My mother and I are both readers, but only once in a while do we recommend a book to one another that we like. She skews towards easy beach multigenerational sagas and anything by Nora Roberts. I generally do not. When we do find something that we both like, it is usually one that is an emotional wringer and then we blame each other for suggesting the book. I think that she wanted to punch me after she read “Me Before You”. I have similar feelings after having read this one. Thanks, Mother.
The source material is mined from real life events that are so horrific that it seems impossible to have taken place at all, let alone over the course of decades. Basically a sociopath was able to garner enough clout to have people, at best, look the other way and, at worst, assist her in stealing children to sell for profit. Housing them in abhorrent conditions and then parading them around like show ponies to wealthy people desperate to have children but unable to, Georgia Tann trafficked children for several decades. Caitlin_D wrote a great review about Tann’s biography here. I’m curious, but I think I need a breather from this book before I can jump into the non-fictional version.
The book goes back and forth between two stories: the five Foss children in 1930’s Tennessee and the present day Stafford family in South Carolina. It’s obvious from the start that there is a connection between the families, but the logistics of that build until the end of the book.
The story of the Foss children, told through the voice of the oldest sibling, Rill, who is 12, is the more compelling one. When their parents must leave for the hospital to seek help for the difficult delivery of breech twins, the five Foss children are taken from their home on the river and placed into the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Rill tries to keep her siblings safe and close to her but one by one, they begin to disappear as they wait for their parents to return for them.
The present day story line finds Avery, a member of a respected political Southern family, uncovering family secrets after her Grandmother begins to suffer from dementia. Both address the ties of family but the struggle to keep secrets hidden for political and social optics can’t hold a candle to the desperation of a 12-year-old girl trying to hang onto her siblings.
It was obviously a heart wrenching read, but a good book. There needs to be a better way to talk about books that are hard to read but worth it because enjoy doesn’t cut it. Appreciate? Maybe.