This was a SheReads summer read that I didn’t get to until late.
Length: 338 pages
Setting: Memphis, Tennessee in 1939, and Aiken, South Carolina, present day
Summary: We follow two stories separated in time. In 1939, we are told the story of Rill. She and her siblings lived on a riverboat that traveled the Mississippi River. Her mother has a difficult birth and she and her siblings are sent to the Tennessee Children’s Home where they are sent off for adoptions, completely against their will. in the present day, Avery has left her law office in New York City to come home. Her father was diagnosed with cancer and she’s being groomed to replace him in the Senate. Avery gets wind of a mystery involving her grandmother. Unfortunately, her grandmother has Alzheimer’s and can’t tell her own story. So, Avery does some digging and finds out her grandmother was adopted and one of Rill’s siblings.
Final thoughts: A powerful story. The idea of poor kids being kidnapped (especially if they were blond and blue-eyed) to make the orphanage director rich is appalling. The story is fiction, but based on reality. The abuse described at the Tennessee Children’s Home was horribly believable. Almost worse than the physical or sexual abuse was the constant state of unknowing. Rill was old enough to understand things weren’t quite right, but not old enough to understand what was going on. Her siblings just disappeared. One died, and the adults just pretended she never existed. Others were adopted. At least Rill got to stay with one sister and find others when she was grown.
Wingate doled out the details of the old story and its connection to the present at just the right rate. The only element that felt out of place was the love story between Avery and Trent. It felt like Wingate included the sexual tension so that women would read the story. I don’t need the romance to interest me. She could have had just a professional or friendly relationship with Trent without him having to break up a relationship, especially since she was such a strong female character.
Title comes from: It refers to the lives of Rill and her siblings before they were taken from their parents and adopted.
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #64 for the year
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