We Are Water

We Are Water

A Novel

Book - 2013
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baranouta
Apr 25, 2018

I don't normally write reviews, but I feel the need to bring this up to any potential readers. "Anna Oh, a middle-age wife, mother and artist, divorces her husband after 27 years of marriage to marry Vivica, the Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success." Okay, technically this is true, but that's not really what the book is about... at all. With that description, I expected the book to be a love story between Anna and Vivica. The back of the book's description is a little more telling, warning that it will involve the "toxic secrets" of the Oh family, which could mean about a million different things... and in this book, it probably means every single "toxic secret" you could possibly imagine. I stopped reading after an entire chapter dedicated to graphic description of child sexual abuse.

The characters do horrible things, like physically and emotionally abuse their children, or a therapist sexually taking advantage of their client, suffer no real repercussions beyond a scolding (if even), and feel sorry for themselves for receiving even that. Maybe my perspective on it would be different if I were given a summary more like "Wally Lamb explores some of the darkest sides of humanity and how 'monsters' are created" instead of leading me to believe that it was going to actually be about a lesbian romance. We get entire chapters dedicated to the formation of Annie's relationship with her ex-husband, but even as I left off in the last third or so of the book, I have very little idea about Annie's relationship with Vivica, who has appeared for about 3 sentences.

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markd
May 04, 2017

Good story. Believable characters and stuff they wrestle with. Had trouble putting it down - for me the sign of a good story.

s
slarsen
Sep 15, 2014

Yes, I recommend this book - Lamb is an excellent storyteller.

jamilad Jul 18, 2014

Overall really enjoyed it and couldn‘t put it down, though I did find the end almost too much of a wrap-up...

mayfairlady May 11, 2014

Wonderful storytelling.

a
afrances
Apr 30, 2014

Very interesting read. Typical Wally Lamb- at times disturbing- but all around good!

ChristyH Apr 24, 2014

I could not put this book down. The story really drew me in and I enjoyed reading the story from the perspectives of each character.

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CecileSune
Apr 09, 2014

We Are Water by Wally Lamb is the story of Annie Oh and her family. When she was young, she had a tough childhood: her mother and sister died in a flood, she was a victim of abuse in her own home, and she was in foster care for several years. In fact, she kept many secrets from her husband and children, but her art helped her deal with the painful memories. However, after 27 years of marriage, she has left her husband, Orion. Now, she is about to marry Viveca, an art dealer who gave her her break as an artist. As Orion and their 3 grown children try to come to terms with the separation and the upcoming gay wedding, we learn more about her past and about Josephus Jones, the black artist who used to live in the shack in their backyard before the Oh family bought the property.

The narrative is mostly told from the point of view of each family member: Annie, Orion, their children and Kent, Annie’s cousin. This allows us to be more intimate with the characters and the story. In fact, when Kent is the narrator, we even feel sorry for him, despite his awful actions. This sentiment attests Wally Lamb’s success and skill at writing with different voices. The book also tackles many important and controversial subjects: race, class and abuse. In addition, the link between creativity and madness is very interesting. However, I thought the story was a little bit slow to start and maybe a tad too long, but I’m glad I kept at it because it was definitively worth it.

Please go to my blog, Cecile Sune - Bookobsessed, if you would like to read more reviews or discover fun facts about books and authors.

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lpodell
Mar 29, 2014

Good characters, good story. Interesting treatment of trauma and mental health in families. Parts rang very true

kelleypoole Mar 03, 2014

Be prepared for the dark parts, as most of Lamb's novels have. It was a good read until the final portion which I found to be trite. It seemed that the author was to interested in getting things all finished. so the final three years are covered in a summative piece. Odd and left me unsatisfied with an otherwise interesting read.

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Lanny213
Feb 18, 2014

Well written. Good story. Lots of tragedy for one family though although by the end of the book, all is well (sort of). Would recommend.

j
JWRenkema
Jan 21, 2014

one of the best books if have read for awhile. i was unable to put it down. definitely a recommend.

madison382 Jan 20, 2014

Another good book by Wally Lamb. Could not put it down.

Jane60201 Jan 09, 2014

A tedious soap opera of a story. Would not recommend it.

IClare Jan 09, 2014

I really enjoyed this book! The character of little Annie Oh at age five, in the kitchen telling her cousin Kent that she has "zema" and asking him if he wants to put the cream on the way "Mommy does" is heartbreaking and will stay with me. She's not even a real person and I worry about that five year old girl being left alone to care for herself, and even worse, be cared for by a pedophile uncle. And I think about how scared she must have been, first losing her mother, and then being abandoned by her father, who could have and should have mustered up what little strength was left in him, to care for his little daughter. After all she was still alive and needed him. There are very few characters that have stayed with me after I finish the book, but when they do, I know it's a special book and a great author. And when they do stay with me, I always find myself wanting to go back and read the book again to somehow save the character, even though I know that's not possible. If I only I could save little five year old Annie Oh. Thanks Wally Lamb! Great writing, really good book, and I would definitely recommend reading this book.

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llccghw
Nov 23, 2013

Wally Lamb does it again with another great read!
Couldn't put it down and hated for it to end!
Highly recommend!

j
jtkretzschmar
Nov 07, 2013

This is it. This is the best book of 2013. Wally Lamb is one of my three favorite authors (along with John Irving and Ann Macdonald)and this in my opinion is the best book he has ever written. I can not believe how amazing this book was. I found myself living and feeling every emotion of every character in this novel. I actually had to slow down reading it just so I could get to experience it longer. Unbelievable.

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becker
Sep 06, 2013

There is an awful lot of story going on between the covers of this book. This story is a well fit puzzle of subplots that feature the main characters at different stages of their lives. These individual stories all contribute heavily to the progression of the main plot. It is rare in a book with so many sub stories that you care equally for all the characters and their story lines. Usually you are more drawn to some over others. However I have to say that I was very interested in what was happening to all these different characters and how their complicated lives were going to play out. No doubt this book will be well read.


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