Book Review: Where We Belong
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.
I really enjoyed reading about Marian and Kirby’s developing relationship. I thought it played out authentically. It was awkward at first and not without a few bumps in the road. As an adoptive mom, I cringed every time one of the characters said that Marian gave her baby away but I realize that not everyone knows that this isn’t considered correct terminology anymore. Most people probably do talk about birth moms giving their babies away in real life so it makes sense that that is what the characters would say. (It’s nicer to say that the baby was “placed for adoption.” It’s supposed to sound less like the adoptee was abandoned by the birth mother.)
As a Mizzou grad, I liked that Kirby’s parents were encouraging her to go to Mizzou. Go Tigers! Missouri doesn’t seem to be a popular setting for books so it was fun to actually recognize the landmarks Kirby talks about in St. Louis where she lives.
This book switches back and forth between Marian and Kirby’s first person perspectives. I think that worked well since it was important to get into both characters’ heads while their relationship was growing. It was a little confusing listening to the audio book because I didn’t feel like the narrator (Orlagh Cassidy) was always consistent with keeping the two voices distinct in the narration. However, I thought the dialogue was always great, with both Marian and Kirby as well as the other characters. I loved Orlagh’s voice for Kirby’s dad. He was quite a jolly character and her voice for him made him even more jolly.
I liked that the book had a somewhat ambiguous ending. Anything else would have been unrealistic and too neat and tidy. And I’m one who usually likes everything wrapped up with a bow at the end. This was a perfect “car book”. If I would have read the paper version, I know I would have blown through it – there were times I wanted to keep driving so I could listen to just a little more. This is the second book by Emily Giffin I’ve read and really liked so I think I can safely say that I’m a fan!
Come back tomorrow – I’ll be giving away an abridged copy of the audiobook to one lucky reader!
(I received this audio book courtesy of the publisher.)