7 Historical Books Like Before We Were Yours

Historical Family Fictions

Dive into the depths of emotional storytelling and uncover hidden truths as we go on a journey inspired by the poignant narrative of “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate. This bestselling novel blends historical fiction and deep familial themes and has touched readers’ hearts worldwide. If you were captivated by the gripping tale of the Foss children and their unforgettable journey, then you’re in for a treat.

In this post, we’re exploring a carefully curated list of books that resonate with similar themes – from heart-wrenching family sagas to powerful stories of resilience and the triumph of the human spirit. Each book promises to transport you through time and emotion, offering a window into lives marked by struggle, hope, and the enduring power of love. So, grab a cozy blanket and prepare to be immersed in stories that echo the emotional depth and historical richness of “Before We Were Yours.”

7 Books Like Before We Were Yours

We know that ‘Before We Were Yours’ is very emotional and dark. Throughout the story, we see many crime aspects, like kidnapping, drugs, and abuse. The author describes the hidden face of society and gives us some moral lessons. Stories like these are rich in emotional depth, exploring complex family dynamics, secrets, and the resilience of the human spirit. They tackle heart-wrenching topics, which evoke strong emotional responses from readers.

I will talk about seven books similar to Before We Were Yours. Many of these books employ dual timelines or multiple perspectives, weaving together stories from the past and present. This narrative style keeps you engaged and adds suspense and discovery to the story. Let’s go!

NameKey FocusTropes
Pachinko by Min Jin LeeA sweeping historical saga following four generations of a Korean family, beginning in the early 1900s.Multigenerational family saga, Korean-Japanese cultural and historical context, immigrant experience, resilience in the face of adversity, identity and belonging, the impact of war and colonialism, societal discrimination, personal and collective struggles, love and sacrifice, the significance of heritage, the quest for a better life.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferA historical novel set in the aftermath of World War II, told through letters.Epistolary format, post-World War II setting, community and resilience during hardship, power of literature and reading, war’s impact on everyday life, romantic and platonic relationships, exploration of the human spirit, historical and cultural insights, charming and quirky characters, reconstruction and renewal after war, the power of storytelling.
Burial Rites by Hannah KentA historical fiction novel set in 19th century Iceland that tells the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland, as she awaits her fate and reflects on the circumstances that led to her conviction for murder.Historical setting, death row narrative, exploration of a real historical figure, themes of justice and injustice, Icelandic culture and landscape, psychological depth, societal norms and gender roles, rural isolation, moral ambiguity, narrative of redemption and understanding, stark and atmospheric storytelling.
Circe by Madeline MillerA reimagining of the story of Circe, a minor goddess in Greek mythology, famous for her role in Homer’s “Odyssey.”Mythological retelling, strong female protagonist, transformation and empowerment, witchcraft and magic, interactions with famous mythological figures, themes of isolation and exile, exploration of immortality, feminist perspective on classic mythology, personal growth and identity, love and loss, clash of gods and mortals.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgA contemporary novel set in the planned community of Shaker Heights, Ohio.Suburban setting, complex family dynamics, secrets and lies, ethical dilemmas, class and race issues, the artist’s life contrasted with conventional lifestyles, teenage angst and discovery, juxtaposition of order and disruption, moral ambiguity, exploration of motherhood and identity, societal norms and expectations.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensA coming-of-age novel set in the marshlands of the North Carolina coast that follows the life of Kya Clark, known as the “Marsh Girl,” who grows up isolated from the community and becomes a suspect in a murder case.Nature as a central theme, isolation and abandonment, survival and resilience, societal judgment and exclusion, mystery and murder investigation, coming-of-age journey, exploration of human connection with nature, romantic and familial relationships, small-town dynamics, self-education and growth, prejudice and misunderstanding.
The Great Alone by Kristin HannahA dramatic novel set in the 1970s, following the Allbright family as they move to Alaska seeking a fresh start.Survival in extreme conditions, family drama, impact of war on veterans, coming-of-age story, domestic abuse, love and resilience, the beauty and brutality of nature, Alaskan wilderness setting, community support and isolation, coping with mental illness, exploration of human endurance and spirit.
List of Books Like Before We Were Yours

1. Pachinko

This is a historical saga following the story of Sunja’s family over 100 years ago as they moved from Korea to Japan in the 1800s. It is so vast in exploring the social and political dynamic between the Koreans and the Japanese at a point in time when the Japanese were trying to colonize Korea and other Asian countries. But at the same time, exploring specific human experiences that we might not resonate specifically with is so intimate and dynamic, which opens our eyes anyway.

The author, Min Jin Lee, spoke at the Sydney Writers Festival, and her motivations behind writing this book made me fall in love with it even more. The first thing she said that stuck with me was that she loves to observe and listen to other people, to see how others behave and their motivations.

Every character goes through a specific emotional experience. Also, the way she explores it opens your eyes to what people have to deal with, even if we don’t have to deal with it ourselves.

Another thing that she mentioned was that this entire book becomes one giant metaphor for the live game. Jin Lee is an American Korean who lived in Japan at one point, and she was saying how the game was. Pachinko is a traditional Korean game, and everyone who plays it knows that the game is rigged and you can’t win it. However, everyone plays it anyway. She says that ends up representing life for Koreans, life for women, and life for everyone. The author’s writing is lyrical and transformative, similar to Before We Were Yours.


Author: Min Jin Lee
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Asian American Literature & Fiction
Number Of Pages: 512
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This book follows the story of a war journalist, Juliet Ashton, in 1946. One day, she receives a strange message in a book delivered to her door from the Guernsey Channel Islands that causes her to drop everything and move there. When she gets there, she meets the most incredible, unique, quirky cast of characters who are all part of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The book is narrated in a set or series of letters from all characters on the Guernsey Channel Islands. It gives us an intimate insight into the experiences of people struggling with war, betrayal, loss, and love. Also, it is so hopeful and light-hearted.

One of the strongest messages of this book was the power of good people and good literature to bring everyone together, even in the direst or gloomy of situations. So, it is a hopeful message, especially during a pandemic. The author of Before We Were Yours also gives the same message to readers. If you’re looking for a lighter historical fiction book that will be easier to read, I recommend this.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Author: Mary Ann Shaffer
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: World War II Historical Fiction
Number Of Pages: 290
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

3. Burial Rites

The book follows the story of Agnes, who is the last person to be put on death row in Iceland. We follow her story unfolding against a stark backdrop. Fun fact! While writing this book, Hannah Kent, an Australian, moved to Iceland and lived in a little Icelandic cabin. She wanted her writing to emulate the landscape she was writing about. So, you can say that her writing is very descriptive, lyrical, and highly transformative.

We follow the woman’s final days before execution unfolds throughout this book. Also, we are slowly drawn into her past as we watch the brutal murder of her former master. Hannah Kent writes a highly emotive and haunting landscape that we found in Before We Were Yours. So I would highly recommend this if you want to be transported into a vast, shocking existence that we could not imagine ourselves.

Burial Rites

Author: Hannah Kent
Average Rating: 4.3/5
Category: Psychological Literary Fiction
Number Of Pages: 353
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

4. Circe

This is mythological, historical fiction, and its cover is stunning. Like Before We Were Yours, the Book was an emotional and intimate look into an infamous story many people already know. So, we follow the story of Circe, one of the first witches in Greek mythology. Circe, the main character, is an outcast on an island. You have to read the book to find out. While she’s an outcast on that island, we see her encounter people for the first time again.

We also see her most famous tale unfold: welcoming sailors onto her island. For her past betrayal, she feeds them food that poisons them and turns them into pigs, whom she goes on to provide to the next lot of sailors who turn up on her island.

This book venerates her voice and motivates her actions, which seem incredibly morbid. But the way Madeline Miller writes gives us an intimate insight into Circe’s experience. I would also recommend her other novel, The Song of Achilles, which made me cry. It is also a historical fiction that was based on true mythology.


Author: Madeline Miller
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Military Historical Fiction
Number Of Pages: 416
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback

5. Little Fires Everywhere

This is a suburban mystery, as well as historical fiction. It is set in a very planned, perfect town in Cleveland, and we follow the story of Mia. She is a single mother and an artist who moves into this town and witnesses a custody battle between a biological mother and the adoptive parents of an Asian-American baby tear it apart.

The book shows every side of the story, so you aren’t forced to believe one thing. Instead, you were forced to consider the book’s conflict yourself and come to your conclusion. In doing that, it exposes how hypocritical being a judgmental person is.

Also, it is eye-opening to explore different ways of approaching life, whether it’s by the rules or not. Again, it exposes how people harbor hatred because of distrust, not understanding how others might approach life, and having a different idea of right or wrong.

That is an important thing to understand about humanity and reading. Moreover, you get to see how it explores motherhood, familial connection, and love, similar to Before We Were Yours. So, if you’re looking for a book that is a deep dive into human nature that will keep you at the edge of your seat and force you to feel conflicting things, this is perfect for you.

Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Family Life Fiction
Number Of Pages: 368
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

6. Where the Crawdads Sing

This book is set in North Carolina in the 1960s, and we follow the unique story of Kya. She is known as the Marsh Girl in her hometown. Kya was abandoned by her family in the swamp of her town when she was seven years old. So we follow her and grow up isolated and very different from everyone else. We also see her interact with people for the first time, fall in love, and be betrayed through her unique lens.

The author herself was an academic biologist, so her description of human life of Marsh or Swamp is particular and exciting. It adds an interesting layer to how our main character sees humans and how the world works. Kya is the mystery of the murder of the town’s sportsman, Chase Andrews.

So we see the police investigation, and then the court trial unfolds between realizing Kya’s history and past and identity. Like the book Before We Were Yours, it explores the mind of an insular and isolated woman.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens
Average Rating: 4.8/5
Category: Coming of Age Fiction
Number Of Pages: 400
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

7. The Great Alone

The story centers mainly around Leni, a 13-year-old girl. Her parents are the post-hippie people living in the late 1970s. The father is a Vietnam War vet. He was a POW, which left quite a scar on his mind. He experiences a lot of PTSD. So, he has erratic behavior that eventually becomes abusive. When his buddy leaves this Alaskan hut to him, they move out to Alaska full-heartedly, thinking it will give them the new start they need.

So they pack up this VW minibus. Alaska is a harsh, mistress, beautiful, unspoiled land. But it’s also almost when you think about those frontier people who were homesteading in the middle of nowhere and had no support. They were learning how to live off the land from scratch, and many of them didn’t make it.

There’s a lot of self-sufficiency that you have to have. This family moving out there had none of that. So Leni dragged along for the ride. Her parents, caught in aunt, go out to Alaska and find that they are ill-prepared. They don’t know anything about Aunt is falling apart and becoming more and more violent. So it’s heartbreaking to think about that, and you can relate the emotions with the book Before We Were Yours. If you like hippies, then you can pick them.

The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Women’s Domestic Life Fiction
Number Of Pages: 576
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

As we close the final pages of these compelling stories, we are reminded of the power of resilience, the complexity of family dynamics, and the enduring strength of the human spirit. Like “Before We Were Yours,” each book we’ve explored offers a unique tapestry of emotions, history, and unforgettable characters that stay with us long after the reading.

These novels provide an escape into different eras and lives and challenge us to look deeper into our understanding of love, loss, and the intricate bonds that define us. So, keep them close to your heart and your bookshelf, for they are treasures that offer endless insights and emotional journeys. Until our next literary adventure, happy reading, and may these stories continue to inspire and move you.

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Pauline Jackson

I like to talk about popular books. My book review inspires you to read and save time. Also, I summarize the book and give you the best lessons or ideas that can change your life. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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