Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
I needed to wash my brain of the Fifty Shades series, but I didn’t want anything too arduous or deep either. I have read all of Emily Giffin’s books by now. I know what to expect with her, in that she brings all of her female characters through journeys. Ones that are real, emotional, and full of actual development.
Many of Giffin’s books are the same way. All of them feature thirtysomething women. All of them have been set somewhat in New York City or in that tristate area. All of the women and most of their circle are Caucasian. They are all firmly Upper Middle Class or are by the time of the books. I differ from these protagonists in age, socio-economics, and ethnicity, and yet, I really like Giffin’s brand of chick lit. She forces all of her women to go through emotional upheavals and change themselves. They are usually women who are good, flawed and therefore, human. They actually grow and develop in the books! I love that in characters.
There is a faint formula in all her works, but they all feel really similar in a good way. Still, it would be boring if they were all exactly a like. I think this is definitely one of my favourite of her works.
The book deals with two characters, adoption, and the relationships around that. The first person narratives switches from Marian (token Giffin protagonist) and her daughter Kirby whom she gave up for adoption. The story weaves how their relationship develops after they meet again, and all the relationships around it from Kirby’s adopted family to Marian’s family and friends and to Conrad, Kirby’s biological father.
Adoption is a very interesting topic for me. It always has been. I am not adopted and I do not have any friends who were, but it has always appealed to me. I don’t always read books about it either, but this is one of those times, when an author I like explores a topic I am fascinated by.
It really worked out because I found this touching and realistic. Kirby is really self-possessed for a teenager, but she still retains that awkwardness, obstinacy, and dismissiveness that plagues many a teenage girl. Also, where were guys like Philip Chang or Conrad Knight when I was a teenager? Giffin also makes so many of her male love interests dreamy… even the adolescent ones! Well, it isn’t chicklit if there isn’t charming men.
Another reason I like Giffin’s books are that they are all connected in some way. They happen in this same universe where many of the female protagonists know each other. Sometimes the connection is tenuous, but often like in this book, they are close friends. Marian is best friends with Claudia from Baby Proof. This gives the loyal reader an icing on the cake snippet of other previous protagonists. Generally, it means just an update to say, “They are still happy!” But whatever, it’s nice because readers get attached and all.
Something that I really liked about this book that stood out is the ending. This is chick lit so the ending is almost always happily ever after, and they usually are with her books. I won’t spoil and the ending is a happy one, but not quite conventional. For awhile there, it was looking to get into cheese factory, but I was very pleased with the real result. It is different than her usual endings, but then again, she could change it so that in the update Marian ends up with “X”. That wouldn’t bother me too much, but I liked how Giffin took a different road this time.
Read September 2nd, 2012.