Incidentally, I found this novel particularly interesting, as there are TONS of references for which I have personal connections. For example, one of the main characters (Kirby) grows up in my hometown of St. Louis, on Eichelberger Street, where my grandparents/parents used to own a rental property. It is clear Giffin did her thorough research for this novel. Her culture descriptions of the St. Louis locations, neighborhoods, high schools, even ice cream shops (Ted Drews), and other references are very authentic!
Additionally, the other main character (Marian) grows up going to football games, and is destined to attend University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (my husband's alma mater, and therefore the destination for various fall football weekends of our own). Coincidentally, my St. Louis high school field hockey team (Villa Duchesne) traveled to Chicago to play against New Trier High School, which happens to be the alma mater of main character Marian, and setting for a return visit in the novel. Finally, when Marian and Kirby go to Lincoln Park to meet Conrad, his apartment is located on Armitage, the same street I lived on in Chicago after college....It was as if someone I grew up with could have written this novel! Naturally, it was fun to read with so many familiar references.
In terms of her story lines and plot material, they are always incredibly familiar, down to earth, and real. When I read her novels, and imagine myself in the situations, scenarios, and relationships that she develops, her thought process mirrors exactly what I would be thinking! Although her work has perhaps been included in the "chick lit" or young adult category, her perspective, writing, and insight are more brilliant and layered than the typically shallow, predictable, and cliched themes found in your average chick lit/beach-read.
|Author Emily Giffin with her latest work, Where We Belong|
Some critical praise of her novels: