Josee's Reviews > Where We Belong

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
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's review
Jul 27, 2012

really liked it
Read from July 27 to 28, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I think this was Emily Giffin's best book since the Something Borrowed/Something Blue books. (I read her others, but they didn't resonate like the first two, or this one, for that matter). While Marion is kind of -- well -- unlikeable, Kirby is great. Maybe Giffin purposefully made Marion one of the least likeable characters of the book (because she did an unlikeable thing), but I couldn't really get on board behind her character or the "I don't want to mess up my perfect life" road she seemed to be on. Although the "good" parent vs "bad parent was very much a theme, I'm glad that Kirby was able to understand both her biological parents.

Maybe I liked this book more than another person might because I'm adopted. While I've never necessarily felt like I didn't belong, or that I had unexplained traits (like Kirby had her music and her aloofness), I could understand her...plight to fit in and to want to know her origins. For me, Kirby and her struggles were real - not just everyday teenage struggles, but struggles that went deeper than that. Granted, I felt like she was bringing a lot of it on herself, at times I felt like she was resentful of her situation and didn't really help her cause. She probably gave "difficult teenager" a new meaning. But I'm glad a lot of cliches were avoided: 1. Charlotte was NICE, and I think that was key to making this story work. 2. Marian and Lynn didn't bond or get along - there was no falseness there. 3. Marian still has a lot to come to terms with, and that's ok.

The only part of Marian's story that I liked was when she talked about the summer, 18 years ago, when Kirby was conceived. That was the only part of Marian's story that felt REAL - and maybe that was the point, Giffin was trying to show us something? The rest felt too...glossy...even her high-powered N.Y. boyfriend (who despite seeming perfect, I really didn't like either). I liked Kirby's story a lot more. I liked how real she felt, I liked feeling her disdain, her anger, her anguish, her sarcasm...just everything about her. (In that respect, with the switching viewpoints and all, this book reminded me of Jennifer Weiner's "Then Came You" -- maybe a little bit too much).

At the end of the book, I think this was more Kirby's story than Marian's, although at first I had the opposite impression.

The book did drag a little and the whole prom storyline felt a little forced in order to prove to Kirby that she should be grateful for what she has. But her end-of-story realizations were a little too neat for me. In 2 months she finds her birth parents, manages to pass her finals to graduate, gives up her "I hate the world" attitude, gets a boyfriend (of sorts) and decides to stop rebelling and consider going to college? Ha. come on!!!
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