Before We Were Yours Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

Craftily written by Lisa Wingate, 'Before We Were Yours' is the story of a family of children forced into the Tennessee Children's Home Society and the lives they led as a result. Use this lesson to encourage deeper discussion of this novel.

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours is a spell-binding book about orphans, adoption, and the horrors that some children had to endure at the hands of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society. The questions below can be used to guide discussion of this fascinating novel and to help bring light to some of the important elements found within.

Thoughts About the Story

  1. When it was said that the Foss twins had died during childbirth, did you believe it right away or did you suspect that something was off in some way?
  2. Discuss why Briny never returned for the children. Was this intentional? Accidental? Do you think he should have known what would become of them and tried to prevent it?
  3. Discuss the relationship between the children. How did this relationship change the longer they were at the Tennessee Children's Home Society?
  4. Discuss Rill as the oldest child. What role did she play among her siblings? What happened when she was no longer able to play that role? How did Rill change throughout the story?
  5. Discuss the Foss family's existence at the beginning of the story. Where did they live? How did they live? Was this life sustainable or was something bound to eventually happen to this family given their circumstances? Do you feel that Queenie and Briny were irresponsible parents or were they simply doing the best they could?
  6. When the Seviers adopted the girls, they seemed to be good people. Do you think they knew the truth behind the organization from which they adopted them? If they did know, should it have been written into the story? And if so, what should/could they have done about it?
  7. Looking at Avery, how did she change throughout the story? How did she grow? What did she discover about herself as a person?
  8. How do you think Avery's story will end? Will she maintain a relationship with her new found family? Will she develop a relationship with Trent? Will she go back to living her high profile way of life?
  9. Discuss the picture of the sisters that was found on the wall in the old home. What might this picture have symbolized? Why was it such an important part of the story?

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