Author: Lisa Wingate
Published: June 6, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
Description from Amazon
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shanty boat. 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 the dark truth. 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 to 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–Lisa 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.
I enjoyed this book. I was a little worried at the beginning since Avery’s family is so wrapped up in politics and I was waiting for the author to head off into a political rant in the middle of the book, but she never did. I did appreciate how the Staffords, regardless of their political standing, dealt with life in the spotlight. Those of us not in public service, are far too often over-critical and demanding of every aspect of a politician’s life. I liked how Wingate focused on the humanity and family of a major political figure and their response to public scrutiny. And as y’all know, I’m all about some historical, familial mystery, and this book delivered that in spades! I’m from a family who has traced its line all the way back to the Norman invasion, so we know exactly who we are and there’s not much left to be discovered. But Avery goes after her family history with a passion and I love it!
I’ll admit that I’d never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, but I can’t say I’m surprised by the corruption and child trafficking. I was a little surprised by how deep the corruption went. That Georgia Tann was a business genius, but an evil one! She could fit in with any villain from any fairy tale! I was a little disappointed with the resolution of the story. There were certain loose ends that ended up staying loose and unanswered and I found that really frustrating. Finding out the identity of Avery’s grandmother was somewhat unsatisfying. I spent the whole book becoming emotionally attached to the Foss kids, but then with the ending, there were too many random add-ins and others left out, and that kept me from being totally happy. But overall, a good read that I would recommend to anyone looking for historical fiction or a good mystery.