Where We Belong (Hardcover)
St. Martin's Press, 9780312554194, 384pp.
Publication Date: July 24, 2012
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.
About the Author
Praise For Where We Belong…
"In another surefire hit, [Giffin] serves up pathos, humor, and one doozy of a twist." —Entertainment Weekly
"Sharply drawn characters and finely honed sensibility add up to a story that’s as bittersweet as an August evening." —Family Circle"Book clubs will have a field day with this one. Thorny mother-daughter relationships and secrets we keep from loved ones burn up the pages." —USA Today
"After five charming relationship-themed hits, Emily Giffin had a lot to live up to with WHERE WE BELONG. Luckily, the author executes with a thoughtful finesse that makes this easily her best work yet. [WHERE WE BELONG] is that special type of story that takes priority over getting to bed on time. And the payoff is well worth it." —Boston Globe"Emily Giffin ranks as a grand master. Over the course of five best-selling novels, she has traversed the slippery slopes of true love, lost love, marriage, motherhood, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption that have led her to be called ‘a modern-day Jane Austen.’ With Giffin’s use of humor, honesty, originality and, like Austen, a biting social commentary, this modern-day ‘woman’s novel’ sits easily on nightstands and in beach bags. Even Austen would find it hard to put down." —Chicago Sun-Times "Emily Giffin’s new novel about the legacy of adoption, WHERE WE BELONG, imagines what happens when an 18-year-old girl tracks down her birth mother…the latest in a string of provocative, imaginative novels that began in 2004 with SOMETHING BORROWED. All the characters [here] are on a journey to find ‘where we belong,’ and Giffin knits together their journeys with a masterly hand." —Seattle Times "Emily Giffin’s WHERE WE BELONG is a literary Rorschach test. The book, while thoroughly entertaining, will also prod readers to examine choices they’ve made in their lives. It will compel them to muse about things they’d like to do over, to do differently, to do better…[and] gracefully examines themes of identity, family and forgiveness." —Miami Herald
"Emily Giffin has a wonderful way with words. [WHERE WE BELONG] is an emotionally powerful story that will ring true with women who have given a child away and with those who grew up wondering where they came from. Giffin may be working with a premise and plot that is fairly simple, but there’s nothing lightweight about the emotional turbulence she creates." —Ft. Worth Star-Telegram"[Giffin] shows that real love is messy but meaningful in this delicious, easygoing read." —American Way "[Giffin’s] novels present tough moral dilemmas all related to love. And her latest, WHERE WE BELONG, is no exception and perhaps her best yet…It’s a classic Giffin tale, nuanced and messy and utterly addictive, with fully fleshed-out characters who face morally ambiguous choices that aren’t resolved in neat bows." —Austin American-Statesman
"A breezy, yet compelling read." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Emily Giffin is back with another must-read summer novel!" —Harper’s Bazaar"The next must-read book of the summer!" —Star "WHERE WE BELONG is too suspenseful to be called chick lit and too relationship-centered to be labeled a thriller. But most readers will have little time to think of a genre for Emily Giffin’s latest novel as they race through this gripping story about the reunion of a high school senior and the woman who put her up for adoption 18 years earlier." —Connecticut Post
"Giffin has a way of tugging on our heartstrings while still making us laugh out loud...[a] perfect recipe." —Woman’s World"Graceful and inviting prose, careful plotting and vivid characterizations…The coming together of two people who share a genetic heritage and little else is dramatically and emotionally risky. But Giffin makes the most of the opportunity, and WHERE WE BELONG had me riveted." —Winston-Salem Journal "The issue about secrets isn’t about keeping them. It’s the reveal and its consequences. That’s the challenge faced by the characters in Emily Giffin’s new, briskly paced…WHERE WE BELONG. Taking a somewhat more somber tone than she did in her [previous] bestselling novels, Giffin’s approach and style mature in this latest effort." —Philadelphia Inquirer "Breezy and fun, this is definitely one for the beach bag!" —All You magazine "Giffin’s latest will make you shed a few tears – and call your mom." —Ladies Home Journal "You’re sure to spy lots of pale-orange book covers at the beach this summer, as Emily Giffin releases her latest in a series of successful reads. The book has heart, meat and realistic characters." —am New York
"[WHERE WE BELONG] delivers the readable, addicting prose we have all come to love [but] delves deeper than ever before, showing that the author is capable of making her signature style work with topics beyond typical relationships. Through Marian, her daughter and the rest of those affected by Marian’s decisions, the author beautifully tackles the complex issues of sex, abortion, adoption and the difficult decisions that go along with each." —Woodbury magazine"A satisfying and entertaining read. Giffin is a gifted storyteller [and] writes smart, snappy prose that elevates this novel." —Vancouver Sun
"Believable characters, [a] page-turning plot and [an] unblinking look at the choices we make as women." —WeightWatchers magazine
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- Joanna, BTW Club, Cleveland Heights, OH
- How might Marian'slife been different if:
- She told Conrad andhad an abortion?
- She told Conrad andkept the baby?
- She told Conrad andstill gave the baby up for adoption?
- How might Kirby'slife had been different had Marian decided to keep her?
- Do you thinkMarian's decision to tell no one other than her mother about Kirby was a gooddecision?
- What alternateending might you have given the story?
- How might Marian'slife been different if:
- Jo, StARs Book Group, Staten Island, NY
- Kirbyhas a birth family and an adopted family. There are many types offamilies, whether related biologically or not. Who do you callfamily? How do you make the determination to include or exclude someonefrom your family?
- Thetitle of the book is Where We Belong. Where do you belong? How did you decide where you belong? What makes you feel like youbelong?
- Whatdid you think about Marian’s decision to keep her pregnancy a secret fromConrad? Was he right to be upset when he found out he was a father 18years after the fact? Do expectant mothers have an obligation to informthe father? Why or why not?
- Marianmade some difficult choices in her life – to keep her pregnancy a secret fromher father, to break up with Conrad, to give Kirby up for adoption, etc. Thinkabout the difficult choices you have had to make in your life. Did they turnout to be for the best, or did you end up regretting them?
- Whatdid you think about the choices Marian’s parents made and the secrets they keptover her pregnancy? Similarly, what did you think about the reactionsKirby’s parents had over her finding Marian?
- Marianchose to give birth. Do her experiences with that choice make you more orless empathetic to women who make other choices in the same situation? Explain.
- Thechoices we make have a ripple effect and ultimately impact all areas of ourlives. How did Marian’s choice to hide her pregnancy affect her relationshipsand future choices?
- Kirbyinherited her musical ability from Conrad and his mother. Discuss your thoughtsabout the effects of nature versus nurture on personality.
- Conradtells Marian he hates what she did, but he’s trying not to hate her. Haveyou ever felt that way about someone? How did you deal with yourfeelings? How do you go forward when someone you love betrays you?
- AfterKirby passes her pre-calculus final, she thinks she might go to college afterall. She considers the downside and concludes, “What’s the worst thatcould happen?” Then she wonders what would have happened had she allowed thedownside of meeting Marian to stop her. When have you not allowed thedownside of a challenge to stop you?
- DiscussBelinda’s stealing the prom dress. Why do you think Giffin includes whatseems to be a side topic in the book?
- Wheredo you see the relationships among Kirby and her two sets of parents in fiveyears? What makes you think that?
- Giffintold this story by alternating chapters from Marian and Kirby’s points ofview. Did this style of writing enhance or impede your reading andunderstanding of the story?
- Howdoes this book compare to other Emily Giffin books you have read? What isit about her writing that keeps you coming back?
- Terry, Middletown #1 Ladies Book Club, Middletown, RI
- Do you see aparallel between Marian's mother and Kirby's adoptive mother? What aboutthe relationship between Kirby's adoptive father and her biologicalfather? Is there a connection there?
- How is Marian'srelationship with Peter impacted by the addition of Kirby in her life?
- How do you viewMarian's decision to give Kirby up for adoption without even telling Conradabout her pregnancy? Did she have that right? How might this storyhave been different if Conrad was aware of Marian's pregnancy?
- Susan, Friday Morning Book Club, Owings Mills, MD
- Why doyou think Marian lied to Conrad about the pregnancy test results? Was the factthat Conrad was not planning to go to college a factor? What do you think wouldhave happened if she had told him the truth?
- Do youthink Marian made the right decision when she gave her baby up for adoption?Was she being selfish or selfless?
- Why doyou think Marian updated her contact info every year? Although she never evenadmitted it to herself did she hope that her daughter would find her one day?
- Why wasMarian so driven? Was she trying to prove to herself that she did the rightthing? Was she burying herself in her work?
- WasPeter correct when he accused Marian of never dealing with the fact that shegave her baby away?
- Why doyou think that Marian’s father was so much more willing to accept Kirby thanMarian’s mother?
- Conradadmits to Kirby that Marian was the love of his life. Was Conrad the love ofMarian’s life?
- IfKirby had not come along would Marian and Peter have gotten married? Do youthink it would have lasted?
- Wheredo you think “the current” will take Marian?
- Jennifer, Ladies Night Book Club, Richmond, VA
- What do you think would have happened if Miriamhad told Conrad about the baby when they were eighteen? Would the result (adoption) been the same?
- Do you think that Miriam's mother was right intelling her father about the baby? Whydo you think that she is so cold to Kirby?
- Kirby thinks that she is treated differently orlooked at differently by her adoptive parents in comparison to her sister, whois their natural child....do you think that is truly the case? If so, why?