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Where We Have to Go

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  166 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Named NOW Magazine’s Best Emerging Local Author

Where We Have to Go
is a luminous and sassy first novel about the last days of childhood in a family coming apart at the seams. At once wryly humorous and deeply affecting, this sparkling novel follows the irresistible Lucy Bloom as she searches for her place in the world.

When we first meet Lucy, she’s an imaginative eleven-
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 16th 2009 by Emblem Editions
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I thought I would be ga-ga over the moon for this book. It has all the ingredients I’m usually such a sucker for – coming-of-age; first-person narrator; dysfunctional family; humor; the mother and daughter relationship; it’s even set in Canada during a time period that should make me feel nostalgic. I really liked it, parts of it work amazingly well, but overall I’m left feeling empty and a little cheated. It’s like I was promised a real, live, bloody beating heart and then after being led down ...more
This coming of age novel is told from the point of view of protagonist Lucy Bloom.

Growing up in the Canadian city of Toronto during the 1990s, Lucy ages from 11 to 17 while experiencing great changes and teenage angst. Much of the story revolves around Lucy’s friends and family and how they all change along with her.

The story begins with Lucy in the eighth grade, looking forward to high school. Her world is suddenly ripped apart when she realizes her father, Frank, is having an affair with the s
Oct 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
I don't understand why this book hasn't recieved more recognition in terms of book awards, etc. Perhaps there has not been enough time in the market as yet. I think it is beautiful. But not if you ware wanting action, mystery, moving plot. If you like to get to know characters and if you enjoy beautiful writing you will be happy with this novel about a family just trying to get by. Like most of us. Lives of quiet desperation, my pessimistic husband used to say. I liked the metaphor that was crea ...more
Shannon Mullen
Sep 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!! I found Lucy's struggle to be accepted as her quirky cat-loving self so real. It is reflective of the difficulties that teenaged girls face in trying to preserve their sense of self while being encouraged to change their differences in order to fit in with the popular crowd. I highly recommend this book and think that all teenaged girls (and their mothers) would benefit from reading it!
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved it, loved it. When I really think about it, it's kind of a typical coming of age story, but the writing and Lucy's voice is just so original and so RIGHT. I stayed up past 1am finishing it.

Also, this book has about 325 pages, not 256.
Reshad Mubtasim-fuad
Every compelling novel has its characters experience their emotional ups and downs, humorous moments, pitfalls, and eventual resurgence. All these elements of character development come together wonderfully in Canadian author Lauren Kirshner's first ever novel, Where We Have To Go, making it as compelling a read as ever.

The entirety of the novel is told through the first-person perspective of Lucy Bloom, throughout her years of adolescence and young adulthood. Her parents constantly argue with e
Lydia Laceby
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian

Originally reviewed at Novel Escapes

Where We Have to Go is a thoroughly enjoyable coming of age tale full of quirky characters, humour and angst. This story shines a light on some of the darker realities of a faultering marriage from a child's perspective and the long lasting effects of such a tumultuous upbringing. This novel could have been much more grim but Kirshner handles the fine line between humour and somber so deftly that the serious issues never come across as being made light of, wh
Canadian Reader
Kirshner's debut novel is the mostly sparkling coming-of-age story of Lucy Bloom, from early adolescence to young adulthood. Kirshner explores the dynamics of a secular, working-class, 1980s/90s Toronto Jewish family grappling with marital infidelity, alcoholism, and eating disorders, as well as the central character's negotiation of friendship, sexual awakening and identity. The above (dirty) laundry list of "issues" perhaps makes the book sound grim and dark, but the story is leavened by cons ...more
Carrie Ardoin
Lucy Bloom is 11 years old, and she loves Alf, and her cat Lulu. Her life is simple but soon gets more complicated. Her family is drifting apart before her, and there's nothing she can do to stop it.

The book continues to tell the story of Lucy throughout her teenage years. She has more than enough problems to face in a lifetime, let alone just those few precious years. As Lucy moves towards adulthood, she learns the truth is not always what is seems, and learns to look at her parents as real peo
Miz Moffatt
Where We Have To Go sparkles in its sad revelations on the life of one young girl stuck in one dysfunctional family. Lauren Kirshner marks her debut with a fine-tuned novel filled with ample quirk, a touch of spunk, and a whole lot of tragic circumstances. As the novel opens, the eleven-year-old Lucy dreams of freedom in the shape of a bicycle. Her vision dissipates when she receives a pair of second-hand roller skates for her birthday, and when she becomes conscious of her parents' marital trou ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kellie Stame
I just finished this book for my book club and very much enjoyed it. The 70s, 80s and 90s brought back a lot of my childhood memories for me. I enjoyed reading about the styles of the times. I related to the main character because I remember as a child growing up in a household where my parents fought and not knowing what I could do to stop it from happening. I felt a special bond with my dog to get me through those times. What disturbed me about the book is how often the parents dragged their o ...more
Elvina Barclay
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When we meet Lucy Bloom she is an awkward, funny 11-year old living with her parents, her pets,and a family of mannequins in their Toronto backyard. Her realization that her happy family is slowing breaking apart as her parents fight, leads her to develop some quirky habits and when she reaches her teen years and high school turn into full blown anorexia. Even her parents reconciliation does not put her life back together. We see Lucy finally come into her own as a young adult and blossom as a u ...more
April Forker
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book on a Goodreads giveaway and was excited to add it to my "to read" shelf. I really enjoyed this book and loved that it was different than any book I have read. It tells the story of Lucy, a girl growing up in Canada in the 1990's and everything that goes on her life - her parents and their odd habits as well as their marriage struggles, her own struggles to fit in as a pre-teen and teenager, and the relationships that she has during this time with her family and few close friends. ...more
Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
This story was far too depressing...all the way through. A young girl going through the dark years of adolescence, living with dysfunctional parents, surrounded by people with very few redeeming qualities. The book was well written and it could possibly appeal to those who enjoy coming-of-age reads but it reminded me of the constant suffering in "She's Come Undone" and the no-way-out-of-hell feeling in "Revolutionary Road".
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: coming-of-age
For me, the pleasure of reading Where We Have to Go was foremost that of experiencing Lauren Kirshner's gift for capturing and delivering details that so accurately evoke the ghosts of a girl's teenage years (I say this as someone who likewise experienced teenage-hood in the 90s). What's more, these evocations are steeped in the humour of a truly unique and special imagination. This was a deeply entertaining read.
Aug 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
Lauren Kirshner's newest book is a great debut. She chronicles a family falling apart in 1990s Toronto. It went in a different direction that I expected it to go in. Her writing is quite beautiful and descriptive and I would definitely check out her next book. This was a pretty dark book, but there were glints of hope and relief for the main character. I stayed up late reading it, which is probably a sign that it was a good read.
Nov 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Lucy knows her parents are having problems, and figures out it has to do with her Dad's interest in an ex-exotic dancer that he photographed many years ago.

A little bit Lethem, but with a female sensibility and a certain Canadian urbanity that is recognizable.

The characters are interesting, for the most part, and Kirshner brings us sideways to the many ways that we internalize dysfunction.

It was a pretty good read.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Over a period of years, a young girl will struggle, against the backdrop of her parents' decaying marriage, to find her place in the world. This book plods from one incident to another, from her anorexia at age 14 to her mother's death. I found the book flat, even for a first novel.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Looking forward to reading Lauren Kirshner's debut novel! A brilliant novel - I highly recommend it.
Jul 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Quirky, funny, sad.. I had a hard time putting it down. Dysfunctional family + true-to-life moments + quirky kid behaviours + cats with jobs = I really hope Lauren Kirshner keeps writing.
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminded me a lot of She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb. I very much enjoyed it.
Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fabulous! I couldn't put it down. It made me laugh and cry and remember. What a great writer!
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a solidly well-written and touching story. I definitely enjoyed this one and would suggest it to anyone
Rhea Tregebov
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wonderful new voice. Love this author.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This one just didn't pull me in. Everything and everyone in it is dull and sad and depressing. Not an enjoyable read for me to say the least.
Lauren Kirshner
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This is my book! Yay!
Phoenix Carvelli
Review copy won on on 3-21-12.
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Named "Toronto's Best Emerging Author" by NOW Magazine, Lauren Kirshner's debut novel Where We Have to Go was a finalist for the 2010 City of Toronto Book Award and called "a very strong original debut" by The Globe and Mail. The story of an exceptional girl's coming-of-age in 1990s Toronto, Where We Have to Go was published in translation in The Netherlands and Germany, and is forthcoming in the