We Are Water

We Are Water

3.8 195
by Wally Lamb
     
 

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We Are Water is a disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much Is True.

After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh—wife, mother,

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Overview

We Are Water is a disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much Is True.

After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh—wife, mother, outsider artist—has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets—dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives.

We Are Water is a layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs—nonconformist, Anna; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

With humor and compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience and the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/04/2013
Set mostly in Connecticut, Lamb's (She's Come Undone) fifth novel takes on race, class, sexuality, and art, sometimes clumsily, yet the complex plot is captivating. On the brink of her second marriage, artist Annie Oh fis plagued by "lifestyle guilt." After a tormented childhood—a flood that killed her mother and sister; a stint in foster care; abuse at the hands of her cousin—Annie leaves her husband, Dr. Orion Oh, for a woman: art dealer Viveca Christophoulos-Shabbas. The Ohs' three children—all grown—accept their mother's decision, though Andrew is more reluctant than his sisters, Marissa and Ariane. Lamb seems eager to include many permutations of American identity: Orion is Chinese-Italian, Viveca is Greek–and previously married to an Arab man to boot. A section narrated by a Ku Klux Klansman's widow is unconvincing, torn between racism and apology. However Lamb excels at delivering unexpected blows to his characters, ratcheting up the suspense to the final page. Agent: Kassie Evashevski,United Talent Agency. (Nov.)
Library Journal
★ 09/15/2013
We are water: "fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too." That's evident in this emotionally involving new novel from the author of She's Come Undone. At its heart is the Oh family: Orion, half Chinese and half Italian, a psychologist who never knew his father and has taken early retirement from his university rather than face trumped-up charges of sexual harassment; his wife, Annie, a shy, successful creator of angry installation art who survived foster care and carries a dark secret; and their three children: willful aspiring actress Marissa and the twins, goodhearted Ariane and born-again rebel Andrew. As the novel opens, Annie has thrown everyone into turmoil by leaving Orion for her chic, sophisticated art dealer, Viveca, and even as the new couple plan a wedding in the Ohs' hometown, Three Rivers, CT, past and present hurts unfold in chapters told deftly from alternate viewpoints. Annie's self-doubts are particularly affecting, as is the satisfyingly predictable unfolding of her secret; Orion gracefully comes to terms with his limitations and his future. Meanwhile, Viveca's interest in a painting found on the Oh property links to the story of a black artist that intriguingly frames the novel. VERDICT Clear and sweetly flowing; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 5/13/13.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-03
A searching novel of contemporary manners--and long-buried secrets--by seasoned storyteller Lamb (Wishin' and Hopin', 2009, etc.). Lamb's latest opens almost as a police procedural, its point of view that of one Gualtiero Agnello (hint: agnello means "lamb" in Italian), rife with racial and sexual overtones. Fast-forward five decades, and it's a different world, the POV now taken by an artist named Annie Oh, sharp-eyed and smart, who is attending to details of her upcoming nuptials to her partner and agent, Viveca, who has chosen a wedding dress with a name, Gaia. Notes Annie, reflecting on the Greek myth underlying the name, "[c]haos, incest, monsters, warring siblings: it's a strange name for a wedding dress." That thought foreshadows much of Lamb's theme, which inhabits the still-waters-run-deep school of narrative: Annie has attained some renown, is apparently adjusted to divorce from her husband, a clinical psychologist named Orion (Greek myth again, though he's Chinese) Oh, and is apparently bound for a later life of happiness. Ah, but then reality intrudes in various forms, from Viveca's request for a prenup to the long-suppressed past, in which natural disaster meets familial dysfunction. The story is elaborate and unpredictable, and the use of multiple narrators is wise, considering that there are a few Rashomon moments in this leisurely unfolding narrative. The characters are at once sympathetic and flawed and mostly, by the end, self-aware (Orion on Annie: "I'd just let her float away. But at the time, I couldn't admit that. It was easier to think of myself as Viveca's victim than to cop to my own culpability"). We all know that life is tangled and messy. Still, in reminding readers of this fact, Lamb turns in a satisfyingly grown-up story, elegantly written.
Real Simple
“Through alternating perspectives this addicting novel reveals how secrets can define a person and wreak havoc on her loved ones.”
Out.com
“Wally Lamb’s latest, WE ARE WATER, works the same magic as his 1992 Oprah-anointed breakthrough, She’s Come Undone, capturing a snapshot of modern life (class struggle, racial violence) through the lens of a family faced with jarring news from its matriarchal figure.”
Entertainment Weekly
“…this family saga is hard to put down.”
USA Today
“It’s a sign of a good novel when the reader slowly savors the final chapters, both eager to discover the ending and dreading saying goodbye to the characters. We Are Water is a book worth diving into.”
Miami Herald
“Wally Lamb’s fifth work of fiction…is a mesmerizing novel about a family in crisis that pulls together many characters and diverse themes and sets the bulk of its action against our collective modern angst and ambivalence.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“In his singularly perceptive voice, Lamb immerses his characters and the novel’s readers in powerful moments of hope and redemption and shocking descriptions of violence and abuse… fascinating.”
Ms. Magazine
“Alternating voices of the wife, husband and their three children pain a vivid portrait of a marriage and reveal the shifting meaning of family.”
People.com
“So far my favorite scene involves the throwing of multiple glasses of Bordeaux at three Vera Wang wedding dresses. At least you know you won’t be bored
The Advocate
“Wally Lamb delivers a powerful and engaging novel filled with complexities and intricacies of human nature and family dysfunction. . . this is a book not to be missed.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061941023
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/22/2013
Pages:
576
Sales rank:
573,824
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

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