Thursday, November 8, 2012

Where We Belong - Emily Giffin (Audio)

I've read an Emily Giffin book or two in my day.  I can't say that this is my modus operandi, but I remember it was easy reading/listening and didn't require much thinking or problem-solving.  So I wasn't too sad that this book was chosen for the next Books, Babes and Bordeaux Book Club meeting.  

The bonus in this scenario is that Esther from Macmillan Audio sent it to me!  Esther saved the day because there were a million holds on it at the library.  We love Esther!

Synopsis:  Marian Caldwell has got the tiger by the tail.  She is a 36 year-old television producer who lives in a penthouse suite in New York City, and dates a smooth, handsome successful man.  Life is good...that is, until her 18 year-old secret - a daughter she gave up for adoption - shows up on her doorstep.  

Through Marian's eyes, we learn about the passionate love affair the summer before college that resulted in Kirby's conception...the hidden pregnancy, the heart-breaking decisions faced by this scared teenager, and the questionable choices made.  Marian is terrified to unearth all of these ghosts, terrified at what her family, co-workers and boyfriend will think.  

Through Kirby's eyes, we learn about her life with her adoptive family, who have always been loving and supportive.  But Kirby has always felt like she didn't belong, is struggling with what the future holds, and has wondered about her birth parents.  Were they rebellious,  or musical like her?  Why did they decide to give her up?  Even when she does meet Marian, she still feels unwanted.  

As Marian and Kirby attempt to find common ground, their families also try to make peace with this new family structure.  This is a sweet, gentle story about finding your place on this earth, a place where you belong and where you are loved and accepted for who you are.  

My thoughts:  You need to know that I did not have very high expectations of this book, except that it would be a sugary balm for my frantic, twitchy brain.  Giffin's books usually have some conflict, some turmoil or secret that needs resolving, but you know things are gonna work out in the end.  They always do.  

So the book was extremely predictable.  I also felt like it was pretty far out in left field from reality.  I'm fairly certain that the average adopted child does not  seek out their birth parents to find them stunningly attractive, rich, and living in a penthouse in NYC.  Or that everyone in the extended families is thrilled at the prospect of these new family members all in their business.  I wish it were so, but Kirby's circumstances felt more like a fantasy of what every adoptive child would wish for versus what actually happens.  I'm sure dreams like this come true, but it is not the norm.  

All that being said, however, I flew through this book.  It was entertaining and easy and low stress.  If you are sick of serial murderers, the Holocaust, or tragic dysfunctional families, this is exactly what you need.  It just had those moments when you had to smile, and say "There is no way that would really happen, but that is so cool."

A few words about the audio production:  Our narrator for this audio was Orlagh Cassidy, who I've heard before and is literally everywhere in the current fiction audio category.  She has a very pleasant voice, and did an excellent job toggling between the voice of a grown woman and a teenage girl.  

Audiobook length:  11 hours and 1 minute (384 pages)

3 out of 5 stars



Julie P. said...

I pretty much agree with you on this book although I read it instead of listened to it. It was predictable but sometimes that's just what I need!

Rhiannon said...

Love your blog Sandy! I like this type of book in audio version, too. What are some of your favorite audio books?

bermudaonion said...

Sometimes I need predictable like that. This sounds sweet but, to be honest, it doesn't sound like a good book club selection.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

In addition, I hate all these books that have to use gender-ambiguous names!

Unknown said...

I didn't read this one...I really had no desire and had to miss book club anyway. I'm glad you were able to enjoy it.

Meg @ write meg! said...

I read this entire book on a plane ride to California, and I couldn't put it down! Totally agree that parts are far-fetched, but I really enjoyed it -- more than some of Giffin's other novels, actually. And I think I've read them all. It did feel like an adopted child's fantasy come true, but somehow... I don't know. It still worked for me. I was crying by the end!

Zibilee said...

I agree that this is not the stereotypical scenario of the adoptive child, but my brain inhaled this story because there was just so much stress going on over here, and reading this book was akin to eating a big bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese. Literary comfort food at its best. I had a hard time putting it down.

Beth F said...

Sometimes light and predictable and the dream come true is the perfect read. I wonder what you'll discuss at the meeting.

Alyce said...

Yep, sometimes those fluffy happy endings that are fantasies are good for a mental break. :) My mom's birth family is nice, but definitely no penthouses in NYC!

Jenners said...

I don't think anyone expects cold hard reality from this type of book but it is a good balm for the brain.