Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours


Lisa Wingate

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Before We Were Yours Characters

Avery Judith Stafford

The protagonist and one of the narrators, along with May. Avery is a lawyer and the youngest child of Senator Wells and Honeybee Stafford. Throughout most of the story Avery is being groomed… read analysis of Avery Judith Stafford

Rill Foss/May Weathers Crandall

The second protagonist one of the narrators, along with Avery. At 12 years old, Rill is the oldest child of Briny and Queenie and takes care of her younger siblings: Camellia, Larkread analysis of Rill Foss/May Weathers Crandall

Trent Turner III

The grandson of Trent Turner Sr., whom Rill Foss cares for in the orphanage. After the death of his grandfather, Trent takes over the family real estate business on Edisto Island, where Judy Staffordread analysis of Trent Turner III

Judy Myers Stafford

Avery Stafford’s grandmother and the youngest daughter of Queenie and Briny Foss. Judy has dementia and lives in the memory care unit of an upscale senior care facility. Queenie and Briny were told… read analysis of Judy Myers Stafford

Trent Turner Sr./Stevie

One of the children kidnapped by Georgia Tann and a close friend of Rill Foss. Trent was renamed Stevie by Tann after being kidnapped with his sister (whom Tann called Sherry) on the… read analysis of Trent Turner Sr./Stevie
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Fern Foss/Beth Weathers

Rill Foss’s younger sister. Fern is about three when she and her siblings are kidnapped by Georgia Tann and put up for adoption through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Tann renames Fern, Beth Weathers… read analysis of Fern Foss/Beth Weathers

Camellia Foss/Iris Weathers

Rill Foss’s younger sister. Camellia is about 10 years old when she and her siblings are kidnapped by Georgia Tann and put up for illegal adoption. Unlike her other siblings, Camellia does not have… read analysis of Camellia Foss/Iris Weathers

Lark Foss/Bonnie Weathers

One of Rill Foss’s younger sisters. Lark is about six when she and her siblings are kidnapped by Georgia Tann and put up for adoption through the notorious Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Tann uses… read analysis of Lark Foss/Bonnie Weathers

Gabion “Gabby” Foss/Robby Weathers

Rill Foss’s younger brother. Gabion is called Gabby by his siblings and parents, Queenie and Briny Foss. He is about two years old when he and his siblings are kidnapped by Georgia Tannread analysis of Gabion “Gabby” Foss/Robby Weathers

Mary Anne “Queenie” Anthony

Rill Foss’s biological mother. Queenie ran away with Briny Foss when she was just a teenager and the two are deeply in love. Queenie loves being a mother to Rill, Camellia, Larkread analysis of Mary Anne “Queenie” Anthony

B. A. “Briny” Foss

Rill Foss’s biological father. Briny and Queenie got married when Queenie was just a teenager and soon began having children. Briny calls his wife Queenie because he considers her the queen of their shanty… read analysis of B. A. “Briny” Foss

Georgia Tann

A notorious child trafficker. Georgia Tann runs the Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. In conjunction with a loyal group of partners that include police officers and the owners of orphanages, Tann arranges… read analysis of Georgia Tann

Ida Murphy

One of Georgia Tann’s partners in the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Murphy runs the orphanage where Tann brings Rill Foss and her siblings along with Trent Turner Sr. (called Stevie) and his sister Sherryread analysis of Ida Murphy

Mrs. Pulnik

An employee at Ida Murphy’s orphanage, which is co-run by Georgia Tann. Mrs. Pulnik has a heavy accent that indicates she is possibly from Norway. She helps gather the children in the orphanage… read analysis of Mrs. Pulnik

Mr. Riggs

The groundskeeper at Ida Murphy and Georgia Tann’s orphanage and Murphy’s cousin. Mr. Riggs is a frightening character for most of the children at the orphanage and there are rumors that if he can… read analysis of Mr. Riggs

Old Zede

Briny Foss’s friend and neighbor on the Mississippi River. Zede becomes a father figure for Briny and teaches him and Queenie how to live on their shanty boat and navigate the river. Zede helps… read analysis of Old Zede


A homeless teenager whom Old Zede takes care of. Silas is told to look after the Foss children while their parents and Zede are at the hospital. However, Silas is outnumbered when police board the… read analysis of Silas

Senator Wells Stafford

Avery Stafford’s father. Wells’s mother, Judy Stafford, adores him—he is her pride and joy, especially after he followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming involved in politics. During the events of the story… read analysis of Senator Wells Stafford

Honeybee Stafford

Wells Stafford’s wife and Avery Stafford’s mother. Honeybee’s real name is never shared; Wells gave her the nickname early in their relationship and it is what their grandchildren call her. Honey has a… read analysis of Honeybee Stafford

Darren Sevier

The adoptive father of Rill and Fern Foss (renamed May and Beth Weathers). Darren is a wealthy music composer who adopts the girls to help alleviate his wife, Victoria’s, pain after several miscarriages and… read analysis of Darren Sevier

Victoria Sevier

The adoptive mother of Rill and Fern Foss (renamed May and Beth Weathers) and wife of Darren Sevier. Victoria suffers from extreme depression after suffering several miscarriages and delivering several stillborn babies. She adopts… read analysis of Victoria Sevier

Miss Dodd

A worker at Ida Murphy and Georgia Tann’s orphanage in Memphis. Dodd is hired at the orphanage sometime after Rill Foss and her siblings are brought there. Because Dodd is so new, Rill tries… read analysis of Miss Dodd


A young maid at Darren and Victoria Sevier’s home. Hootsie is also Zuma’s daughter. Hootsie initially doesn’t get along with Rill and Fern when they are adopted, but after the sisters run away… read analysis of Hootsie


Avery Stafford’s fiancé. Elliot and Avery grew up together and slowly became boyfriend and girlfriend as teenagers. Elliot and Avery decide to get married because it seems like the next logical step and they… read analysis of Elliot


A maid at Darren and Victoria Sevier’s house. Zuma is Hootsie’s mother. Zuma initially resents Rill and Fern when they are adopted because the Seviers spend no longer buy presents for Hootsie and… read analysis of Zuma


Wells Stafford’s busy assistant. Leslie manages schedules and appearances for both Wells and Avery in addition to grooming Avery to follow in her senator father’s footsteps. Leslie hires Ian to help her, and Avery… read analysis of Leslie

Arnelle “Arney” McCamey

The young woman who helps Rill and Fern run away from the Seviers to find their biological parents. Arnelle goes by Arney and dresses like a boy to hide her sex so that it will… read analysis of Arnelle “Arney” McCamey


Leslie’s intern. Ian is well-meaning and enjoys helping Avery. Avery uses him to keep tabs on May Crandall (later revealed to be Rill Foss) after May is admitted to the hospital for a… read analysis of Ian


Trent Turner III’s son. Jonah’s mother was married to another man when she had an affair with Trent and conceived Jonah. Jonah’s mother died in a car accident and Trent only found out that… read analysis of Jonah


The middle daughter of Wells and Honeybee Stafford, and Courtney’s mom. Allison also has triplet boys and is frequently overwhelmed with the task of taking care of them. Because of this, she relies… read analysis of Allison


An older boy with whom Rill bonds in the orphanage. James asks Rill to be his girlfriend and she agrees. They talk and hold hands, but James is abruptly sent away when Ida Murphy finds… read analysis of James


Trent Turner Sr.’s sister. Sherry and Trent are picked up off the side of the road by Georgia Tann. Shortly after this, Sherry disappears, leaving Trent alone in the orphanage. As an adult… read analysis of Sherry


The woman who gives birth to a stillborn child in the Prelude of the book. When Christine gives birth, the doctors give her drugs that make her forget everything. The doctors tell Christine’s father that… read analysis of Christine
Minor Characters
Elliot’s mother. Bitsy and Honeybee Stafford are close friends and belong to the same social circles. Like Honeybee, Bitsy wants to control the wedding plans for Elliot (her only child) and Avery.
Avery’s 10-year-old niece and Allison’s oldest child. Avery and Courtney are very close, and Avery frequently mourns the fact that Courtney is growing up so fast. Avery tries to spend time with Courtney as a way to destress after public appearances.
The oldest daughter of Wells and Honeybee Stafford. Missy has teenage children and fills the role of “perfectionist daughter” in the Stafford family.
Shad Arthur Foss
One of the twins born to Queenie and Briny Foss. He is stolen in the hospital from his parents, who are told that he was stillborn, and then he is sold via adoption.