Where We Belong

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Overview

From the author of six New York Times bestselling novels, Emily Giffin, comes the unforgettable story of one powerful secret, its effect on two families, and the life-altering journey that follows?

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six-year-old television producer living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and picture-perfect 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 ...

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Overview

From the author of six New York Times bestselling novels, Emily Giffin, comes the unforgettable story of one powerful secret, its effect on two families, and the life-altering journey that follows…

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six-year-old television producer living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and picture-perfect 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 locked away forever.

From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s meticulously constructed world will be shaken to its core, resurrecting memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her. For the precocious and headstrong Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to reevaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light.

As Marian and Kirby embark on a quest 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Sometimes a knock on the door can change a life. Before 18-year-old Kirby Rose arrived at her door, Marian Caldwell was a thriving television producer and in a happy romantic relationship; but Kirby's sudden appearance brings with it a flood of memories about an affair left far behind, memories that threaten to engulf the successful middle-aged woman in a new sea of troubles. A powerful novel about a mother and a daughter by the author of Love the One You're With and Something Borrowed. A former Barnes & Noble Bestseller; now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

From the Publisher
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

Library Journal
Mid-thirties Marian Caldwell has a happy relationship and a terrific career as a television producer in New York. Then the past literally comes knocking as Marian finds 18-year-old Kirby Rose on her doorstep. The author of five blockbusters (e.g., Something Borrowed), Giffin should revitalize this standard pop plot—or so the 1000-plus Goodreads folks already hankering to read this book clearly expect. With a one-day laydown on July 31 and a big national tour.
Kirkus Reviews
Kirby Rose turns 18, hops on a Greyhound bus from St. Louis to Manhattan and with no warning, knocks on the Fifth Avenue apartment door of her birth mother, Marian Caldwell--a move that will send them both on a journey of rediscovery, questioning everything they thought they knew about love, family, secrets and second chances. Kirby is a classic underachiever in a family who values things she scorns and is mystified by the things she loves. Adopted when she was days old to a couple who'd concluded they'd never have kids, she's grown up on the story, as much a part of the family history as the surprise of her sister's "real" birth 11 months later. It's only when she gets to high school that she feels disconnected to her adoptive family, and by the time she's a senior, there's a frustration on all sides that Kirby has failed in some way. Not clear on her own motivations, Kirby sets out to find her birth mother, landing unannounced on Marian's Manhattan penthouse doorstep. Connecting with her daughter knocks Marian off her content, polished life path--and forces her to question the choices she's made, the secrets she's kept, the people she loves and the ones she's left behind. Ultimately, Kirby and Marian will set off together to find the one person they both need to put all the pieces together, offering Kirby the confidence to embrace who she really is and Marian the opportunity to right some long-standing transgressions. Along the way, both women will revisit questions of family, identity, secrets and love--and what it truly means to belong. Giffin delivers an emotionally poignant and reflective look at teen pregnancy through a rearview mirror and how 18 years later, one woman's hindsight is sometimes too easy, and sometimes too hard, on her adolescent self. And yet, on a certain level, as all parties come to understand, it doesn't exactly matter. What really matters is how one chooses to live today--to express love, to live authentically and to embrace life itself, even when it lands on your doorstep in unexpected ways when you're least prepared for it. Giffin's moving storyline offers great pacing, believable, disparate characters and a plot that could easily careen into maudlin territory, unlikable stereotypes or over-the-top emotionalism but never does: a sweet, even-keeled winner.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594532200
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 271
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After practicing litigation at a Manhattan firm for several years, she moved to London to write full time. The author of five New York Times bestselling novels, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You’re With, and Heart of the Matter, she now lives in Atlanta with her husband and three young children.

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Read an Excerpt

Where We Belong


By Emily Giffin

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2012 Emily Giffin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312554194

Chapter One

Marian

 

I know what they say about secrets. I’ve heard it all. That they can haunt and govern you. That they can poison relationships and divide families. That in the end, only the truth will set you free. Maybe that’s the case for some people and some secrets. But I truly believed I was the exception to such portents, and never once breathed the smallest mention of my nearly two- decade- long secret to anyone. Not to my closest friends in my most intoxicated moments or to my boyfriend, Peter, in our most intimate ones. My father knew nothing of it— and I didn’t even discuss it with my mother, the only person who was there when it all happened, almost as if we took an unspoken vow of silence, willing ourselves to let go, move on. I never forgot, not for a single day, yet I was also convinced that sometimes, the past really was the past.

I should have known better. I should have taken those words to heart— the ones that started it all on that sweltering night so long ago: You can run but you can’t hide.

 

 

But those words, that night, my secret, are the farthest things from my mind as Peter and I stroll down Bleecker Street following a lingering dinner at Lupa, one of our favorite restaurants in the city. After several stops and starts, winter finally seems over for good, and the balmy spring night is made warmer by the bottle of Barolo Peter ordered. It’s one of the many things I admire about him— his fine taste coupled with his firm belief that life is too short for unexceptional wine. Unexceptional anything really. He is too kind and hardworking to be considered a snob, shunning his lazy trust fund acquaintances who accomplished “nothing on their own,” but he’s certainly an elitist, having always traveled in prep school, power circles. I’m not uncomfortable in that world— but have always existed on the fringe of it before Peter brought me into his vortex of jet shares, yachts, and vacation homes in Nantucket and St. Bart’s.

“Ah! Finally. No slush on the sidewalks,” I say, happy to be wearing heels and a light cardigan after months of unseemly rubber boots and puffy winter coats.

“I know . . . Quel soulagement,” Peter murmurs, draping his arm around me. He is possibly the only guy I know who can get away with musing in French without sounding insufferably pretentious, perhaps because he spent much of his childhood in Paris, the son of a French runway model and an American diplomat. Even after he moved to the States when he was twelve, he was only allowed to speak French at home, his accent as flawless as his manners.

I smile and bury my cheek against his broad shoulder as he plants a kiss on the top of my head and says, “Where to now, Champ?”

He coined the nickname after I beat him in a contentious game of Scrabble on our third date, then doubled down and did it again, gloating all the while. I laughed and made the fatal mistake of telling him “Champ” was the ironic name of my childhood dog, a blind chocolate Lab with a bad limp, thus sealing the term of endearment. “Marian” was quickly relegated to mixed company, throes of passion, and our rare arguments.

“Dessert?” I suggest, as we turn the corner. We contemplate Magnolia’s cupcakes or Rocco’s cannolis, but decide we are too full for either, and instead walk in comfortable silence, wandering by cafés and bars and throngs of contented Villagers. Then, moved by the wine and the weather and a whiff of his spicy cologne, I find myself blurting out, “How about marriage?”

At thirty- six and after nearly two years of dating, I’ve had the question on my mind, the subject of speculation among my friends. But this night marks the first time I’ve broached the topic with him directly, and I instantly regret my lapse of discipline and race myself for an unsatisfying response. Sure enough, the mood of the night instantly shifts, and I feel his arm tense around me. I tell myself it isn’t necessarily a bad sign; it could just be poor timing. It even occurs to me that he could already have the ring— and that his reaction has more to do with my stealing his thunder.

“Oh, forget it,” I say with a high- pitched, forced laugh, which only makes things more awkward. It’s like trying to retract an “I love you” or undo a one- night stand. Impossible.

“Champ,” he says, then pauses for a few beats. “We’re so good together.”

The sentiment is sweet, even promising, but it’s not even close to being an answer— and I can’t resist telling him as much. “Sooo that means . . . what, exactly? Status quo forever? Let’s hit City Hall to night? Something in between?” My tone is playful, and Peter seizes the opportunity to make light of things.

“Maybe we should get those cupcakes after all,” he says.

I don’t smile, the vision of an emerald- cut diamond tucked into one of his Italian loafers beginning to fade.

“Kidding,” he says, pulling me tighter against him. “Repeat the question?”

“Marriage. Us. What do you think?” I say. “Does it ever even . . . cross your mind?”

“Yes. Of course it does . . .”

I feel a “but” coming like you can feel rain on your face after a deafening clap of thunder. Sure enough, he finishes, “But my divorce was just finalized.” Another noncommittal nonanswer.

“Right,” I say, feeling defeated as he glances into a darkened storefront, seemingly enthralled by a display of letterpress stationery and Mont Blanc pens. I make a mental note to buy him one, having nearly exhausted gifts in the “what to buy someone who has everything” category, especially someone as meticulous as Peter. Cuff links, electronic gadgets, weekend stays at rustic New En gland B and Bs. Even a custom LEGO statue of a moose, the unofficial mascot of his beloved Dartmouth.

“But your marriage has been over for a long time. You haven’t lived with Robin in over four years,” I say.

It is a point I make often, but never in this context, rather when we are out with other couples, on the off chance that someone sees me as the culprit— the mistress who swooped in and stole someone else’s husband. Unlike some of my friends who seem to specialize in married men, I have never entertained so much as a wink or a drink from a man with a ring on his left hand, just as I, in the dating years before Peter, had zero tolerance for shadiness, game playing, commitment phobias, or any other symptom of the Peter Pan syndrome, a seeming epidemic, at least in Manhattan. In part, it was about principle and self- respect. But it was also a matter of pragmatism, of thirty- something life engineering. I knew exactly what I wanted—who I wanted— and believed I could get there through sheer effort and determination just as I had doggedly pursued my entire career in television.

That road hadn’t been easy, either. Right after I graduated from film school at NYU, I moved to L.A. and worked as a lowly production assistant on a short- lived Nickelodeon teen sitcom. After eighteen months of trying to get lunch orders straight in my head and not writing a single word for the show, I got a job as a staff writer on a medical drama series. It was a great gig, as I learned a lot, made amazing contacts, and worked my way up to story editor, but I had no life, and didn’t really care for the show. So at some point, I took a gamble, left the safety of a hit show, and moved back to New York into a cozy garden apartment in Prospect Park. To pay the bills, I did freelance projects and wrote specs for existing shows. My favorite spot to write became a little family- owned bar named Aggie’s where there was constant drama between the four brothers, much of it inspired by the women they married and their Irish- immigrant mother, and I found myself ditching my other projects and sketching out their backstories. And suddenly South Second Street was born (I moved the bar from modern- day Brooklyn to Philly in the seventies). It wasn’t high concept like everything in television seemed to be becoming, but I was old-school, and believed I could create a compelling world with my writing and characters— rather than gimmicks. My agent believed in me, too, and after getting me in to pitch my pi lot to all the major networks, a bidding war ensued. I took the deal with a little less money (but still enough for me to move to Manhattan) and more creative license. And voilà. My dream had come true. I was finally an executive producer. A showrunner.

Then, one intense year later, I met Peter. I knew his name long before I actually met him from the industry and snippets in Variety: Peter Standish, the esteemed television executive poached from another network, the would-be savior to turn around our overall struggling ratings and revamp our identity. As the new CEO, he was technically my boss, another one of my rules for whom not to date. However, the morning I ran into him at the Starbucks in our building lobby, I granted myself an exception, rationalizing that I wasn’t one of his direct reports— the director of programming buffered us in the chain of command. Besides, I already had a name— my series was considered a modest hit, a tough feat for a mid- season show, so nobody could accuse me of using him to get ahead or jump-start a stalling career.

Of course at that point, as I stood behind him in line, eavesdropping as he ordered a “double tall cappuccino extra dry,” the matter was completely theoretical. He wasn’t wearing a ring— I noticed instantly— but he gave off an unavailable vibe as I tapped him on the shoulder, introduced myself, and issued a brisk, professional welcome. I knew how old he was by the press release still sitting in my inbox—forty- seven—but with a full head of dark hair, he looked younger than I expected. He was also taller and broader than I thought he’d be, everything on a larger scale, including his hand around his cup of extra dry cappuccino.

“It’s nice to meet you, Marian,” he said with a charming but still sincere tilt of his head, pausing as I ordered my own tall latte, even lingering as the barista made my drink, telling me I was doing a hell of a job on my show. “It’s got a nice little following, doesn’t it?”

I nodded modestly, trying not to focus on the elegant cut of his suit and the cleft in his clean- shaven, square jaw. “Yes. We’ve been lucky so far. But we can do more to expand our audience . . . Have you ever watched it?”

It was bold to put your boss’s boss on the spot, and I knew the answer in his hesitation, saw that he was debating whether to admit he’d never actually seen my show.

He sheepishly told the truth, then added, “But I will tonight. And that’s a promise.” I sensed in that moment that he really was a man of his word— a reputation he had earned in a business full of lecherous, egomaniacal slicksters.

“Well, at least you know it’s on Thursday nights,” I say, feeling a wave of attraction and suddenly sensing that it wasn’t completely one- sided. It had been a long time since I had felt anything close to chemistry with someone— at least not someone so eligible on paper.

The next morning, to my delight, we both showed up at Starbucks at 7:50 A.M., once again, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he had done it on purpose, as I had.

“So, what did you think?” I asked with a hint of coyness— which wasn’t my usual style, especially at work. “Did you watch?”

“I loved it,” he announced, ordering his same drink but this time opting for whipped cream, proving he could be spontaneous. I felt myself beaming as I thanked him.

“Tight writing. And great acting. That Angela Rivers sure is a pistol, isn’t she?” he asked, referring to our up- and- coming, quirky, redhead lead who often drew comparisons to Lucille Ball. During casting, I had gone out on a limb and chosen her over a more established star, one of the best decisions I had ever made as a producer.

“Yes,” I said. “I can see an Emmy in her future.”

He nodded, duly noting. “Oh, and by the way,” he said, an endearing smile behind his eyes. “I not only watched the show, but I went back and watched the pilot online. And the rest of the first season. So I have you to thank for less than four hours of sleep last night.”

I laughed. “Afternoon espresso,” I said as we strolled to the elevator bank. “Works like a charm.”

He winked and said, “Sounds good. Around four-thirty?”

My heart pounded as I nodded, counting down the minutes to four- thirty that day, and for several weeks after that. It became our ritual, although for appearances, we always pretended that it was a coincidence.

Then one day, after I mentioned my love of hats, a package from Barneys appeared by messenger. Inside was a jaunty, black grosgrain beret with a card that read: To Marian, the only girl I know who could pull this one off.

I promptly called his direct dial from the network directory, delighted when he answered his own phone.

“Thank you,” I said.

“You’re welcome,” he said— with what I could tell was a smile.

“I love it,” I said, beaming back at him.

“How about the card? Was ‘girl’ okay? I debated ‘girl’ versus ‘woman.’” His second- guessing confirmed that he cared— and that he could be vulnerable. I felt myself falling for him a little more.

“I like ‘girl’ from you,” I said. “And I love the beret. Just glad that it wasn’t raspberry.”

“Or from a secondhand store,” he deadpanned. “Although I would love to see you in it. And if it was warm . . .”

I laughed, feeling flushed, a churning in my stomach, wondering when— not if— he was going to ask me out on an official date.

Three days later, we flew to Los Angeles for the Emmys on the network jet. Although my show hadn’t been nominated, we were getting a lot of great buzz and I had never felt better about my career. Meanwhile, Peter and I were getting some buzz of our own, a few rumors circulating, clearly due to our coffee break repartee. But we played it cool on the red carpet, and even more so at the after- parties, until neither of us could take it another second, and he sent me a text I still have saved on my iPhone: That dress is stunning.

I smiled, grateful that I had not only overspent on an Alberta Ferretti gown but had opted for emerald green instead of my usual black. Feeling myself blush, I turned to look in his direction as another text came in: Although it would look better on the floor.

I laughed and shook my head as he sent a final text: I promise I won’t try to find out if you meet me in twenty minutes. Room 732.

Less than ten minutes later we were in his room, finally alone, grinning at each other. I was sure that he’d kiss me immediately, but he showed a restraint that I found irresistible, increasingly more so with every glass of champagne we poured from the minibar. We grew tipsier by the hour as we talked about everything— the state of television, our network, my show, gossip about actors, and even more drama among the executives. He told me about his thirteen- year- old son Aidan and his ongoing divorce proceedings. Despite the fact that he jokingly referred to his ex as “the plaintiff,” he didn’t make her out to be the villain, which I found to be a refreshing change from the few other divorcés I had dated. We talked about places we had traveled, our favorite hotels and cities, and where we hoped to someday go, both literally and in our careers. We were different in some ways— I preferred the Caribbean or traditional urban trips to places like Rome and London, while he also loved exotic adventure, once pedaling through the Golden Triangle in Thailand, another time trekking up the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala. He had also taken more risks in business, which of course had paid off, while I generally avoided conflict and preferred to stick with something if it was working, even a little. Yet at the core, we had a common sensibility— a belief in striving for excellence and never settling, a love of New York and all that came with it, a sense of conservatism with a core philosophy that we should all live and let live, what ever our political or religious beliefs. He was handsome, confident, intelligent, and thoughtful— the closest I’d ever come to perfection. And I had the distinct feeling he might just like me too.

Then, as the California sky showed its first streaks of muted pink, he reached over and took my hand, pulled me onto his lap and kissed me in a way I hadn’t been kissed for years. We said good night a few minutes later, then laughed, and said good morning.

Within a few weeks, we were an established couple, even having the conversation about no longer wanting to see others. One evening, we were photographed dining together, our picture appearing in a blurb on Page Six with the caption: “Powerful Love Connection: TV Exec Peter Standish with Producer Marian Caldwell.” As the calls rolled in from friends and acquaintances who had seen the press,

I pretended to be some combination of annoyed and amused, but I secretly loved it, saving the clipping for our future children. Things would have seemed too good to be true, if I hadn’t always believed I could— and would— find someone like him.

Maybe they were too good to be true, I think now, squinting up at him as we turn the corner, hand in hand. Maybe we had stalled. Maybe this was as good as it was ever going to get. Maybe I was one of those girls, after all. Girls who wait or settle—or do some combination of both. Disappointment and muted anger well inside me. Anger at him, but more anger at myself for not facing the fact that when a person avoids a topic, it’s generally for a reason.

“I think I’m going home,” I say after a long stretch of silence, hoping that my statement doesn’t come across as self- pitying or manipulative, the two cards that never work in relationships— especially with someone like Peter.

“C’mon. Really?” Peter asks, a trace of surrender in his voice where I’d hoped to hear urgency. He was always so controlled, so measured, and although I usually loved the quality, it irritated me now. He abruptly stops, turns, and gazes down at me, taking both of my hands in his.

“Yeah. I’m really tired,” I lie, pulling my hands free.

 “Marian. Don’t do this,” he meagerly protests.

“I’m not doing anything, Peter,” I say. “I was just trying to have a conversation with you . . .”

“Fine,” he says, exhaling, all but rolling his eyes. “Let’s have a conversation.”

I swallow my dwindling pride and, feeling very small, say, “Okay. Well . . . can you see yourself getting married again? Or having another child?”

He sighs, starts to speak, stops, and tries again. “Nothing is missing in my life if that’s what you’re asking. I have Aidan. I have you. I have my work. Life is good. Really good. But I do love you, Marian. I adore you. You know that.”

I wait for more, thinking how easy it would be for him to appease me with a nonspecific promise: I don’t know what I see exactly, but I see you in my life. Or: I want to make you happy. Or even: I wouldn’t rule anything out. Something. Anything.

Instead, he gives me a helpless look as two cabs materialize, one after the other, a coincidence to which I ascribe all sorts of meaning. I flag the first and force a tight- lipped smile. “Let’s just talk tomorrow. Okay?” I say, trying to salvage what’s left of my image as a strong, independent woman and wondering if it’s only an image.

He nods as I accept a staccato kiss on the cheek. Then I slide in the cab and close my door, careful not to slam it, yet equally careful not to make eye contact with him as we pull away from the curb, headed toward my apartment on the Upper East Side.

 

 

Thirty minutes later, I’m changed into my oldest, coziest pair of flannel pajamas, feeling completely sorry for myself, when my apartment intercom buzzes once.

Peter.

My heart leaps with shameful, giddy relief as I nearly run to my foyer. I take a deep breath and buzz him up, staring at the door like my namesake Champ waiting for the mailman. I imagine that Peter and I will make up, make love, maybe even make plans. I don’t need a ring or a promise of a baby, I will say, as long as I know that he feels the way I do. That he sees us sharing a life together. That he can’t imagine us apart. I tell myself it isn’t settling— it’s the opposite— it’s what you do for love.

But a few seconds later, I round the corner to find not Peter at my door, but a young girl with angular features, a narrow face, and small, pointed chin. She is slight, pale, and almost pretty— at least I think she will be in a few years. She is dressed like a typical teenager down to her oversized backpack and peace sign necklace, but has a composed air, something telling me that she is not a follower.

“Hello,” I say, wondering if she is lost or has the wrong apartment or is peddling something. “Can I help you?”

She clears her throat, shifts her weight from left to right, and asks in a small, raspy voice, “Are you Marian Caldwell?”

“Yes,” I say, waiting.

She nervously tucks her long, dirty- blond hair behind her ears, which are a little on the big side or at least at an unfortunate angle to her head, a trait I understand too well, then glances down at her scuffed black boots. When her eyes meet mine again, I notice their distinctive color—bluish- gray and banded by black— and in that instant, I know exactly who she is and why she has come here.

“Are you . . . ?” I try to finish my sentence, but can’t inhale or exhale, let alone speak.

Her chin trembles as she nods the smallest of nods. “My name is Kirby Rose,” she says, wiping her palms on her jeans, threadbare at the left knee. “And . . .”

I stand frozen, anticipating the words I have imagined and feared, dreaded and dreamt about, for the last eighteen years. Then, just as I think my racing heart will explode, I finally hear her say them: “I think you’re my mother.”



Continues...

Excerpted from Where We Belong by Emily Giffin Copyright © 2012 by Emily Giffin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

A Special Note from Emily

Dear Readers,

After I finish writing a book, there is always a lag time of several months before it hits the shelves. In the past, I've been content to focus on the editing and marketing process, but this time, I am incredibly impatient for July 31st, the publication date for Where We Belong, to arrive. I simply can't wait to share Marian and Kirby and Conrad with all of you—and am dying to know what you think of their stories.

Where We Belong is written from the viewpoint of two women—thirty-six-year old Marian and eighteen-year-old Kirby. It a special book to me because it's the first time (since writing my unpublished YA novel) that I've written from the viewpoint of a teenager, and I simply adore Kirby. In fact, she is quite possibly my favorite character in any of my novels to date. Although I find Marian deeply sympathetic, in some ways she was a more complicated character to grasp, perhaps due to the secret she has kept for half of her life. Secrets have always fascinated me, and I loved exploring the questions surrounding them in Where We Belong: Why do people keep secrets, and what is their effect, both on those who cling to them and those who are kept in the dark? Are secrets and lies one and the same? Is there ever a circumstance when it's better to let the past remain undisturbed? Where We Belong also explores the issues of family, friendship, identity, and our sense of belonging. Are we more a product of our genes or the people who love us? Or is it our own choices that really define us in the end?

Unfortunately, I'll have to wait four more months before we can talk about these things together—hopefully face to face on my summer tour! Until then, I want to thank you for reading my books and for your amazing support during the last eight years of my publishing journey. I feel so lucky to have readers like you.

With warmest wishes,

Emily Giffin

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 358 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(164)

4 Star

(101)

3 Star

(52)

2 Star

(31)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 358 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 27, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book. very well written. Good story line with likea

    I loved this book. very well written. Good story line with likeable characters. One of fav

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    Like any of Emily Giffin's books she makes her readers fall in l

    Like any of Emily Giffin's books she makes her readers fall in love with the characters. Written in both Marian and Kirby's point of views, it gave us a better view of each character and their reaction to discovering each other and the secrets behind Kirby's adoption. I just fell in love with the entire book. I have read all of Emily's books and this one does not disappoint because it was addicting and full of emotions and love between all the characters. I read this book in one day!! Its one book that you will not be able to put down!

    The plot was great!! I loved the point of views from both Marian and Kirby because as a reader we see the past, future and what they are both up to after the adoption. Each of the characters were amazing to read about because many people can connect with Emily's writing. I even loved how she showed how Marian and Conrad met on that fateful night as well as falling in love during that great summer as well as discovering the truth of family, as well as finding pieces of yourself showing up on your doorstep. As the story went on the development of each character evolved as they got to know each other better. I really liked Conrad because he was one of those bad boys who is Marian's real true love and despite what was happening Marian did make a choice with her situation (not telling) and then meeting him in the book once Kirby sees him is the most rewarding to read about.

    Kirby is a character many can relate too because as young adults we go through the stages. Her own story is remarkable and her meeting Marian really changes her life because compared to her life at her "family" she never felt that she belonged and related to, but she is a smart, talented girl who would later discover who she is and where she belongs. Marian life has changed ever since meeting her daughter who she gave up for adoption and when these two women meet each other they develop a relationship and this is a different type of view compared to Emily Giffin past writing which makes this book shine!

    Where We Belong is one of the best books yet!! I am a big fan of Emily Giffin, because her writing is one of the best out there for those who love romance/contemporary in fiction. I could re-read this book over and over again because its soo memorable to go back and enjoy it again! I am looking forward to many more books by this fabulous author. I also love how she incorporate updates from her past books!! If you love Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot this book is for you!! You are missing out on this amazing book!! DEFINITELY A MUST READ!! + the cover is adorable.

    16 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Good yet refreshing allows readers to indulge!

    Good yet refreshing allows readers to indulge!

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 3, 2012

    I'm a huge fan of Emily Giffin, but she missed the mark on this

    I'm a huge fan of Emily Giffin, but she missed the mark on this one. 'Where We Belong' had no "meat" to the characters/story. This simply could have been a fault of the way it was written; every chapter switching between Marian, and Kirby. On top of that, it was written in the first person, (for each chapter), so I would forget who I was reading about. This style worked nicely in the beginning of the book, however, by the middle it just got confusing when both characters were together. Or maybe there was no "meat" simply because Giffin left it out. I think it's a combination of both.

    I felt as though the characters were robots. Especially in situations where many of them interact together. There could have been much more depth, interaction, and drama....but there was none of this! Made for a very boring book. As I turned each page, I expected it to get better. Much to my dismay, it never did.

    Many diehard Emily Giffin fans will probably like this book by default, but I didn't want to be bias. As much as it pains me to write a disappointing review, I must give my honest thoughts. I cringe to hear that there's a possibly of a sequel. I don't think this story line is strong enough to continue.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Not bad

    I'm not entirely sure it was worth 12.99, buuuut it was an okay read. I will say that the ending was sort of inconclusive, but that may just be her lining up for a following book with the same characters. If not, then I'd have to say the ending was less than stellar.

    10 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    I have read all of E.G.'s books and this was my least favorite o

    I have read all of E.G.'s books and this was my least favorite of them all. I love how she ties in characters from other novels (and provides updates). However I this story was a departure from what I expected of this book. I did not have the anxious feel with this book that I have had with all the others. It did not leave me on the verge of tears, getting angry with the characters,etc. that I felt with other books. I also agree with other reviews, I did not particularly care for the ending or how abrupt the ending seemed to be. I would wait to check this one out at the library!

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Wouldn't recommend

    I loved her writing, the characters, and plot. However, I agree with the others that the ending ruined it for me & was inconclusive. It was a big disappointment!

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2012

    REALLY?!

    This book had me hooked from the beginning. What happened Emily? So disappointed with the ending! I sure hope there is a second book because the ending was a big LET DOWN:(

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2012

    Great story ....Inconclusive Ending!

    I loved the entire book..up until the ending. I really hope the author is in the process of writing a sequel.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Anonymous

    Ms.Giffin is a gifted writer and a fabulous storyteller who creates characters that we care about. I would love this book were it not for its ending. I like depth of characterization and plausibility in the storyline, but l love happy endings! Life is hard enough, so please let me find vicarious pleasure when characters that an author has made me care about find happiness. This ending didn't do that. There has got to be more to the story. Ms. Giffin, please don't let Marian and Conrad be another Scarlett and Rhett!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2012

    Did NOT Like!! :(

    I love all of her books except this one. I did not care for the plot. I also felt parts of the book were repetative and long. Not her best work!! Boring!! Never-ending!!!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    The book kept me very engaged throughout. If this would have en

    The book kept me very engaged throughout. If this would have ended differently I would have given this a higher rating. However, the book really left me hanging with limited closure for Marian and Conrad which really ruined the overall book/reading experience. It seemed as if the author copped out with a "maybe she'll do this or maybe she'll do that" type ending. This was very disappointing.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Another great book by Griffin

    I generally only read non fiction. For this author I make an exception! This book is wonderful and told in a unique way! GREAT read, hands down! For those that felt "let down" at the end....read it again....you missed the point! And not everything in life wraps up like a Christmas present! You will not be disappointed with this book....a definite summer read!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2012

    Best Summer read!

    This is by far the best novel I've ever read! It makes you fall in love with love and look at the dynamic that makes a family. Makes you remember that genuine love from our 1st love!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    All nighter

    I stayed up all night so i could finish it. I laughed but i cried more. Love!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    Love Lost & Found

    I have read most of Emily Giffin's prior books, and although this one was not my favorite, it was a quick, easy and entertaining story. The only think that I was a little annoyed with was the sudden ending. There was not a whole lot of closure, I guess it's just up to our imaginations!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Character voices were inconsistent, and characters lacked depth

    It seemed that all throughout the book, you only saw what was on the surface of characters and situations. The story is told from the point of view of Kirby and Marion, but the author's voice penetrates the characters, and they speak in ways that they shouldn't. The high powered executive would slip into a loosey goosey speech, riddled with grammatical errors. And conversely, Kirby (whose 18 year old rebellious nature made grammatical errors more tolerable) would suddenly erupt into a perfectly crafted description that, while sometimes it was good writing, was not in character. Characters also tended to behave in ways that were inconsistent with their natures. Isolated deviations can be rebellious choices, but these inconsistencies were too frequent and haphazard.

    Marion's friends seemed to be invented because not having friends is not believable. But so many of these characters lacked enough depth to contribute to the story. Why should you trust a friend's advice? Their character depth will rell you that they're reliable, or fun but irresponsible, or always optimistic. In my opinion, the one liners of advice they give were just as shallow, and the lot of them could have been left out entirely.

    It seemed that the author was afraid to talk about tough issues, only glossing over deep topics by mentioning that the characters talked about something important over a burger. You get no deeper glimpses into the important things, but have highly detailed descriptions of the activites people employ to avoid talking about important issues. This was highly disappointing.

    Other reviews mention displeasure with the ending, which didn't bother me so much (life isn't always wrapped up neatly), but I'd say the whole book left something wanting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Not Giffin's Best

    I am a HUGE fan of Emily Giffin and have ready all of her other books and loved ALL of them. The characters in ths book seemed forced and unnatural and the ending was very underwhelming. I will continue to be a fan of her work, but this book has been my least favorite, by far.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    a quick read that didn't leave me saticsfied

    This is the first time I've read this author. The story line was good and this was one reason I bought the book. It was the ending that was disappointing--I guessed what happened before I was half way through the book. This is a book for people who don't put much thought into what's written. It's definetly not for book club discussion as it's not much to discuss. I'd probably read her again to fill in some time between books where I don't have to put much thought into the reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2012

    Great Giffin Read

    I have enjoyed most of her books and this one did not fail. Kirby and Marian were great characters. Sure some of the side characters were a little stiff but all-in-all a quick and satisfying read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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