Thursday, January 9, 2020

Before and After & The Revisioners

Before and After by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate is a true follow-up to Before We Were Yours (by Lisa Wingate). Before We Were Yours was a fictional novel about a family whose children were taken into the Tennessee Children's Home Society.  Before and After is "The Incredible Real-life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Society".

Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home Society

The book is written in a very read-able way, with short chapters of the stories of some of those who were either stolen or taken to the Home.  Miss Georgia Tann ran the home, and would sell the children that were brought there.  If the parents showed up to get their children they were told that either the children were dead or had been adopted and the parents would not be able to find them.

The authors, along with one of the survivors of the Home, organized an informal reunion in Memphis (where the Home had been) after Ms. Wingate's book touring for Before We Were Yours brought out survivors of the Home to her talks/readings. Some of those attending the reunion were children of survivors.  The Home had been run from 1920 to 1950, so many survivors were either gone, or were seventy or older.

The whole thing is just an incredible story.  Though it is not necessary, I would recommend reading Before We Were Yours, before reading Before and After.

The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton is, at the heart of the novel, a story of mothers and daughters. It travels back and forth from 1855 to 1824 to 2017. Josephine was the daughter of slaves in 1855 and soon her family escaped to New Orleans and traveled a bit north.  By 1924, Josephine owned a large farm, is widowed, and has a grown son.  In 2017, Ava, the great-great granddaughter of Josephine was dealing with her son and her white mother-in-law. She kept a picture of Josephine with her at all times, for strength and purpose.
The Revisioners

The novel deals with racism, generational memory, and the strength of mothers and daughters. I would say that the generational memory is what holds the characters together. It is a fascinating book!

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