Marian Caldwell has kept a secret for nearly two decades. The thirty-six-year-old television producer lives a charmed life in New York City with a hit television show and a rich and attractive boyfriend. When she answers a knock on the door one evening, she finds Kirby Rose, the eighteen-year-old daughter whom she gave up for adoption.
“I stand frozen, anticipating the words I had 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.’” (p. 13)In that moment in time, everything changes for both women.
Their story is told from alternating perspectives. Marian describes her struggles with the biological clock and her relationship with her producer boyfriend, Peter. When the subject of marriage is raised, Peter is very reluctant to discuss it. The tension between the lovers grows as Marian reveals the story of her secret daughter. Almost immediately, Kirby Rose starts changing her life. For eighteen years, Marian was happy to ignore her daughter’s existence, but now she wants to be part of Kirby’s life in some small way. She even comes to terms with Kirby’s desire to meet her biological father, Conrad—someone Marian has resolutely eliminated from her life despite the fact that she is still deeply in love with him.
Kirby Rose, a talented musician, decides to travel to New York City from her home in St. Louis to meet her biological mother. She can’t decide what she wants to do with her life and is having difficulty dealing with her family despite their obvious love and support for her. Meeting Marian proves to be both a thrill and a disappointment for the precocious and headstrong young woman.
“Then I sit back in my seat, wondering when or if I’ll ever see her again. Something tells me I won’t—that this is the way she wants it. That she met her birth daughter, gave her some nice shoes and a plane ticket, and now she can cross that off her list and get on with her life.” (p. 141) When mother and daughter decide to travel to Chicago to meet Conrad, Kirby has a startling revelation which changes her life. Will both Marian and Kirby finally discover “where they belong?”
Readers will definitely enjoy this look into the exciting world of television production represented by Marian and her producer boyfriend. The pressures of ratings and celebrity breakups impact Marian’s successful television show—and even threaten to derail her success. Kirby Rose is fascinated by the high-energy and high-power world of her biological mother. When she compares it to the sedate and quiet life she lives with her adoptive parents and her sister in St. Louis, she finds Marian’s world much more exciting. “Things went downhill my senior year, the chilly standoff with my parents escalating to an outright war.” (p. 33) However, despite that immediate excitement, Marian is a disappointment to Kirby after her first visit.
Emily Giffin became a bestselling author with her novel Something Borrowed (2004), which was made into film starring Kate Hudson and John Krasinski in 2011. Since then, she has written Something Blue (2005), Baby Proof (2006), Love the One You’re With (2008) and Heart of the Matter (2010). Giffin is at her very best when she writes about the emotionally complex lives of struggling female characters. With her sixth novel, Where We Belong, Giffin gives readers an insightful look into the complex world of today’s families, where love, honesty and forgiveness can triumph over conflicts and misunderstandings where, “Life is fast. And it keeps speeding up” (p. 269).