Now that the year is well on its way and we have settled in to our routines, put away your phone before bed and grab a good book to help you wind down. Here are two great alternatives.
BEFORE WE WERE YOURS -Lisa Wingate
Rating: 5 stars
Before We Were Yours was a Goodreads Choice Winner for 2017 in the Historical Fiction category and is the powerful story of a young family who were torn apart by an evil woman, Georgia Tann. Tann, an American child trafficker, ran an adoption agency. The story is told from the viewpoint of two women, Rill in the 1930’s and Avery in the present day.
Rill and her brothers and sisters live a happy life on a Mississippi River shanty-boat until their mother is rushed to hospital. Rill and her siblings are left alone on the boat and are kidnapped by Georgia Tann and placed in a home until they can be sold to a family who wants a child.
In the present day, Avery is approached by a woman at a senior citizens home who recognizes her bracelet. Avery is intrigued by the connection to her.
Before We Were Yours follows the journey of both these women, as Rill, renamed May, struggles to understand what has happened. She is desperate to keep her family together. Avery slowly learns the truth about her family heritage while also forced to confront some truths about her own life.
This book is beautifully written and one of the best books I have read in a while. I was totally engrossed in both Avery and Rill’s story and I liked the way the book flipped between time periods until the two storylines connect. Before We Were Yours is also excellently researched – see the note below. The author mixes fact and fiction very well. A highly recommended book that completely grabbed me from the start.
I will leave you with the author’s dedication in the front of the book:
“For the hundreds who vanished
And for the thousands who didn’t
May your stories
Not be forgotten
For those who help today’s orphans
Find forever homes
May you always know the value
Of your work
And your love”
While the main characters in Before We Were Yours are fictional, the book is based on real events. Georgia Tann was a real person who arranged many illegal adoptions through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society for huge fees from the 30’s to 50’s. She told sometimes birth mothers their children had died and gave children up for adoption without birth parent’s consent.
Protected by the judges and other influential people she had in her pocket, Georgia even advised Eleanor Roosevelt on adoption issues and child welfare. Unfortunately, she died of cancer in 1950 before she could be brought to justice.
Many children died after being kidnapped by her organization, and it is estimated that over 5 000 children were stolen by Tann and her society. Read the New York Post article here.
MOLLY’S GAME – Molly Bloom
Rating: 3,5 stars
Molly’s Game is about the real-life events of the author who, for several years, ran Hollywood’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game with guests like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck.
Molly, a highly intelligent small-town girl who was an “Olympic level” skier with an opportunity to go to law school, choses to work as a cocktail waitress in LA. In a series of smart, ambitious and fearless moves she gets involved in running a poker game for the rich.
The book is fast paced and engaging. I particularly enjoyed the insight into the lives of the ultra-privileged clients. I did however struggle to understand the choices Molly made which lead to her life in gambling.
Aaron Sorkin recently made a movie on Molly’s Game, starring Jessica Chastain that I am yet to watch, but have heard excellent reviews. I am a huge fan of both Aaron Sorkin and Jessica Chastain. Molly herself was deeply involved in the production of the movie so I imagine it will be an accurate portrayal, but the book is definitely worth a read as well.
For more of our book reviews, click here.