Summary: 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. ~amazon.com
Review: Where We Belong hits a bit close to home for me but not necessarily in a bad way. We are first introduced to Marian as she is having a lovely dinner with her boyfriend and TV executive, Peter. As Marian approaches the subject of marriage, Peter isn't as open as she thought he could be and this causes Marian to pull away, which is only the beginning of the rift between them. We already know what secret Marian is hiding from her friends and family but the person she hides it from the most is herself.
Enter Kirby Rose, an 18 year old girl in search of her herself, her birth mother and father and trying to figure out just where it is that she belongs. You see Kirby feels that she's never belonged to the family that adopted her, she's always felt like an outsider. Her adoption wasn't sprung on her at 18, she's always known she was adopted but she's always felt like something was missing.
Of course the first meeting between Kirby and Marian is awkward which is understandable and it will continue to be that way until they can get a rapport going and build a relationship. Kirby isn't sure how to approach the subject of her birth father and Marian isn't sure how she should tell Kirby about him either.
What happens through the book is a journey for all the characters in the novel. It is a journey into the past for Marian. A past that she stuffed away and buried because she didn't know how to deal with it at 18 and doesn't know how to deal with it at 36. It is also about where she is in life. Is she truly happy with her job and her relationship with Peter?
For Kirby, it's trying to figure out her future and where she wants to go in life. It's trying to figure out where she fits in and where she wants to fit in. It's trying to figure out how to blend two families together.
Ms. Giffin writes an excellent novel about love and life. Her characters are always easy to relate to and their struggles and triumphs are something that everyone can relate to even if you've never experienced it yourself.
This is perhaps my favorite quote in the book because it really applies to everyone and perhaps most of all to female friendships:
"Even if we no longer have much in common, we would have always had the past, which, in some ways, is just as important as the present or future. It is where we come from, what makes us who we are." -page 290As a side note, I love how a character or characters show up from Ms. Giffin's previous novels in her current work. It's always fun to get a glimpse into their lives since we saw them last.
Heart of the Matter remains my favorite Emily Giffin novel, but Where We Belong is a close 2nd.
Where We Belong goes on sale on July 24, 2012. It will make a great summer read while you are lounging at the pool or at the beach.
Final Take: 4.5/5
Thanks to St. Martin's Press for an ARC of Where We Belong!