WHERE WE BELONG

Emily Giffin

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.

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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.

Read Chapter 1 of Where We Belong.

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  • St. Martins Press
  • Hardcover
  • July 2012
  • 384 Pages
  • 9780312554194

Buy the Book

$27.99

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About Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin is The New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed; Something Blue; Baby Proof; Love The One You’re With and Heart of The Matter. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three young children.

Follow Emily Giffin on Twitter.

Watch videos on Emily Giffin Channel on Youtube.

Praise

*Book club praise from our ARCs for ARCs program.*

Laura, Book Belles, Virginia Beach, VA

“My opinion of the book is that I thought it would be a great beach read for anyone, and I personally enjoyed this book.  I think it could be a good book for book club discussions, as it raises the issues of pro-life and adoption (open vs. closed). The characters were believable, although at times it all seemed a little too perfect in the way Kirby didn’t seem to run into many obstacles finding her birth mother.  I imagine that it is not always so easy to find a birth mother.  The book was a quick and easy read, and the story was good. I knew what to expect from Emily Griffin’s book, as I have read some of her others.  I wasn’t expecting lots of flowery descriptions and a lot of depth in her characters, but as I said previously, the story line was good and I definitely think book clubs who are willing to discuss these types of issues would enjoy it.  A perfect read for the summer.  I will definitely pass the book on to my friends to read, especially if they need a quick read while on vacation this summer.”

Joanna, BTW Club, Cleveland Heights, OH

"OK, I admit it.  I am as guilty as the next girl when it comes to being a sucker for a feel good chick-lit novel.  And this definitely qualifies as one.  There are two main characters, Marian and Kirby, and the book is told in alternating chapters in each of their voices.  It’s hard to say too much about the plot line without giving the story away, so I won’t.  The author’s writing is good, the pace of book perfect.  It’s an easy read that I really didn’t want to put down.  I’ve read several others by this author but feel like this book has more heart and soul to it than some of her previous work.  I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good chick book and even those who say they don’t."

“Here’s a link to my blog where I posted this book review.”

Jo, StARs Book Group, Staten Island, NY

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book.  I had heard of Emily Giffin but had never read any of her books.  This was an engaging, honest story that hooked me from the first page. Giffin wrote the characters in a way that made them relatable and likable. She took a difficult topic and gave readers a way to think about it within the parameters of a good story.  I am going to recommend this book to my book group, because I think it will make a good discussion.”

Terry, Middletown #1 Ladies Book Club, Middletown, RI

“I tend to base my reviews on whether or not I found the characters in a book interesting and approachable.  In this case, I can say I found the narrators, Marian and Kirby to be both.  A story of a teenage girl and her birth mother meeting for the first time could have ended up being a sappy, predictable, and contrived story, but I found it to be not so.  The characters are well developed and believable.  They are not perfect people, though they are living charmed lives.  Their reactions and interactions felt true to them and their situation.  This story will make you consider what if you were on either end of the story – the mother or daughter – what would you do?  How would you respond?  Emily Giffin’s book is very readable, an easy narrative that while it may not challenge you, it could be thought-provoking.  Marian and Kirby are strong female characters living a real life in a real world. 

“I very much enjoyed reading this book and will definitely consider other works by this author.  Her easy narrative style and interesting choice of thought provoking subject matter makes for a very good book.  I will be sharing this book with my book club friends.”

Susan, Friday Morning Book Club, Owings Mills, MD

Where we Belong was a thoroughly enjoyable read.  I will be writing a review of the book on my blog and will forward it to you.”

Jennifer, Ladies Night Book Club, Richmond, VA

“I loved this book.  I received this as an ARC….and I really enjoyed it.  The story involves Marian who is a successful TV writer and producer who is involved with the Network CEO.  She has what on the surface is a perfect life….except for one tiny secret that only she and her Mother know about.

“Her secret – a baby that she gave up for adoption 18 years ago – shows up unannounced on her doorstep and changes her and her life.  The story is told in alternate chapters from her viewpoint and the girl she gave up, Kirby.  It explores the impact on her, Kirby, her parents, the birth father (who knew nothing about the baby), the adoptive parents and other characters in the book.

“The story of young love told in flashbacks between Marian and the birth father, Conrad, is really sweet.  It gave me that same feeling that I get when I watch Sixteen Candles…..and Samantha gets her underwear back from Jake at the end…..”

Discussion Questions

Joanna, BTW Club, Cleveland Heights, OH

  1. How might Marian’s life been different if:
    • She told Conrad and had an abortion?
    • She told Conrad and kept the baby?
    • She told Conrad and still gave the baby up for adoption?
  2. How might Kirby’s life had been different had Marian decided to keep her?
  3. Do you think Marian’s decision to tell no one other than her mother about Kirby was a good decision?
  4. What alternate ending might you have given the story?

Jo, StARs Book Group, Staten Island, NY

  1. Kirby has a birth family and an adopted family.  There are many types of families, whether related biologically or not.  Who do you call family?  How do you make the determination to include or exclude someone from your family?
  2. The title of the book is Where We Belong.  Where do you belong?  How did you decide where you belong?  What makes you feel like you belong? 
  3. What did you think about Marian’s decision to keep her pregnancy a secret from Conrad?  Was he right to be upset when he found out he was a father 18 years after the fact?  Do expectant mothers have an obligation to inform the father?  Why or why not?
  4. Marian made some difficult choices in her life – to keep her pregnancy a secret from her father, to break up with Conrad, to give Kirby up for adoption, etc. Think about the difficult choices you have had to make in your life. Did they turn out to be for the best, or did you end up regretting them?
  5. What did you think about the choices Marian’s parents made and the secrets they kept over her pregnancy?  Similarly, what did you think about the reactions Kirby’s parents had over her finding Marian?
  6. Marian chose to give birth.  Do her experiences with that choice make you more or less empathetic to women who make other choices in the same situation?  Explain.
  7. The choices we make have a ripple effect and ultimately impact all areas of our lives. How did Marian’s choice to hide her pregnancy affect her relationships and future choices?
  8. Kirby inherited her musical ability from Conrad and his mother. Discuss your thoughts about the effects of nature versus nurture on personality.
  9. Conrad tells Marian he hates what she did, but he’s trying not to hate her.  Have you ever felt that way about someone?  How did you deal with your feelings?  How do you go forward when someone you love betrays you?
  10. After Kirby passes her pre-calculus final, she thinks she might go to college after all.  She considers the downside and concludes, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Then she wonders what would have happened had she allowed the downside of meeting Marian to stop her.  When have you not allowed the downside of a challenge to stop you?
  11. Discuss Belinda’s stealing the prom dress.  Why do you think Giffin includes what seems to be a side topic in the book?
  12. Where do you see the relationships among Kirby and her two sets of parents in five years?  What makes you think that?
  13. Giffin told this story by alternating chapters from Marian and Kirby’s points of view.  Did this style of writing enhance or impede your reading and understanding of the story?
  14. How does this book compare to other Emily Giffin books you have read?  What is it about her writing that keeps you coming back?

Terry, Middletown #1 Ladies Book Club, Middletown, RI

  1. Do you see a parallel between Marian’s mother and Kirby’s adoptive mother?  What about the relationship between Kirby’s adoptive father and her biological father?  Is there a connection there?
  2. How is Marian’s relationship with Peter impacted by the addition of Kirby in her life?
  3. How do you view Marian’s decision to give Kirby up for adoption without even telling Conrad about her pregnancy?  Did she have that right?  How might this story have been different if Conrad was aware of Marian’s pregnancy?

Susan, Friday Morning Book Club, Owings Mills, MD

  1. Why do you think Marian lied to Conrad about the pregnancy test results? Was the fact that Conrad was not planning to go to college a factor? What do you think would have happened if she had told him the truth?
  2. Do you think Marian made the right decision when she gave her baby up for adoption? Was she being selfish or selfless?
  3. Why do you think Marian updated her contact info every year? Although she never even admitted it to herself did she hope that her daughter would find her one day?
  4. Why was Marian so driven? Was she trying to prove to herself that she did the right thing? Was she burying herself in her work?
  5. Was Peter correct when he accused Marian of never dealing with the fact that she gave her baby away?
  6. Why do you think that Marian’s father was so much more willing to accept Kirby than Marian’s mother?
  7. Conrad admits to Kirby that Marian was the love of his life. Was Conrad the love of Marian’s life?
  8. If Kirby had not come along would Marian and Peter have gotten married? Do you think it would have lasted?
  9. Where do you think “the current” will take Marian?

Jennifer, Ladies Night Book Club, Richmond, VA

  1. What do you think would have happened if Miriam had told Conrad about the baby when they were eighteen?  Would the result (adoption) been the same?
  2. Do you think that Miriam’s mother was right in telling her father about the baby?  Why do you think that she is so cold to Kirby?
  3. Kirby thinks that she is treated differently or looked at differently by her adoptive parents in comparison to her sister, who is their natural child….do you think that is truly the case?  If so, why?

*These are book club generated conversation starters from our ARCs for ARCs programs