Friday, December 28, 2012

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

     This book started out well. A sweet teenaged romance develops between Marian and Conrad. It is a lovely fling during the summer after high school graduation. No one expects it to last, and both kids realize what a special time it is.

          Until Marian comes up pregnant.

          Suddenly it's not so idyllic any more. All Marian's plans for college and career are in jeopardy. She chooses to tell no one except her mother -not her father or her best friend, not even Conrad. One morning after a particularly intense bout of morning sickness, she decides she wants to end the pregnancy. Her mother makes the appointment, and takes her to the clinic. Marian makes it all the way to the table before realizing this is not the answer for her. She walks away determined to have this baby. She soon realizes, however, that while bearing this child is the right answer for her, raising it is not. She makes the decision to give the baby up for adoption.

          I thought at this point Giffin was going to lose me. I had no desire to read about the angst involved with giving up a child. Fortunately for me the story skipped ahead eighteen years at this point.

          Another teenage girl is approaching her high school graduation. Kirby Rose has always known she was adopted. She has listened to her parents tell the story time and again. While she has never had a burning desire to know about her birth parents, as her eighteenth birthday approaches, her curiosity gets the better of her. At eighteen she may, per the adoption agreement, have the contact info for her birth mother. Kirby gets the information from the agency and develops a plan to meet her birth mother. She takes a Greyhound bus from St Louis to New York City, walks up to the woman’s door and knocks.

          Marian opens the door to a perfect stranger with hauntingly familiar eyes.

          Kirby and Marian spend an uncomfortably thrilling weekend together. But Kirby's enthusiasm for her birth mother is tempered by the revelation that Marian never told Conrad about the baby.

          Armed with a small amount of information about Conrad, Kirby returns to St Louis determined to track him down. Her efforts are unsuccessful, however. Marian has better luck. When she and Kirby speak next, Marian announces she has found an address for Conrad. The two women plan a trip to Chicago together to tell him about Kirby.

          Talk about an uncomfortable conversation!

          Conrad is none too pleased about having been kept in the dark about the pregnancy and is obviously angry with Marian. Kirby on the other hand, seems to delight him. They have a great deal in common, primarily that they are both musicians.

          Kirby returns to St Louis happy to have started relationships with both her biological parents.   Her family supports her in this and graciously invites both of them to Kirby's graduation. Both attend, and join the family for lunch after the ceremony. As the evening approaches, Conrad offers to drop Marian at her hotel on his way out of town. They part intending to keep in touch.

          I've got to admit I was a little disappointed in the ending. Everything seemed to be leading up to Marian and Conrad falling in love all over again. But, while the possibility certainly existed, it was left an open question. I found this unsatisfactory - realistic, but unsatisfactory.

          This book had potential all over the place. I wanted it to be great, and at several points thought it was going to be. But the greatness never came to be.

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