Book Reviews – Heart of the Matter and Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

As I have mentioned before, Emily Giffin is one of my favorite authors.  So this week I have two more of her books to share with you!  Heart of the Matter and Where We Belong are Ms. Giffin’s fifth and sixth novels.  Like all of her previous books, she takes on tough life situations with an interesting perspective.  I hope my reviews do them justice and you give them a try!

 

Heart of the Matter

I admit I held off on reading Heart of the Matter for well over a year after its release in 2010 despite being an Emily Giffin fan. The synopsis seemed different from her other books, and I read multiple reviews that weren’t as glowing as the ones for her previous four books. However, I’d been hooked on her writing style since I had read Something Borrowed. She has the innate ability to eloquently portray real life circumstances through the actions of her characters. I know many authors (if not most) exhibit the same skill set, but what I’ve found separates Ms. Giffin from the rest is her knack to not necessarily turn the tables of right and wrong or good and bad, but illustrate how good people with no ill intentions can do the wrong thing. Heart of the Matter is no different.

Tessa and Valerie are two mothers living in the Boston area with little in common until one night, an accident intertwines their lives and flips both of their worlds upside down. Unlike her first four books, Heart of the Matter is told in alternating points of view delivering the story of these two women as they are forced to examine their lives, decisions they’ve made, and what is the heart of the matter.

 

Where We Belong

At 36, life is pretty close to perfect for Marian Caldwell.  Her successful career as a television producer and stable, long term relationship has everyone – including herself – convinced life cannot get much better.  However, one fateful night, life changes for Marian when 18 year old Kirby Rose knocks on her door.  Marian and Kirby travel down an emotional road stirring memories – filled with a young love affair and secrets – Marian thought were buried and forgotten long ago.  Together, both women learn about each other, but more importantly, their journey forces Marian and Kirby to look deep inside themselves and learn who they are.

The storyline of this novel is different than the other Giffin novels I read.  However, I wasn’t disappointed; like always, her writing delivered.  In fact, with each of her novels I read, the clearer it becomes what talent she has for capturing tough life-changing decisions and characterizing the dynamics in a wide array of relationships.  As we all know, life is full of tough decisions.  From the outside looking in, it’s always easy to judge what’s right and what’s wrong.  However, Giffin so eloquently flips that perspective.  What is the rationale when we have to make that decision?  The lines between right and wrong are easily blurred, and we’re left to make decisions and live with the consequences.  As Giffin challenges her readers to look beyond the moral boundaries of right and wrong, Kirby challenges Marian to unlock doors from her past so they can both find where they truly belong.

One fun fact about Where We Belong…I received an advanced signed copy from Emily Giffin!

I hope you put both Heart of the Matter and Where We Belong on your reading list!  If you’d like book reviews like this sent directly to you each week, sign-up for my weekly newsletter here!

Book Reviews – Baby Proof and Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

As you can probably guess by now, Emily Giffin is one of my favorite authors.  So this week I have two more of her books to share with you!  Baby Proof  and Love the One You’re With are Ms. Giffin’s third and fourth novels.  Like Something Borrowed and Something Blue, she takes on tough life situations with an interesting perspective.  I hope my reviews do them justice and you give them a try!

Baby Proof

Growing up, most girls dream of becoming a mom one day, but not Claudia.  It was never in her plan. Now, as a successful book editor, she couldn’t be happier to have found her husband Ben, who shares her “no kids for me” philosophy…that is, until his biological clock starts ticking.  She loves Ben, but a baby was never part of Claudia’s life plan so she moves out and ultimately agrees to a divorce.

Claudia begins to live the single life again living with her college roommate and starts a steamy love affair with her colleague, Richard.  However, when she suspects Ben has found a new, young love interest to perhaps bear his children, Claudia begins to doubt her decision.

Like all of Giffin’s novels, Baby Proof tackles tough life decisions, and drives home the point that some decisions don’t have a right and wrong.  “There are trade-offs and sacrifices” in life, and there comes a point when you have to realize nothing is perfect.  We can have the best laid plans for our life, but sometimes, we have to change our plans.

As I said, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book given the subject matter, but like always, Giffin intertwines a few subplots with her strong character development to make Baby Proof a page turner until the very end.

Love the One You’re With

When I hear the phrase “love the one you’re with,” I automatically think settling. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the plot of this book, but once again, Ms. Giffin didn’t disappoint me. In fact, Love the One You’re With is one of my favorite Emily Giffin books!

Not long after her wedding, Ellen has a chance encounter with a past love, Leo, and afterward, she’s left wondering whether her life with her husband Andy is truly what she wants or if it’s what she has decided to settle for. When Ellen and Andy move from New York City to the suburbs of Atlanta for Andy’s career, her internal battle intensifies with resentment. As Ellen’s marriage begins to fall apart, she’s forced to choose between the life she has with Andy and the life she thought she lost long ago with Leo.

What I loved most about this book even more so than the other three books I read by Emily Giffin, was how real it was. Whether or not you’ve been in the same situation as Ellen or not, I think most readers will be able to identify with her internal battle. We all know what’s “right,” but sometimes we can’t help but wonder what if. The what if may not be better and we know that, but yet we still wonder. As Ms. Giffin so poignantly says “it’s simply human nature to have an occasional, fleeting interest in someone whom you once loved.” But is pure human curiosity enough to take a leap of faith?

Love isn’t straightforward. “Things are seldom as neat and tidy as that starry-eyed anecdote” shared with family and friends. Love isn’t a constant fairy tale painted with romance day in and day out; it’s a “choice to commit to something, someone, no matter what the obstacles or temptations stand in the way.” Ms. Giffin illustrates this so well with her innate ability to characterize raw human emotion as she tempts her heroine and poses the age old ethical question: do you stray or do you love the one you’re with?

I hope you enjoy both of these books as much as I did!  Load them on your Kindle and head to the beach or the pool for an afternoon of some great reading!  If you’d like book reviews like this email directly to you each week, sign-up here for my weekly book review newsletter!

Book Review – Something Blue by Emily Giffin

After reading and loving Emily Giffin’s first novel, Something Borrowed, so much, I was anxious to read the sequel, Something Blue, which highlights the flip side. Again, Ms. Giffin didn’t disappoint me. Something Blue is a must read after Something Borrowed.

Darcy Rhone has sailed through life by using her good looks and smooth charm. Rules? She didn’t play by them. And karma? She never worried about it. However, her seemingly perfect life gets flipped up-side-down when she learns her “plain Jane,” good girl best friend, Rachel, has had an affair and fallen in love with her fiancé. To add to her predicament, she finds herself pregnant and alone.

For the first time, Darcy is struck with the harsh reality that her life has become. While she doesn’t fully grasp that her lack of sincerity and 30 years of not playing by the rules has led her to her current situation, Darcy decides to start fresh and flees from her luxurious New York City apartment to London, where she bunks with her childhood friend, Ethan, in his one bedroom flat. When Darcy first arrives in London, she’s still very much the superficial Darcy. However, as her pregnancy progresses, Darcy’s outlook on life, love, and what truly matters transforms as well.

One of the things I love most about Emily Giffin’s writing is her ability to characterize the characters of her books so well in addition to highlighting tough life decisions. I made a similar comment in my review of Something Borrowed, but I think it’s worth repeating. Ms. Giffin makes a subtle case throughout the story that life decisions aren’t always black and white. There is a lot of gray area, and sometimes you just have to live life to realize that truth and learn from it.

 

Something Blue on Amazon

Something Blue was most definitely the other half of Something Borrowed. I was happy to gain more insight into Darcy’s point of view, but more importantly, I enjoyed how Ms. Giffin tied up the loose ends of Rachel and Darcy’s saga. If you haven’t already, place Emily Giffin’s second novel on your summer reading list so you can find out exactly what is Darcy’s “something blue!”

 

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Source for image above is Amazon.

Book Review – Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Despite a lot of positive reviews, I was slightly hesitant to read Emily Giffin’s first novel, Something Borrowed. The whole premise of the book, the main character sleeps with her best friend’s fiancé, isn’t exactly the storyline I usually go for. However, back in the spring of 2011, the movie version was set to be released and I had heard a lot of positive feedback from friends so I decided to take the plunge and read it. I’m so glad I did. Unlike other novels with an affair at its core, Ms. Giffin did a stellar job of turning the tables and made the reader sympathetic to the cheater or at the very least open to her situation.

Meet Rachel and Darcy. They’ve been best friends for years. Rachel is the perpetual good girl, who’s worked hard for everything she has in life, and Darcy, well, she’s that girl you know and sometimes scratch your head in wonder about how everything in her life has always fallen into place. However, on the eve of her 30th birthday, Rachel finds herself in bed with Darcy’s fiancé. While Rachel resigns herself to thinking it was a one-time, drunken mistake, the fling soon becomes a full blown affair. To make matters worse (as if it could), Rachel is not only Darcy’s best friend she is her maid of honor.

As the story follows Rachel, Darcy, and Dex, that’s Darcy’s fiancé, and their friends through the summer, the lines of right and wrong get blurred. As easy as it is to say cheating is wrong, Ms. Giffin makes a subtle but strong case that there are “no moral absolutes.”

When I first read Something Borrowed, I was 29, which was essentially the same age as Rachel and Darcy so I found myself relating to them and laughing alongside of them throughout the entire book. One of my favorite scenes was the night of Darcy’s bachelorette party. Darcy spent the night at Rachel’s apartment because she wanted to relive the days of childhood sleepovers. If you ever had a best friend that was like a sister to you, you’ll relate and feel the bond between Rachel and Darcy. They truly have a history filled with good memories, and that’s what makes Rachel’s situation all the more difficult and intriguing.

The focal point of the novel is a heavy one, but the story itself is another segment of growing up. We grow up learning right from wrong, but the truth of the matter is life isn’t black and white. Sometimes it takes us until we’re 29 going on 30 to fully learn the lesson and realize that there are always tough decisions to make. And of course when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes, we learn that a man should never be something borrowed.

Something Borrowed on Amazon

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