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Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate

30/25 | Started 10.14.21 • Finished 11.01.21 | 4 stars

October's book club pick was this disturbing yet hopeful novel by Lisa Wingate. I came into having heard that the book was worth reading but not really knowing anything of the storyline. What unfolded was a heartbreaking story of loss and family, love and belonging.

In my multifold 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.

A transient houseboat family is broken apart by a true-life character who directed homes for orphans. Knowing that the book was based on factual events helped lend credence to the dramatic story, which definitely kept me turning the pages. I loved Wingate's descriptions of the setting, really diving in to the houseboat experience and life in the south. I could've done without the silly romantic thread, which I (and others in my book club) saw coming from a thousand miles away. Some found it heartwarming but I felt like it was too obvious and took away from what was going on. I also don't normally like books that jump back and forth through time but for some reason I found this one to be manageable and even enjoyable.

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.

I'm thankful that though the book has plenty of hard chapters to read, it did not take the sinister turn that I thought it would. And I really enjoyed the hopeful ending - that the ties of family and blood can be stronger than loss and time. I'd recommend this book for sure, though it's probably not for those who would have difficulty handling the descriptions of the atrocities committed at the kind of orphan home depicted. If you're on the fence, go into it knowing that there is a beautiful ending that will tug at your heartstrings.

A woman’s past need not predict her future.
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