Published by Ballantine Books on June 6th 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Challenge Theme: A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner (2017 Best Historical Fiction)
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Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.
This is another historical fiction book that I fell in love with! This book pulled me in from the start and kept me hooked until the end. The story was heartbreaking but beautiful, the characters were rich and multi-dimensional, the back and forth in time was so well done. It made me feel a range of emotions from start to finish. Parts of the book were based in truth about the awfulness of Georgia Tann & the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which made it so much more of an interesting read. I can’t imagine what all those parents, whose children were virtually stolen from them, went through. It is also horrific that so many children didn’t even survive the group homes. That hurts my heart! After reading this I am interested to read some of the books about Tann that the author used to write her story. This is definitely a must read!
There are a few things that are left answered but they don’t take away from the book. If anything they add to it. I would love to know what really happened to Camiella, where Gabion ended up, if Judy’s twin survived BUT I know why it was important that we don’t get to know those things. Not finding those things out adds to the emotion of it all. Things don’t always need to be tied up in a nice little bow. There are a huge number of parents & siblings who have no idea what happened to their loved ones so it makes sense that May is left with unanswered questions and so is the reader.
“Life is not unlike cinema. Each scene has its own music, and the music is created for the scene, woven to it in ways we do not understand. No matter how much we may love the melody of a bygone day or imagine the song of a future one, we must dance within the music of today, or we will always be out of step, stumbling around in something that doesn’t suit the moment.”
“Well, that’s one of the paradoxes of life. You can’t have it all. You can have some of this and some of that or all of this and none of that. We make the trade-offs we think are best at the time.”
“A woman’s past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she chooses. Her own music. To hear the tune, she must only stop talking. To herself, I mean. We’re always trying to persuade ourselves of things.”
“In my multi-fold years of life, I have learned that most people get along as best they can. They don’t intend to hurt anyone. It is merely a terrible by-product of surviving.”
“People don’t come into our lives by accident.”
“One of the best things a father can do for his daughter is let her know that she has met his expectations.”
“The good life demands a lot of maintenance”