“Before We Were Yours” is told from the standpoint of two young women, Avery and Rill, separated by decades and, even more so, by their social standing. Avery is the daughter of a successful politician and very proper mother, whereas Rill is the child of a young couple scraping by, living on the river. Avery has had everything come easy to her. Rill discovers that the system is rigged against her family when she, along with her younger siblings are snatched away to live in an orphanage. Rill is only accepted into a family to help settle her younger sister.
Avery meets an older lady, May, while on the campaign trail with her father and a photograph featuring her grandmother Judy (who is nearly lost to Alzheimer’s disease) piques her interest. How are this cranky old lady and her sweet grandmother connected?
We follow Avery and Rill’s journeys, as Rill’s future intersects with Avery’s past. Avery has so many unanswered questions. May is unwilling to answer them and Judy is seemingly unable to. Avery channels her inner Miss Marple and follows the clues left behind in Judy’s old journals to discover connections that span the generations.
“Before We Were Yours” is based on real life events. Countless children were taken from loving parents seemingly because the authorities thought that they could be given a better life in new families. How Lisa Wingate captures a Rill’s feelings of pain and rejection are incredibly moving, especially the events that lead to her eventual acceptance of her lot. Avery feels constrained by her family name and feels the burden of what is expected in her future. The two young women’s stories show that we are not to be prisoners of our past or our future and we can change our seemingly destined path by the choices we choose to make.