Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. 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.
“But the love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos, or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat. It is as ever present as a pulse.”
This historical fiction novel is based on true events that occurred between the 1930’s and 1950’s. It is the heartbreaking, shocking, true story of the orphanage director, Georgia Tann, who essentially kidnapped children to give to wealthy clients while working for the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. The families portrayed in this book are entirely fictional but represent actual families that were involved and victimized. What was even more heartbreaking for me is that I was completely unaware of this piece of history. As for the writing itself, I always feel especially engaged when stories shift between the past and present and this book has that in spades – it keeps you thinking “just one more chapter”. The disgusting and reprehensible acts of Georgia Tann is something that will stay with me for a long time. Even though this is a sad story, it is beautifully written and I highly recommend as a MUST READ for everyone!
I rated this HEARTBREAKING book 5 / 5 stars!