Georgia Tann was up to there are horrifying. I’m almost afraid to delve too far into the real-life horrors that happened there because if what we see in the book is anything to judge by…these aren’t pretty pictures. It is a harrowing tale of the cruelty of greed, and the desperation of hope, and still manages to bring everything together at the end into a very satisfying ending. Wingate also does what I wish more authors would: there’s a trace of romance, but it’s never forced–the triangle never seems contrived–and the way that story ends seems much more realistic than most of the romance tropes I’ve seen. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

All these characters seem incredibly real, as if I could go down to the river (and while I live on a river, alas, it is not the same one) and see Arcadia sitting there, proud as ever with the whole family on board. I’ll also say that the character of Arney has a very special place in my heart, but I won’t say why, because spoilers.

I honestly curled up and read this book all in one day. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I had to go somewhere and I brought my Kindle with me, because I couldn’t stand being so close to the end and not seeing it through right then. A story very well told, and one I would definitely recommend…though if you’re already feeling a little down, I might wait until a sunny day. This is not for the faint of heart.

I’ll be interested to check out other things Wingate has written. She weaves a fine story.

Rating: **** (Highly Recommended)
BEFORE WE WERE YOURS is due for publication on June 6th, 2017.


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