Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan
Marian Caldwell is living the life she’s always dreamed of – she is thirty-six, lives in a swanky New York apartment, has an extremely successful career, and to top it all off, a completely satisfying relationship. But when Kirby Rose suddenly shows up at her door one day Marian is forced to revisit the past she’d attempted to forget about. Kirby is a happy teenager, but has always felt out of place in her family, and is desperate to learn more about the birth parents who gave her up eighteen years ago. With the introduction of Kirby into Marian’s perfect life, the two women must come together to forge a bond, and to discover the one thing missing in each of their lives.
Emily Giffin is one of those authors who I always come back to for the same type of read, and am never disappointed by what I find between the pages. I like to think of her as “grown-up” chick-lit as the themes are similar to chick-lit; however the writing is incredibly good, the dialogue is smart, and the characters are so well-drawn I feel that I could know them in real life. AND she always dives quite a bit deeper into the issues in her novels than one would typically find in chick-lit. Where We Belong fit the exact mold I was hoping Giffin would deliver, and I truly loved every minute I spent with Marian and Kirby as they got to know each other, and in turn, themselves.
What I loved so much about this novel is that, while on the surface it’s a book about a birth mother being reunited with the daughter she gave up for adoption, truly it is about so much more than that. Giffin explores many themes throughout the novel. I particularly loved how Kirby’s search for her birth mother caused her to really investigate the meaning of family – the family that raised her, as well as the birth parents who chose not to – and how her family could change and evolve over the years as the people within it grow and change.
While I kind of knew where the story was heading, that didn’t stop me from enjoying every minute of watching everything come together towards the end of this novel. No one has ever accused Giffin of surprising her readers with her endings, and that’s completely okay by me. Sometimes I need these happy books to put a smile on my face or remind me that life is not difficult all of the time – sometimes things really do turn out well. So yes the ending is predictable, but it was everything I was hoping for.
I love Emily Giffin and Where We Belong just added to that love. The characters in this novel are well-constructed, the dialogue is spot on, and the story is heartwarming while not being too saccharine sweet. Plus, it’s very coming-of-age in an adult way. I really enjoyed this one and will anxiously await her next novel.