My foray down the electronic book path was short lived. I missed pages – turning them, carrying them, reading them – but what I really missed was owning the physical version of something that I loved and subsequently gifting that treasure to a friend who I knew would appreciate it (more on this shortly). Apparently, I am in the minority on this stance.
Last week during a seven hour plane ride, I was more than delighted to spend most of it with my eyes and nose in the book Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate. Curious as to how my fellow passengers were spending their time, I took a stroll to the back of the plane and slowly journeyed back to my middle seat towards the front of the plane. Every. Single. Person -my children included- was on an electronic device (except for those that were napping). I did not see a single other physical book besides the one in the hands of the handsome guy next to me – my husband. And most of the electronic devices had moving images on them. I didn’t know whether to feel proud, or old or sad, or some combo of the three.
I wouldn’t ever dare climb aboard any form of transport without some sort of book tucked into my carry on. Yes, my computer was also tucked inside my carry on. I don’t go very many places without that either, but reading to me is a way more satisfying way to allocate a sustained, interruption free, allotment of time. And this book and it’s topic was well worth my time and attention. Through this book and it’s fictional tale of horrifying true life events, I learned about a child racketeering organization in Memphis that went unchecked for over 30 years.
Children were literally stolen from their parents on roadsides, front stoops, houseboats and hospitals to be included in the inventory of the “adoption agency” to then be sold to the highest bidder. If you were poor and struggling and 50 miles outside of Memphis during the years of 1920 to 1951 your children were at risk of being inextricably and irrevocably plucked from your lives. Unfathomable. The real life antagonist – Georgia Tann – made millions on the transactions and has been referred to as ” the most prolific serial killer” in history.
This story is told via the Foss and Stafford families and their intertwined lives alternating between present day and the real time events in the 1950’s. There is some romance and self discovery and interesting family dynamics, but it is the details of the “Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage” that kept me turning the pages of my airline companion.
While I am reading I often like to think about who I can bestow my book upon. Who will love the book as much as I and who will have the most palpable reaction to the story? My friend Karen sprung immediately to mind. I can see her well manicured and accessorized hand grabbing my arm with her eyes wide and her face urgent “Linda!! How could this have happened?? I can’t stop thinking about these children and their families.”
This story will not easily leave your psyche as you ponder the evilness of Georgia and the painful ramifications of her operations for countless families. The fact that it is a little known part of American History is frightening. I highly recommend you grab this book and read it.