Before and After

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

The novel ‘Before we were yours’ was fiction but it represented the many children who stolen and were then put up for adoption by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society (TCHS) and it’s founder Georgia Tann.
This book also by Lisa Wingate (together with Judy Christie) is about the reunion of the children and their families that follows that novel.
Wingate and Christie bring together survivors - often they were stolen from their birth parents and sold to new families. 
They interview them and tell their stories, many of which are heartbreaking. Some - like Stanley - are still searching for a lost sibling. Some - like the four sisters - have been indelibly marked by their mother’s suffering at the hands of TCHS and can finally lay her to rest.
Roscoe and Ella - a poor couple - spend far more money than they can afford hiring lawyers to try and find and get back their stolen children.
One of the most shocking tales is of the maternity ward where new mothers were lied to and told that their babies had died in the night and duped into signing adoption papers. 
The legacy of the cruel Georgia Tann and her home has deep roots and this book is moving and well-written. It is hard to believe these stories are true. Recommended for anyone with an interest in this part of history - you don’t need to have read the original novel.
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Such a sad book in some ways but uplifting in others. It makes me so mad that one woman can affect so many lives, in the past, present and future. A story of heartache and resilience that is necessary to be told so that the same mistakes are not repeated again.
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If you didn't know that the events collated here actually happened you would think this story was too far-fetched to be believable. That a combination of greed and a few amoral people created effects that has rippled down through generations made me both angry and incredibly sad. A harrowing but totally compelling read.
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‘Before and After’ is the companion book to ‘Before We Were Yours’, which really needs to be read first to set this one into context. What a powerful story, one where truth is even stranger than fiction, & a reminder of the ripple effect – so many people being affected, continuing on down through the generations. The silver lining is that at least some of the children involved were able to reunite with at least some family members, albeit often many decades later. Could such an ongoing injustice happen today? There had to be more than one person complicit. Others must have had suspicions. Can money still talk loudly enough to cover such inhumane actions? ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’, & this can apply to evil as much as to good. We must all be vigilant on behalf of the voiceless : this is the challenge we, as readers, are presented with. Thankyou, Lisa, for allowing yourself to become a catalyst.
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What a heartbreaking story - but also one of resilience, courage and hope.  While all the adoptees were victims of Georgia Tann, their experiences were all different. The authors wove their stories beautifully.

Highly recommended.
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Although I saw it all over the internet towards the end of last year (and notably on the Goodreads Choice Awards), I did not get around to reading Before We Were Yours. In fact, I did not realise that Before and After had anything to do with that book until I started reading. Suffice it to say, this non-fiction companion book has pushed last years Historical Fiction winner up on my TBR list! 

While dealing with the same basic situation, from what I understand Before and After is a very different beast. Opening with Lisa Wingate's booktour, this non-fiction almost memoir shows the effect that the book has had on the people who were personally affected by Georgia Tann and Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis. After giving a summary of the horrific actions of the woman and what can only be called her enablers in the business, politics and entertainement industries, Wingate passes the torch on to Judy Christie who presents us a number of life stories of the adults who, as children, were basically sold off to families. 

It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking to read these stories. For many of them, their adoptions were probably a good thing, taking them from families who were unable or unwilling to look after them and putting them into the bosoms of families who were able to give them a better life, from a purely material point of view. None of that, though, could make up for the pain and mental anguish caused by discovering that they were adopted. For many of them, the actions of their parents, Georgia Tann and even their adopted families have left them with scars. This is put across amazingly, with a huge amount of empathy, by Judy Christie as a narrator. 

As said above, I knew nothing about the book that started all of this going in. I loved Before and After so much, though, that I will be trying to get to that book sooner rather than later. Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie have pulled off an amazing feat, here, pulling together families and sharing stories that raise awareness of a subject that people may not know a lot about but should definitely learn more about.
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A real tear jerker read. The story of “before we were yours “ is now one stage further with real people describing what happened to them and/or the family.  Such emotions came over me that I had tears  as I was reading in many places. Trying to imagine how people knew that something was not right in their lives even before they knew they were adopted. Many had much much better lives after adoption and so it could be said that Tann was doing an admirable thing for unwanted children - however most were not unwanted, adoptee homes were never cleared before adoption and Tann became ultra rich from people’s desire to be parents.
Highly recommend this book .
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This book is a non fiction follow up to the based-on-fact novel "Before We were Yours" by Lisa Wingate. When Lisa wrote that novel, she didn't realise just how many children were affected and that the book would give adoptees, who knew little about their pasts, an insight and an entry point into discovering more about their background and ultimately their family histories.

Due to the subject matter, this book is a difficult, but compelling read, telling the real life stories of some of the children who were "processed" by the Tennessee Children's Home Society from the 1930s to the 1950s, where over 5000 children were offered to eager adoptive parents. Often presented as orphans or children from "good homes" who were no longer able to be looked after by their parents (eg a mother who died), the truth later emerged that many of the children were stolen - either directly from thier poor families, from desperate single mothers, and in some cases even from a maternity hospital where the mothers were simply told that their child had died overnight.

This is not a book to enjoy, it's a book that is painful, heart-wrenching, and yet somehow full of hope. The photographs add a poignancy and a reality to the stories

Disclosure: I received this book as an advance reader copy free from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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This book is interesting and heartbreaking, full of food for thought and it move me to tears.
It's a great read and I strongly recommend it.
Many thanks to Quercus Books and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Before and After by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate is a non fiction follow up to Before We were Yours by Lisa Wingate.
The story of illegal adoptions and stolen children and the heartbreaking accounts of the terrible treatment of children and unmarried mothers.
Thank you to NetGalley and Quercus Books for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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