Monday, August 27, 2012

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

4 Star

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.

Lydia - 4 Star

Finding oneself and one’s place in life, both as a woman approaching forty, and as a young adult feature prominently in Where We Belong and, as always, Emily Giffin provides an easy read, this one exploring the family bond and how we come to belong.

I’ve always enjoyed Giffin’s novels well enough, but she’s never been up there on my absolutely must read list. Maybe it’s the subjects she chooses – cheating and stabbing your best friend in the back don’t rank up there for me (even if I thought Darcy was over the top), so while Something Borrowed and Something Blue never sat well with me, they did make me think and somehow I ended up feeling more connected to the characters through understanding, which is a testament to Giffin’s writing. Where We Belong is no exception to this rule of a character that has made decisions I find perplexing, yet by the end I feel I understand the characters more and am able to have more empathy for them.

Marian, with her carefully crafted life in NYC as a television producer, dating the President of the company and living on 5th Avenue, took some warming up to. I’ve never led such a privileged lifestyle and her closed off attitude took some getting used to, but as she opened up and reevaluated her life, I grew to like her more. I liked Kirby’s character  better straight away as she was much more relatable with her confused teenage antics compounded by her sense of not belonging. And then there was Conrad, who was the shining star in this novel, but sadly his first scene was far too late in the novel.

Where We Belong is written from both Marian and Kirby’s point of view and I thought it was done well and was a wonderful way to convey the story from both angles. I didn’t always agree with Marian’s decisions, but I’ve always been an open book myself, and lying to two extremely important people in her life (her father and the baby’s father), and essentially living her life as a lie didn’t sit that well with me – from my pro-truth, anti-lie standpoint. I didn’t understand her explanation for the lies other than how shallow she really was that Conrad wasn’t going to be attending a college and that she was destined for bigger and better things and she threw away their love because of it. I wonder if the ending of the novel would have been different if Conrad’s life hadn’t gone in the direction it had?

Regardless of how I felt about these issues though, I still enjoyed Where We Belong. Even the ending which was left open, felt fine for this novel. All in all, an easy, enjoyable read.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for our review copy! All opinions are our own.

Connect with Emily Giffin here:


  1. I really enjoyed this review. My Mom had read and suggested this book. When she described the story-line, I pictured in my mind the book being similar to the TV series "Life Unexpected" which I liked. With your review, I think it might be something completely different and even though I may still read it, I like your point of view on it. Thanks.

  2. This really sounds like a good book. I am 30 now, and there were some years in my twenties where I was definitely living a lie. Everyone thought I was happy, but in my heart I wasn’t. At all. I like books like this one, where the fake world crashes down and you have to find your way to true happiness. Thanks for the review!



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