We Are Water

We Are Water by Wally Lamb- 576 pages
Book Blurb:
In middle age, Anna Oh-wife, mother, outsider artist-has shaken her family to its core. After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Anna has fallen in love with Vivica, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success.
Anna and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut, where gay marriage has recently been legalized. But the impending 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 an intricate and layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs-nonconformist Annie; 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 Oh. Set in New England and New York during the first years of the Obama presidency, 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 breathtaking compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience in vivid and unforgettable characters struggling to find hope and redemption in the aftermath of trauma and loss. We Are Water is vintage Wally Lamb-a compulsively readable, generous, and uplifting masterpiece that digs deep into the complexities of the human heart to explore the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.
My Review: 4.5 stars
Honestly, this book is like a tall drink of water when you didn’t even know you were thirsty. NO pun intended about the water. I love Wally Lamb and although this book is lengthy, there isn’t a word that’s wasted. He is the master at character development and links plots and subplots together seamlessly. Flawed characters, some likeable and some horrifically not, find their way into your world like old friends. Water is symbolized all over the place but it never gets old. The ocean, the flood, the rain, the well, the tears all work so well in this book. This book would be a psychologist’s or social worker’s dream to analyze these characters. We are the sum of our parts but this book focuses on how your experience growing up and your parentage affect so many choices we make both consciously and subconsciously. Part mystery, part romance, part family histories, part secrets with a sad helping of atrocious abuse, this book is a real winner. Well done Wally!
Quotes I liked:
- “She gave us one of those pots at the end of our first session-an imperfect one. A piece had broken off and been glued back on. “My point is this,” Suzanne said, passing her finger over the crack. “This is where the pot is strongest now; at the place when it had been broken.”

- “Put your hand out,” I’d tell these students “Now bring it closer. Now closer still.” And were their hands were a half inch from their noses, I’d ask them to describe what they saw. “It’s blurry,” they’d say, and I’d suggest that sometimes the closer we got to a situation, the less clear it looked.
- “My dear, there are no coincidences. That’s just G-d’s way of remaining anonymous.”

- “Earlier that day, when one of my patients told me she felt her new breasts were helping her with her self-esteem issues, I was at a loss about how to respond. I could almost hear a whole generation of feminists sighing in defeat.”

- “As I stand there, watching them disappear down the road, I wonder how much of the adult lives they’re living now, the decisions they’re making, have to do with their home life when they were kids. With their parents- one of them unhinged and the other asleep at the wheel.”

- “One thing I’ve learned in my recovery program is that guilt is a wasted emotion, you know? Look back on the past but don’t stare.”

- “A life I didn’t choose chose me.”
Tags: 2013, Fiction, Family, Sisters/Brothers, Favorites, Art

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