Where We Belong: A Novel

Where We Belong: A Novel

Paperback | April 16, 2013

byEmily Giffin

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The author of several blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin's Where We Belong delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying 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 sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian's perfectly constructed world-and her very identity-will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.

For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey 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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Where We Belong: A Novel

Paperback | April 16, 2013
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From the Publisher

The author of several blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin's Where We Belong delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them togetherMarian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling car...

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 several New York Times bestselling novels, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You're With,...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8.27 × 5.49 × 1 inPublished:April 16, 2013Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312554184

ISBN - 13:9780312554187

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Customer Reviews of Where We Belong: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Where we Belong I actually enjoyed this novel! the story was really interesting, the characters were likable and I found I wanted to know more. The ending felt too abrupt and I wish there was more to it, but it was a good easy read. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Where We Belong I read through this book rather quickly because I just wanted it to be over. It was not enjoyable. Not one of her better books.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Standard Emily Giffin Checked out of the library for some much needed escapism. A story about a rough around the edges teenager meeting her biological parents, also told from the bio mother's POV. Nothing too earth shattering, but a smooth, easy read. The characters were all likeable but believably flawed. I wouldn't discourage anyone reading this one. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! Easy and quick to read! Loved all the books in this series
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Thoroughly enjoyed this read and the storyline.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Where we belong I completely enjoyed this book along with all of her other books. Didn't want them to end. Also, I liked how a few of them carrred the characters to the next book. Wish there were more to read.
Date published: 2015-07-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Where we belong Great book! Made me cry many times. A wonderful story on past mistakes and how there can still be beauty in the future.
Date published: 2015-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Where We Belong An okay read. My least favourite Emily Giffin book.
Date published: 2014-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! I read this book last year during a trip from NB to QC by car and was able to finish the whole book by the time I had reached my destination. Not because I had about 9 hours with nothing to do, but because I couldn't put the book down! I LOVE the way it's written and it has inspired me to read all of her other books which were also great! Can't wait for the next one!!!! :)
Date published: 2014-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! Great book! Easy read couldn't put it down near the end :)
Date published: 2014-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome! I'll read anything of hers, but this was one of my faves. Beautiful story, loved the characters and hope there's a movie and-or a sequel soon! Very easy fast read :-)
Date published: 2014-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Where We Belong Emily Giffin at her best. A situation I am sure a lot of people have nagging at them....what do you do when that knock comes at your door. Done well...enjoyed immensely.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Where We Belong This was a great read. Easy to like characters with a storyline that flows easily. A must read
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read. I have read all of Emily Giffin's books. I love that the characters in each book have some kind of relationship with another character from her other books. While this book is not my favorite from her, you wont be disappointed if you are after a nice light read. Can't wait for more books from this author. 
Date published: 2014-01-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Easy read..! "Where we belong" by Emily Giffin is a well written story about two women. On one side, Marian's life is seemingly perfect. She is a 36 year old successful television producer in New York and dating the perfect man. But her perfect world is turned upside down when her biggest secret, an unplanned child she gave up for adoption 18 years ago, shows up at her door. On the other side, Kirby is understandably dealing with the "Why don't I fit in?" "Where do I come from?" "What do I want to do with my life?" questions that you'd expect from an adopted teenager. Kirby's appearance makes Marian question her own life, her past choices and whether her present happiness is real or surreal. Alternating between Marian and Kirby’s points of view, it’s easy to get pulled into the story. As a reader I felt and understood the emotions of both main characters but I felt a little disappointed with the ending, I like knowing instead of speculating, an epilogue would've being great. Overall I liked the book and I do recommend because it is an easy read.
Date published: 2013-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I want more. Amazing book. I didn't want it to end and wish it woukd have kept going. The characters are easy to relate to and you fall in love with them all. I really hope there is a sequel.
Date published: 2013-09-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining Marian Caldwell, New York producer of a hit show, thinks that her life is just about perfect. Great boyfriend, great career, and beautiful East Side apartment. And then one day, the past stands before her in the form of Kirby, her biggest secret, an unplanned child she gave up for adoption 18 years ago. As the perfect life Marian created starts to shatter, she gets to know her daughter, and confronts her past, which she has pushed away for years. The back story of Marian's past and what lead to Kirby is woven in with the story and Marian and Kirby getting to know each other and try to figure out where they fit into each other lives and really where they want to go with their own lives now. The chapters her alternate in voices from Marian to Kirby's, with sections woven in of Marian at 18. The information is given to the reader as we need it and the characters remember, having the reader piece the present and past together and see how they relate to each other. Finally, the novel addresses the important question of Kirby’s birth father, Conrad Knight. Marion lied to Conrad about her pregnancy; and while he is delighted to meet Kirby, who shares his talent and passion for music, he is rightfully angry with Marion, who never told him about the existence of his only child. The interplay of the families involved - Marion and her mother and father and Peter Standish, Kirby and her mother, father, and sister, and Conrad Knight - is highly entertaining and realistic. And Marion’s transformation by her decision to tell Conrad the truth leaves room for yet another novel about these lovable and interesting families. The book got better and better progressively and the highlight was probably when Marian saw Kirby and Conrad together in the bar, playing the drums like it was all meant to be. That was probably the turning point of Marian's character development and it's from there that we start to see the subtle shift in her priorities and her needs. A compelling read, this book is an improvement on her other novels Heart of the Matter, Love the One You're With and Baby Proof, but perhaps doesn't live up to the first two in the series, Something Borrowed and Something Blue. Still, the plot moves along fairly quickly and all in all, it's a fast read.
Date published: 2013-08-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed it! It was a good entertaining read
Date published: 2013-04-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh I have read all of Emily Giffin's books and this is by far my least favorite.
Date published: 2013-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Where We Belong I loved this book. Every time I had to put it down I couldn't wait to start reading again. Captivating. Great personalization in the characters.
Date published: 2013-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourite authors Beautifully written! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that I too am exactly where I belong.
Date published: 2013-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nice, light read I think I've read all of Emily Giffin's books. They are reliable if predictable. It was a great book to read over the Christmas holidays, especially when you've given up sugar. It's a light confection, one that you will mow through quickly and it will promptly leave your brain. I got a Kobo for Christmas and I downloaded the ebook version of this one, which was perfect because I know I won't ever read it again. I would recommend this if you want to read something that requires very little of you.
Date published: 2013-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Book was good, only part I didn't really care for was the ending. Expected a little more. But overall was a good read.
Date published: 2012-12-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Touching Story I really enjoyed "Where we Belong" because once again, it was an easy read yet with enough depth to keep you interested. You really get in touch with each of the main characters (which I like because it connects you more to the story), however, I felt as if the ending didn't do justice. I expected more.
Date published: 2012-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This is the first book I've read by Emily Giffin. I loved it. If this is her usual writing style, I'll be buying more books by this author. I lent this book to a friend and she read it in 3 days. She was surprised by the ending as was I.
Date published: 2012-09-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, but not great I generally enjoy Emily Giffin's books as nice fluffy escapes. This one didn't quite live up to my expectations. It was good, and I enjoyed the writing style per usual, but the storyline wasn't as engaging as I would have liked. It was pretty predictable, and while the story of an adopted child seeking out her birth parents is dramatic, the plot fell a bit flat. I enjoyed it enough to see how it ended (and was glad the ending wasn't as predictable as the balance of the book). Good enough but I'm not raving.
Date published: 2012-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth the wait.... I love all of Emily Giffin's novels for her writing style and method to keep you reading, this book I could not put down and read it in 3 days. I waited a month or so for it to come out and must say it was well worth the wait. It is a great storyline one in fact that is very real for a lot of people & although this particular topic is foreign to me I enjoyed going thru the emotions of the characters while they journeyed thru this amazing story. I love the writing style of Emily Giffin and have to say if you are looking for a great read that you can't put down until you absolutely have to - then buy this one it is a great read. Happy reading!
Date published: 2012-08-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not Convinced I was more excited waiting for the release of Where We Belong than I was with the actual book. I loved all of Emily Giffin’s other novels, but this one just let me down. It’s like it didn’t matter that this story, and the characters in it, had no substance because she could coast on the success of her last books. I really didn’t like Kirby’s perspective. I think that Giffin gave no thought to her character and just used a convenient cliché. There was no depth to her. She was adopted, confused about who she was, and rebellious. That’s it. Oh, and she played the drums, because what rebel doesn’t play an instrument? I also think that her voice was too juvenile for eighteen years old. I get the impression that Giffin wanted to pop out a book as fast as she could, and thought it was easiest to write a teenager. The other people in the book weren’t all that better. The problem is that all of those little complexities that make a person who they are weren’t there. Instead of personalities the characters were just titles; producer, teenager, musician. Not only was I upset with the characters, but I did not appreciate their actions either. Kirby could’ve had a little more tact when she was meeting her parents. The way she forced herself into these complete stranger’s lives was a little inappropriate for her age. She should know better. But Marian’s reaction to Kirby was worse. It was ridiculous. What kind of person would act as she did upon meeting their own flesh and blood? *SPOILER* The love story between Marian and Conrad was kind of cute, but nothing happens between them. I do understand that it’s supposed to be the story of Marian and Kirby. However, since their story was so superficial and emotionless, I figured there would at least be the relationship between the biological parents to supplement the book. In the end, I thought Where We Belong was a flop. It was a promising idea, but wasn’t done well. I don’t recommend this book.
Date published: 2012-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best One Yet!! 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.
Date published: 2012-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful read! It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Chick Lit books. I have shelves full of my favourite authors, like Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner, Gemma Townley, and Emily Giffin — I adore them so much that when a new book comes out, I don’t even bother reading what it’s about, I just buy it. With Emily Giffin’s latest, I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy from the publisher, but I still had no clue what the book was about. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it really wasn’t the normal Chick Lit fare about a man and a woman falling in love, with cute things happening along the way. In fact, all of the love happens right in the beginning — 18 years ago — between a boy and a girl in high school. The result is 18-year-old Kirby, who shows up on Marian’s doorstep, starting a story about love, loss, secrets, and family. This was an amazing story! The entire book is narrated by the two main characters — Kirby and Marian. This works out very well and it was nice to go back to the past with both stories, seeing what led up to the creation of Kirby, and what led Kirby to seek out her birth mother. The result is a story that focuses on the choices we make, the people they hurt, and the decisions that we have to live with for the rest of our lives. Emily Giffin writes astounding characters. I loved Marian right off the bat, even her “highfalutin” lifestyle as a TV producer. It was nice to see that not everything was perfect for her and I liked how not all of her story was told right off the bat — instead, there are bits and pieces of her past told as the story goes on, putting plenty of twists and turns in front of the reader. The same goes for Kirby. I completely understood why Kirby did what she did — being a teenage girl, Kirby is awkward and unsure of where she fits in life. Being adopted, she wonders if she fits with her adopted family at all. I loved watching her grow as the novel went on, seeing her relationships change with her family and friends. The thing that really made this book work was how true to life it was. I’d like to think, though, that in real life the situation would be just slightly messier and not so well accepted, but Emily Giffin does a wonderful job of putting her readers into the minds of two people who are making (or who have made) huge decisions in their life — life-altering decisions. The other thing that made this book work — and it’s something Griffin has done in the past — is that the reader is able to get into the head of both characters, to see both sides of the story. With a story so delicate as one about adoption, seeing the different perspectives is crucial and Giffin pulls it off well. Where We Belong really is a beautiful read and probably one of Giffin’s best. Highly recommended! Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing me a copy of the book for review!
Date published: 2012-07-22

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Read from the Book

1marian 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 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 had 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 allowed to speak only 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 one 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 brace 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 tonight? 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 Montblanc 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 England 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 Park Slope. To pay the bills, I sold a couple specs and did freelance assignments 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. I found myself ditching my other projects and sketching out their backstories, until 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 pilot to all the major networks, a bidding war ensued. I took a 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 in-box—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 seen my show.He sheepishly told the truth, then added, “But I will tonight. And that’s a promise.” I had the gut feeling 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 it?”“Yes. And 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 blushed and shook my head as he sent a final text: I promise I won’t try to find out if you meet me upstairs. Room 732.Less than ten minutes later we were in his room, finally alone, grinning at each other. I felt 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. 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 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, whatever our political or religious beliefs. He was handsome, confident, intelligent, and thoughtful—the closest I’d ever come to perfection.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.But 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 this 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.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 she 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 side to side, and asks in a small, raspy voice, “Are you Marian Caldwell?”“Yes,” I say, waiting.“My name is Kirby Rose,” she finally says, tucking 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, then wipes her palms on her jeans, threadbare at the left knee.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.” Copyright © 2012 by Emily Giffin

Editorial Reviews

"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