“Where We Belong” is a heartwarming novel about people finding their true paths in life. Marian Caldwell, 36, lives in New York City and is a producer for a popular TV show. She has a dream job and a handsome, wealthy boyfriend of two years, Peter Standish. Peter, however, is still married, but hasn’t lived with his wife for two years and is in the process of divorcing her.
Marian would like to get married when Peter is single again, but Peter is hedging. He also works in the television industry. Marian’s whole world changes when a teenage girl knocks on her door and says, “My name is Kirby Rose. I think you are my mother.”
Kirby was adopted and grew up in St. Louis, where she lived with her adoptive parents. Her adoptive father, Art, is an electrician, and her mother, Lynn, is an administrative assistant in a law firm. They tried for 10 years to have children. Shortly after they adopted Kirby, Lynn became pregnant with Kirby’s younger sister, Charlotte.
Kirby goes to a Catholic prep school in St. Louis. She really doesn’t fit in with the other students; she is less into the prep style of Urban Outfitters than they are and has broader tastes in music than most of her classmates. She also plays the drums in a band, writes songs and sings.
Kirby doesn’t have a date for the homecoming dance, but her younger sister has been nominated for homecoming court and is dating one of the most popular boys at school. Kirby did well on the SAT test, but her grades don’t reflect her academic potential. Kirby isn’t sure she wants to go to college. That, plus her messy room, the volume of her music and teenage rebellion, puts her in constant conflict with her parents.
When Kirby turns 18, she calls the adoption agency to find out the name of her birthmother. She gets Marian’s name and address. Kirby sketches out a plan with her friend Belinda.
She tells her mother she is going on a four-day trip with Belinda and Belinda’s mom to Alabama, but in reality, she takes the bus to New York to meet Marian.
At Marian’s insistence, Kirby phones her adoptive parents and lets them know where she is. Marian takes Kirby sightseeing and buys her expensive clothes, but what Kirby really wants is to get closer to Marian and find out about her birth father.
Marian is having trouble coming to grips with meeting her daughter. When she became pregnant after graduating from a Chicago high school, Marian didn’t tell anyone except her mother. Not even Kirby’s father knew Marian was pregnant. When Marian went away and delivered Kirby, friends and neighbors just thought she went off to work a semester before college. Marian now has to tell the people in her life what happened 18 years ago.
After Kirby goes back home, she and Marian keep in touch. Marian decides to meet Kirby’s adoptive parents and plans to take Kirby to meet her birthfather, Conrad, who still lives in Chicago.
Marian’s new relationship with Kirby makes her question whether she is really happy in her fast-paced life or whether after all these years there might still be a spark between her and Conrad?
You will have to read the story to see how it turns out. “Where We Belong” is uplifting and well written, and offers alternating narratives by Kirby and Marian.
Emily Giffin worked as a lawyer for several years before moving to London to write full-time. She was written five bestsellers, including “Something Borrowed and Something Blue.”