Where We Belong
by Emily Giffin
Why did you choose this book? this was our Julu book club selection
When did you read this book? July 2013
Who should read this book? readers of contemporary women’s fiction
Source: book club set won by member
From the author of six New York Times bestselling novels, Emily Giffin, comes the unforgettable story of one powerful secret, its effect on two families, and the life-altering journey that follows…
Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six-year-old television producer living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and picture-perfect 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 locked away forever.
From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s meticulously constructed world will be shaken to its core, resurrecting memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her. For the precocious and headstrong Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to reevaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light.
As Marian and Kirby embark on a quest 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.
A member of our book club won a book club set for us, so this book was added to our list. I had mixed feelings about reading it, because our book club had previously read Love the One You’re With by the same author, and I had not been impressed. But the storyline of this one seemed interesting, and it had good reviews and it WAS a book club selection, sooo....
I’m glad I read the book. It was really very good. 18 years ago, Marian Caldwell, a smart college-bound girl, became pregnant right after graduation from high school. Rather than give up her plans for college, with her mother’s support she gave up the baby for adoption and moved on with her life. Now a successful television producer in a relationship with a successful man, her life is thrown a curveball when the baby, Kirby Rose, appears on her doorstep. The question for both of them becomes ‘where do we go from here?’
There are big secrets in the story, and I’m not going to talk much more about the plot, because I really can’t without revealing part of the secrets. Instead I will just tell you a bit about what I liked in the book. First was the writing. The book was told from alternating points of view, and we get both Marian’s take and Kirby’s take in alternating chapters, as both remembered the past and stressed over the ‘now’. I do usually like the alternating point of view technique, and liked it here, but I do have to say, the voices weren’t different enough. I often forgot which point of view I was reading until something glaringly impossible struck me. But it was fun to read about the 80s from Marian’s memories of her childhood.
The other thing that I really enjoyed, as a St. Louisan, was that Kirby lives in St. Louis in a neighborhood I am very familiar with. It was fun to have some of the local landmarks thrown in, and for the most part the author got them right! After a time, though, it did feel more like ‘name dropping’ when some of the landmarks didn’t quite make sense for the story. But this would not even be caught by most readers unless they knew St. Louis well.
The one thing that held me back from 4 stars was the ending. Though for the most part it was satisfactory, and you could guess where things were going, there was one relationship that I would have like to have had a glimpse into the future on. It really did not detract from the story at all, but when you develop a ‘relationship’ with the characters, sometimes it’s nice to know what happens to them. All in all though, I really enjoyed this book. It is definitely worth reading.
You can find a reading guide on Emily Giffin’s website here.
You can listen to an excerpt from the book here.
There is an interview with Emily Giffin on Goodreads here, but she does discuss the ending of Where We Belong, so you may want to put this on hold until you’ve finished the book.
My Rating: ★★★1/2 3-1/2 Stars