Where We Belong [Book]

Have you read this book? 

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

From ew.com “The book follows Marian Caldwell, a successful TV producer, who gets a shock when (minor spoiler alert!) Kirby, the daughter she gave up for adoption 18 years ago, arrives at her door. Giffin uses alternate point of views to tell the heartfelt story of Marian and Kirby, and how they both cope with their newfound relationship.”

I read it yesterday, cover to cover (well, sort of since I read it on my iPad). I highlighted a number of passages. 

In short I liked it and thought it was well done in terms of the accurate portrayal of the emotional dynamics of  search and reunion (at least as I have experienced, noting that I cannot comment on the adoptee narrative in the book but I could relate to the mother, particularly in one majorly whopping way).

I have some thoughts but would love to discuss interactively in comments if anyone here has read it. 

If you read, what did you think about Kirby?

What were your thoughts on Marian and her reaction to being found? What did you think about Marian in general? About her “choices”?

How strong was Marian’s mothers influence in relation to the adoption? Did Marian’s socio economic status contribute to the adoption?

How about Conrad?

Did the title of the book make sense to you? How did you interpret it?

If no one has read it, I will ramble on in a separate post about the passages I highlighted and why.


9 Thoughts.

  1. I’ve been thinking about reading this since it came out but couldn’t make up my mind. I’ve read Emily Giffin’s other books and while I enjoyed them, I also felt that she sometimes glosses over major issues to get to a happy ending. I was afraid that the same would be true with this book. I also read an interview with Ms. Giffin about the book and she made a comment about having so much respect for women who choose to give up their babies to a better life or something like that. It made me skeptical that she would be able to tell this story in a way that I could relate to. Now you’re making me think maybe I should give it a try!

    • Eileen – I just finished reading another similar, yet older book, titled Blessings by Belva Plain. Have you read that one? I found it MUCH more realistic. I have a post in draft on that book. BARF on Giffin saying that about women who surrender their children to a different (not better) life. That would have annoyed me. Glad I heard about it after I had read it. Give it a try and come back and tell me your thoughts!

  2. I finished Where We Belong yesterday and I can’t really say that I liked it. I wanted to like it but there were just too many things that I couldn’t get past. Too much of “the adoptive family is the real family, I only have one real mother, adoption was the best decision for Kirby” and so on. I had to skim in parts because it just seemed so over the top with the typical adoption propaganda.

    The biggest thing for me though was how this book really made Marian the bad guy. Truthfully, outside of Kirby, none of the women in this book are particularly sympathetic characters, but she really places the blame for the adoption squarely on Marian’s shoulders. Apparently she has the support of everyone in her life including her parents and the baby’s father, yet she somehow chooses adoption. The situation with her parents is absolutely ridiculous, especially when her father tells her so much later that he knew all along and he wanted to help her keep the baby. And then, Marian apologizes to him for giving her up? Also, Marian is painted as such a snob that even though she loves Conrad she just knows that they can never be together because he’s not planning on going to college. It just seemed really hard for me to relate to. Most of the mothers I know, myself included, had no support at all from any corner. I really felt like this is just what people who haven’t been through it believe though – that we mothers just didn’t want our children because they weren’t convenient. And we all had resources to keep them, but chose not to because we wanted to be able to shop at Barney’s. Ugh! And of course, Kirby has nothing in common with Marian. The father, yes, but apparently she can’t see herself in her own mother at all. It just seemed like piling on.

    And still, I wanted to like this book because it really shows that Kirby needed to know where she came from. Even after she finds Marian and they get off to a rocky start, they still want to have a relationship. The book really portrays this very well I thought. But even though it feels like we’re seeing how important her natural parents are to Kirby, we’re still inundated with “they’re not my real parents though.” I also didn’t like how they made it seem like meeting her parents “fixed” Kirby. Suddenly she’s not moody and sullen and she gets a boyfriend and decides to go to college. And realizes that her adoptive family is where she really belongs! Double ugh.

    I guess the best thing about this book is that a lot of people will read it because Emily Giffin is very popular. Since most people already believe all of the adoption myths, it’s probably not so bad that the story is filled with them and at least they might get to see some of the other side of the story.

    • Eileen – Thank you for this review. I am inclined to agree with you on nearly all points. Curious? Have you read the book titled Blessings by Belva Plain? I related to it much more strongly and found it a better representation of what mothers truly experience. If you have read that book (or will do so) how you compare it to Where We Belong?

  3. Pingback: Blessings [Book] | Writing My Wrongs

  4. Suz, everyone, I’ve been so intereted in your review of the Giffin book and also Blessings, I wish I’d read Blessings 20 yrs ago, it might have helped me face reunion when a social worker first called me- which I was unable to do.
    Finally I did, I don’t know how because I was in such terror and denial- but beside the point, my one thought is that those of us who read the giffin book- ( I haven’t yet) should write a review on amazon, because I for one read those reviews, and it will open the eyes of other people who would ordinarily buy in to ‘adoption is so great for everyone myth.

  5. Suz, I’ve just read this post again, and still haven’t read ‘Blessings’ or the Giffin book.
    I have read 2nd chance mother.
    The book I really got alot out of recently was ‘FOUND’ by Jennifer Lauck.
    I could not put it down.
    I then read her earlier book ‘Blackbird’ – I liked Found the best.
    Her writing was excellent, and the story- so helpful to me.

    • Hi Katrina! Happy Holidays. I have also read FOUND. I loved it. I also read Blackbird I felt it was honest, real, had depth. Lauck does a great job of showing all sides (McMahon does this well also). I enjoy and admire adoptee memoirs that are full and robust of all sides and not just a one sided rant about how awful their bio mother is, how they don’t need her, never did, want her to go away etc. While those are certainly valid feelings, and the authors POV, they don’t feel fully developed to me. I prefer the full spectrum, the entire story. Lauck does this great.

  6. Suz, I really liked McMahon ‘s book also.
    Right now I’m reading “living mistakes’ by Kate Inglis, who died recently, it’s painful, and not so recent, she ‘s Australian, I start crying whenever I read it, but I really like it. Xxxooooc

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