The author of five blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin, delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together.
Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.
For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Chick Lit books. I have shelves full of my favourite authors, like Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner, Gemma Townley, and Emily Giffin — I adore them so much that when a new book comes out, I don’t even bother reading what it’s about, I just buy it.
With Emily Giffin’s latest, I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy from the publisher, but I still had no clue what the book was about. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it really wasn’t the normal Chick Lit fare about a man and a woman falling in love, with cute things happening along the way. In fact, all of the love happens right in the beginning — 18 years ago — between a boy and a girl in high school. The result is 18-year-old Kirby, who shows up on Marian’s doorstep, starting a story about love, loss, secrets, and family.
This was an amazing story! The entire book is narrated by the two main characters — Kirby and Marian. This works out very well and it was nice to go back to the past with both stories, seeing what led up to the creation of Kirby, and what led Kirby to seek out her birth mother. The result is a story that focuses on the choices we make, the people they hurt, and the decisions that we have to live with for the rest of our lives.
Emily Giffin writes astounding characters. I loved Marian right off the bat, even her “highfalutin” lifestyle as a TV producer. It was nice to see that not everything was perfect for her and I liked how not all of her story was told right off the bat — instead, there are bits and pieces of her past told as the story goes on, putting plenty of twists and turns in front of the reader. The same goes for Kirby. I completely understood why Kirby did what she did — being a teenage girl, Kirby is awkward and unsure of where she fits in life. Being adopted, she wonders if she fits with her adopted family at all. I loved watching her grow as the novel went on, seeing her relationships change with her family and friends.
The thing that really made this book work was how true to life it was. I’d like to think, though, that in real life the situation would be just slightly messier and not so well accepted, but Emily Giffin does a wonderful job of putting her readers into the minds of two people who are making (or who have made) huge decisions in their life — life-altering decisions. The other thing that made this book work — and it’s something Griffin has done in the past — is that the reader is able to get into the head of both characters, to see both sides of the story. With a story so delicate as one about adoption, seeing the different perspectives is crucial and Giffin pulls it off well.
Where We Belong really is a beautiful read and probably one of Giffin’s best. Highly recommended!
Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing me a copy of the book for review!
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