Read We Are Water by Wally Lamb Online


In middle age, Annie Oh—wife, mother, and outsider artist—has shaken her family to its core. After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Annie has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success.Annie and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut, wherIn middle age, Annie Oh—wife, mother, and outsider artist—has shaken her family to its core. After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Annie has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success.Annie and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers, 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....

Title : We Are Water
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061941023
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 561 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

We Are Water Reviews

  • Kimberly Smith
    2019-02-27 20:00

    I am struggling writing this review. In the past I have LOVED Wally Lamb's books so much, that I was just so excited to hear that he had a new book coming out. Then, reading the dust jacket, the hairs on my arms stood up. The book would be about a woman after 27 years of marriage, who leaves her family to marry her art dealer, a woman. I was so excited to read THAT story and about her family adjusting to their mother coming out as a lesbian in her 50's??? Knowing Wally Lamb and the way he writes women so well, I couldn't WAIT to get into this woman's head and hear her story. I wanted to hear WHY. I wanted to hear if she was running away from something, or whether she was running TOWARD something, or whether it was about her finally just being true to herself. I was also excited to hear how her family would deal with this, and how they would assimilate this new information about their mother and what the family dynamics would be. I couldn't wait! I put it on hold at the library, and the weirdest thing happened that's never happened to me before. A warning popped up on the screen, warning me that if I placed this book on hold, it would be held in a PUBLIC part of the library, where anyone could see my name on the book. Now, I live in Salt Lake City area, so I rolled my eyes to myself and just chalked it up to the fact that I live in a predominantly religious area that tends to be overly zealous in some ways. Surely there are a lot of books that now have gay or lesbian characters in them! If a tenth of the population is LGBT, that's a pretty BIG minority, and most people will have to admit that someone they know or love is gay. So why a warning on this book???Finally it came in, and I nearly danced home from the library to devour it with pleasure... but I never found much pleasure here, sadly. It's not at all what the book jacket promised. I mean, what's there is all true, but that's not what the book is about. At. All. At 550+ pages, it's a sprawling generational epic story (which reminded me a little of Pat Conroy's meandering generational novels) that start each chapter with the person's name who we'll be in the stream-of-consciousness mind of, a la William Falkner's "As I Lay Dying")that covers just about everything but the kitchen sink. Or maybe the kitchen sink is in there too! There's child neglect, physical abuse, alcoholism, pedophilia, child abuse, incest, racism, the Ku Klux Klan, murder (multiple violent murders) crime, drugs, workplace scandal, prostitution turned violently wrong, tragedy during natural disasters, theft, ghosts, debilitating physical injury, fundamental Christian nonsense, guilt, shame, and hidden secrets that end up affecting generations, and lots more, believe it or not! The lesbian wedding is just the time when part of this story takes place. It's really not what the book is about at all. In fact we never do understand why Annie has left her husband, or why she wants to align her life with Viveca's. I don't even believe their love! In fact, until close to the end of the book I don't even think there's anything redeeming about Viveca at all. Annie defies her behind her back and sometimes even tries to undermine her in some ways with the maid and seems disloyal. Where's the happiness, the love between them, the passion that should be there for a couple planning their wedding and upcoming honeymoon? We never see that side of things. The only love story we do hear about is Annie's with her ex-husband, and that IS believable for a woman looking to escape a horrible youth and time in the foster system. In a small way, he kind of saves her, and helps her elevate her life at that point. To say that the characters are flawed is a bit of an understatement. I just couldn't care much about any of them. I had a little more compassion for Annie once you learn the back story of her youth and everything she's been through... all the secrets that she's kept stuffed down that seep out in anger: Inappropriate anger at her son, anger cathartically released through her art. But this is really a book full of screwed up, unlikeable people. At one point, someone asked me "Are you enjoying your book? What's it about?" And I bitterly responded, "It's a book about horrible people who do horrible, awful things to each other and make a mess of their lives!" I feel like Wally Lamb tried to cram too much crime and ugliness into one novel! There were times I thought to myself, "This is where we're going?" And I would shake my head annoyed, and sometimes in disgust. A very large portion of the book puts you in the mind of a pedophile. I think the author may have been trying to illustrate that pedophiles and abusers were once little kids who are the way they are because of abuse THEY once endured. Ok, point taken. But it's still creepy as hell reading about how they stalk and seduce vulnerable working mothers to get into the perfect situation of trust to ultimately seduce the little girls while mommy's away at work. The whole thing was so nauseating to read about in detail, how they lure them in, violate their trust, bribe them, and then molest them. It was so disturbing. And there are graphic details. Perhaps THAT was the reason for the warning at the library. Or maybe it's the graphic violence later. Maybe all of it. I don't know. I don't think I can recommend this book to ANYONE, unless you want to try to understand how someone can become a pedophile. I could say a lot more about this book, but maybe I'll just end with this: I am a huge proponent of personal responsibility. I know that bad things happen in the world. But I also know that we all have a choice with how we react to those bad things. Milton wrote "Two men sat behind prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars." I think life is exactly what we create it to be, and how we react when we're knocked down, is what ultimately defines us. I am all about creating a beautiful life for myself and my loved ones and honoring those relationships and living well, rather than being a victim that wallows in misery and lets abuse continue to affect future generations. That's ultimately what I wanted for these people, but alas, there's not enough resolution to know.

  • Denise
    2019-03-04 19:19

    I practically celebrate every time Wally Lamb publishes a new novel. I love his work so much, and he only improves with age. Nobody can take a basic story and so circuitously and beautifully lead the reader to a satisfactory conclusion as Lamb does. Few writers put human behavior and feelings into words as sensitively (and sometimes humorously) as Lamb. Few writers can address divorce, sexual abuse, incest, child abuse, gay marriage and religion all in one book and make it work. And few writers can make me wish their book would never end.We Are Water methodically takes us through the failure of a marriage and fractures of a family that are caused, primarily, by the dark secrets of artist Annie Oh, wife of Dr. Orion Oh. Annie's secrets begin on the night of a horrendous flood that tragically causes the deaths of her mother and baby sister when Annie is five-years old. The events of this flood and the aftermath are the foundation of the story and Annie's later relationships. But the book is so much more....breathtaking until the end, actually. This is undoubtedly the best novel I have read in 2013. Updated to add that I met him tonight at a book signing (11-4-13), and he is just as awesome in person as I imagined he would be.

  • Barb
    2019-03-01 18:15

    I loved Wally Lamb's 'I Know This Much Is True', it's one of my all-time favorite books. So, it's hard for Lamb to compete with my love for that book. 'We Are Water' is similar to IKTMIT in that it's very easy to read. The characters are likeable and their stories are interesting enough that you want to find out what happens to them. There would certainly be a lot to discuss if you were going to choose this as a book club book. Honestly, this might be one of those books that you like more after the group discussion than you did before it. I'm not going to give you a rehash of the story, you can get that from the blurb. I will tell you I liked the way Lamb showed us the history that affected the characters. And how far we are from so much of that flawed thinking from the past. There were little connections and similarities throughout the book that I wasn't sure what to make of, there are some twins, some Italian heritage and some strange motherly advice about men which surprised me. Two different female characters recall getting their first period and the cautionary advice they received from their mothers. One mother's advice was frightening and completely racist, the other mother's advice was ambiguous and confusing to the daughter but the reader knows the character's past and in that context the advice makes sense. There seemed to be everything but the kitchen sink thrown into this story, which was at least one too many ingredients. There was also a lack of focus and refinement that was disappointing. Some dialogue at the end of the book felt unnecessary, neither serving to move the story forward or reveal more about the characters or their conflicts. Lamb writes two major conflicts into this story. One major crisis would have served the story better, two conflicts divided its focus and diluted the impact of both issues. I also didn't care for the "wrap it up" ending to the book where we are taken from Part 4 which ends with two major conflicts happening simultaneously to Part 5 which opens three years into the future where the immediacy of the events has past and we only see the aftermath.I wish the book jacket blurb described the story differently, while the description is accurate to the story, it also lays the story out as if it's very linear and maybe even suspenseful, which I don't think it is at all. This was an easy and enjoyable read with likeable characters. In fact I really loved Orion Oh, the central character in the story. I enjoyed this while I was reading it but I know the story won't stay with me like 'I Know This Much Is True' has. I guess I expected to be blown away because this is Wally Lamb. My expectations might have been unrealistic, it's hard to top an all-time favorite.I would guess that most readers will like this book. If there is a book group out there willing to read a 560 page book this will certainly offer a lot for group discussion.

  • Ron Charles
    2019-02-24 13:15

    Gay Americans have been waiting a long time for the right to marry. But we all wait a long time in Wally Lamb’s dilatory new novel about a lesbian wedding. Before anybody is allowed to say, “I do,” in “We Are Water,” a whole family of injured people must walk down the aisle muttering their sorrows.Emotional and physical wounds have long been Lamb’s territory, explored in the Oprah-blessed blockbusters “She’s Come Undone” and “I Know This Much Is True” and his wrenching novel about the Columbine shooting, “The Hour I First Believed.” But despite its vast registry of topical troubles, “We Are Water” still feels like something borrowed, something blue.The story comes to us as a series of soliloquies delivered — chapter by chapter — by the distressed members of the Oh family. The patriarch is Orion Oh, an affable psychologist descended from a Chinese grandfather with “inscrutable eyes.” Orion has endured a rough year: He’s been forced into early retirement by a sexual harassment claim, and his wife has left him for a woman. Unsettled by these developments, he decides to get away and collect his thoughts. It’s to be a “summer’s worth of drifting and wound licking,” he says. “Figure out how to shed my bitterness, forgive myself and others and start over. Orchestrate a reinvention.”So he’s driving to Cape Cod to spend a month in a vacation home owned by his ex-wife’s bride-to-be. This may seem like an odd or even an inscrutable setting in which to recover from the shock of your wife’s lesbianism, but it’s not the novel’s most contrived coincidence. As Orion recollects the start and dissolution of his 27-year marriage, we periodically break away to hear from his ex-wife, Annie. She’s an artist whose trash-collages emerge from “the blast furnace of her pent-up rage.” She’s angry because she was sexually abused as a child and because her husband never helped out around the house. On the plus side, that animus has inspired her to create pieces that attract critical praise and lucrative sales: One of her most famous sculptures, “Birthings,” shows a “row of headless mannequins, their bloody legs spread wide, their wombs expelling serial killers. Speck. Bundy. Gacy. Monsters all.” But beneath that fame and success is a woman confused about her violent behavior as a mother and her upcoming marriage to a female gallery owner. “I kind of thought I might be a lesbian,” Annie tells us. “Which, maybe I am. But maybe not. Maybe I’m . . . what do they call it? AC/DC?”Maybe.Eventually, we hear soliloquies from the Ohs’ three unhappy adult children, a couple of neighbors and even Annie’s old sexual abuser. Together they present an exhaustive inventory of woe: teenage pregnancy, miscarriage, prostitution, racism, paraplegia, divorce, abandonment, homophobia, lynching, alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse, depression, panic attacks, drowning, robbery, assault, murder, Charlie Sheen.When one of the characters on the beach asks, “He’s hurt? Was it those sharks?” the list of perils finally seems complete. There’s even an African American ghost lurking around in the Ohs’ backyard — the spectral residue of one too many tragedies haunting this tragedy-packed novel.The problem with “We Are Water,” though, isn’t an excess of trauma, it’s a dearth of immediacy and subtlety. The present-day action of the novel is overwhelmed by recollections. Some of these memories are genuinely thrilling. There’s a deadly flood scene, for instance, that roars right off the page. But most of the novel is burdened with inconsequential detail — usually conveyed by banal voices that are too knowing and irony-free. Every one of these characters is subjected to the pop-psych maxim that “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” And so, out all their secrets must come, every phobia, weakness and self-destructive habit traced back with a black magic marker to a rape or a punch or a lie.But do you want to know the most distracting verbal tic all these characters share? Would you believe that they all sprinkle their monologues with rhetorical questions? Does it make all the voices in his novel sound alike? Is it a particularly awkward way to provoke exposition?Sometimes, one of these anxious people raises a truly provocative question, but usually they try to stump us with questions such as: “Whose parents are perfect? Who’s not carrying around baggage from childhood?” Or this head-scratcher: “I get up, start the vacuum. The front foyer sure needs it; it’s picking up a ton of sand. Then why am I stopping? Turning the damn thing off and yanking the plug?”I don’t know!Lamb is always a writer of deep compassion, and there’s never any doubt about his conviction that healing is possible. But that inspiring message gets thinly diluted in “We Are Water.”

  • Elyse
    2019-03-18 14:01

    Update: This is a $2.99 Kindle special today. I 'still' think about this novel --and remember fine details. It was one of those books (kinda like "Setting the Kites of Fire" was for me the other day) --that was such an emotional read for me --a book that touched a 'range' of emotions -that my body wasn't really ready to 'write' a full review. This book changed my outlook on things --Its heavy and its long -- It deals with abuse -paedophilia --and 'many' life issues to look at deeply -from all sides - look inside ourselves while following the characters story -at the same time.I know it got mixed reviews when it came out -- but IMO -- It was a very ambitious novel to write. Wally Lamb did an outstanding job. If you are a mother --who ever even once screamed at your child --there is value in this book IMO.I'd almost read it again myself now --if I didn't have so many other books on my plate waiting my attention. .........older review is below: Wow! Wow! Wow! Note: If any of my local book club friends are reading ---This novel would be a GREAT PICK for our group!*Cathrine* already wrote a BEAUTIFUL review of this GEM -of a novel ---I, too, have a 'quote' to add: (This quote will not spoil the story)"But then I read an article in 'TIMES', YOUR-BRAIN-ON-FICTION, and what a gift. The article talked about studies that examined how the language of fiction -metaphors, sensory details, emotional fireworks between characters -activates different parts of the readers brain. The olfactory cortex and motor cortex were being stimulated in the same way as if these subjects were experiencing the real deal: smelling, feeling, textures, running away from the bad guys."The above quote pretty much sums up the spaces I went through in reading Larry Lamb's gift. (He's got to be one of the world's best storytellers)!!! This book has EVERYTHING in it!!!!!

  • Beverly
    2019-03-16 16:04

    I almost liked this book. I believe that sincere effort to do good went into its making. But basically this amounts to a psychiatric case study of childhood trauma and how it affects later life. It seems to be dripping with archetypal symbols as well: sharks, Greek myth, the ocean, absent fathers,twins, and more. Ostensibly the story of an artist who leaves her husband for another woman, Anna Oh does not emerge as the hero or even protagonist of this story. I think her lesbianism is a hook; Anna is never well fleshed out as a character, but reamains only a plot device. The real hero is Orion Oh, the forsaken husband who is- quel suprise-a shrink. A secondary hero is his son Andrew, also a victim and alsoa shrink, but who grows and develops as a character. There is also some cardboard politicial correctness here as well side by side with anti-racist and anti-homophobic cant that incidentialy lambasts Texas and evangelical religion in a stereotypical fashion. And why is the only black character in the book the only one to speak in dialect, I ax you? I think rather than doing good, Lamb is trying to make his readers feel good. Lamb's previous novels are much better than this one.

  • B the BookAddict
    2019-03-20 18:06

    Full of empathy and pathos, this novel encompasses memorable characters, their very vivid experiences and endeavours to overcome abuse, loss and anguish. It would seem that in We Are Water, there is a bit of everything: divorce, child abuse, homophobia, racism, art, paedophilia, psychology, lesbianism, religion, gay marriage and alcohol abuse. A big ask for an author to successfully weave all these issues into one novel but Lamb does this mostly successfully in his usual Wally Lamb manner. The story is probably a lesson on if you sit on your dim, dark secrets most of your life, they will most surely pop out one day and bite you on the bum. You'll be a better person afterwards but if you'd opened the Pandora's Box earlier, your life would have been so much easier. Because so many have already abridged the story, here is from the book blurb: 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.The very much put-upon and incredibly tolerant ex-husband is a marvel; not many men would continue to have anything to do with the woman who has left him for her lesbian lover. I found the chapter narrated by the paedophile very difficult to read; if I'd been able to shut my eyes and still read it, I would have. My foremost thought on finishing this book is this: Although we are all products of our upbringing and our past, there is a point where we have to step up and take responsibility for ourselves and our actions rather than blame the aforementioned. Lamb's writing is fluid, vivid and compelling while at the same time controlled and measured. The reader will be drawn along rather than hurried. Even considering the abhorrent issues of racism, child abuse and paedophilia covered here, We Are Water has not haunted me as did his earlier I Know This Much Is True; indeed, IKTMIT may be the standard by which Lamb is measured always. But overall, it is a good meaty, house-brick sized novel which cannot fail to strike a chord with all readers. It packs a wallop but strangely did not totally knock my socks off. 4★

  • Natalie
    2019-03-25 12:16

    Well. I guess I can't put this review off any longer. First things first. I love Wally Lamb.That's right - LOVE HIM. You know when that really exciting moment comes when a friend who for some ungodly pathetically stupid reason doesn't really read ever asks you for recommendations? And then you can barely contain yourself and rattle off about ten titles in two seconds and get this from them?:And then you're all like: Well, anyway...when these wonderful gem moments come along, I always say these two books first: She's Come UndoneI Know This Much Is TrueAlways. I read these books after my sister recommended them to me years ago. Years ago when she worshiped Oprah from the couch, and I made fun of her every chance I got.Huh. Oprah sort of lead me to Wally Lamb. I'll give credit where credit is due. Imagine my delight in seeing a new 576 page (because with Mr. Lamb, the longer the book the better) book. After reading both She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True many times, I have come to put Wally Lamb on a pedestal. Uhhh, not quite what I was looking for, Google. But close enough.To recap in case I have lost you already: I have Wally Lamb on a pedestal because I loved those two books so much that I will gush about them to anyone who will listen or who dares to ask me for book recommendations. Expectations were high. My palms were sweating in anticipation as I flipped it open (a sincere apology to my local library for the "water" marks). I had all electronics off and complete silence, so I could lose myself in 576 blissful pages. Letter to Mr. LambDear Wally, I regret to inform you that I do not feel like this book lived up to my expectations.Sincerely and still-ever-so-lovingly, NatalieResponse from Mr. LambI'm sorry. It was just too much.There was too much of everything. Imagine taking one of those salad shakers and throwing in religion, homosexuality, incest/rape/molestation, abuse, alcoholism, and racism. Shake it up and dump it out. It is murky. It doesn't taste as good as you thought it would. Yes, people like to read about suffering (and sometimes overcoming said suffering), but this was an overload of suffering. And it wasn't even done in a way that made my heart hurt from all the suffering. The characters were well done although there were too many of them. This wouldn't have been such an issue if they didn't all get chapters (meaning that one chapter is the dad's POV, one is the mom's, etc). I start to get attached to characters when this happens and want them to have their own book. Then I feel cut off and empty when they only get a small portion of the book. I do have to admire Wally Lamb for having this skill, however. This is the reason I wouldn't mind if his books were 2000 pages long. I get very interested in his characters. What disappointed me in this one was that there was not one particular character who stuck out more to me or that will stick with me long term like Dolores Price did.I know I sound like I am nagging a lot, which may be unexpected given that I am giving this four stars. Why so many stars? Wally Lamb is an amazing story teller. As I mentioned, I put him on a pedestal, so for him to get a 5 star rating from me it needs to feel like a ten. He may have verged on corny a few times in this one, but I still appreciate the family bond (and quirks) presented. I like the idea that we may forgive those we love, but that doesn't meant that we won't be shaped by it. I like the reminder that we often romanticize a relationship after it is over. I like the connection of the past to the future. I like the reminder that we (as a country) haven't necessarily come as far as we think we have with race, sexuality, tolerance (we've come a ways but c'mon - we can be MUCH BETTER). I like that there are some beautiful moments but not exactly a fairy tale ending (because let's face it - there usually isn't). Not his best but certainly worth a read. Four Wally loving stars-------------------------------------------------------------------------What?WHAT?!How did I not know Wally Lamb had a new book? This just made my day. Maybe my whole year.Wait a second. It's not out for TWO MORE MONTHS?! NOOOOOOOO!!!I will wait not at all patiently patiently.

  • Judi Anne
    2019-03-08 14:08

    She's Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True and The Hour I First Believed were wonderful masterpieces written by Wally Lamb. I wonder who really wrote his latest book! Surely not the Wally Lamb whose writing I love. I, along with many others, waited so long for him to write another book and I was so disappointed in this one. It rambled all over the place and was just words on many pages saying nothing. The themes and subplots were tedious. The shallow self-absorbed characters who constantly spilled their thoughts on many pages were not at all interesting and there was little dialogue interaction between the characters. I got 100 pages into it and then I started skipping chapters and pages trying to pique my interest. About 2/3 into the book I sadly laid it down. I suppose the characters talking to themselves and the readers is supposed to be artistic, however, I found it extremely boring. Soliloquies worked for Shakespeare, they don't work for Wally Lamb, in my opinion.

  • Jen
    2019-03-19 17:08

    Wally Lamb - you are the master when it comes to storytelling. You manage to gift wrap issues of child abuse, assault, incest, religion, homosexuality, art, biracial relationships into a neat and compact story. I have to admit, a quarter way through I wasn't sure you'd be able to pull it off. This narrative pivots around the wedding of Annie Oh, who leaves her marriage of 27 years to marry another woman. The leading up to that day is done through the perspectives of herself, her ex-husband, her 3 children, a cousin and a few others. How the secrets we keep are self-sabotaging and destructive to relationships. Water is a recurring theme throughout the story - how circumstances change the fluidity of our lives and pulls us into directions that shape and define who we are. I have to admit, I did get protagonist confusion and frustration at some points; however, I plodded on and found I will remain forever a loyal Lamb fan. A solid 4 star read☆

  • Mike
    2019-03-14 11:58

    I knew I didn't love Wally Lamb's newest book not long after I started it. A hundred pages in and I wasn't even sure if I liked it. Two hundred pages in and I wasn't sure if I would even finish it. Well, like a marathon runner, I managed to break through the wall at the 17-mile mark and race to the finish of this one. By the end I liked it enough. It just lacked the magic of Lamb's first two novels, which I absolutely loved. Maybe I'm downgrading it only in comparison to those two, though I have read enough very good books lately to think I'm fairly grading this one.Despite the book jacket promising Lamb presents his material with humor, this is a deadly serious book. It concerns the breakup of a family. Annie and Orion have been married for 27 years when they drift toward divorce, with Annie then entering a lesbian relationship. Lamb bounces back and forth between point-of-view chapters of nearly every character, focusing mostly on Annie, Orion, and their three children. You'll have plenty of reasons to like or hate each character, as all receive an in-depth study. There's even three chapters devoted to an extremely unlikeable person, Annie's pedophile cousin, who spends dozens of pages justifying his actions. Those chapters are certainly tough to read, and I even threw the book down on the floor when another one from his point of view started up. Granted, I was tired and ready for bed at that time, but still.The book is long at 561 pages and very dense. There's lots of backstories metered out through each characters' first-person narration, so blink and you definitely miss something. At the same time, the second half of the book is the Audobon while the first half is a rush-hour drive on the Los Angeles freeway. Though I labored through the first 200 pages, the second half breezed by as the plot picked up and the revelations came fast and furious.Ultimately, though, there were few characters I cherished in this book, unlike Dolores Price in Lamb's "She's Come Undone" and the twin brothers in "I Know This Much Is True." Annie, Orion, their children, and the rest of the characters -- even the pedophile -- are nuanced and thoughtful. But they kind of aren't interesting. That's a lot to put up with through nearly 600 pages.

  • Misty
    2019-03-01 15:04

    Wally Lamb pulls your emotions in so many ways and he continues that with his latest book, “We are Water.” Characters you feel you should hate become more than just black and white; all of a sudden they are tinged with gray. You can’t seem to tell who the bad guys and the good guys are in this story.Ultimately this book tells the tale of outsiders; that society considers to be different from the “norm.” It tells the story of Annie and Orion Oh through their own tales, those of their family and those who shaped their lives. Annie and Orion were married for 20+ years before Annie left Orion for a relationship with her art dealer, who just happened to be a woman. The majority of the book focuses on the time surrounding Annie’s upcoming wedding with Viveca. But it delves in deeper by sharing flashbacks and narratives from their friends and family. By the end you feel as if you know the Ohs and you can’t help experiencing their stories deeply. I think this is Lamb’s most powerful book since “I know this much is true.”

  • Dawn
    2019-03-18 14:00

    "How in the world are we water?" was my first thought when I picked up this book. Other than our bodies being mostly composed of water, Orion discusses with his son, Andrew, how people are like water in that they can be fluid and flexible when needed, or they can be strong and destructive, too. I didn't really expect to dive into this book but that's exactly what happened: I stuck a toe in and found the water so inviting, I backed up, took a long, free run, and dove in. And the water, and the story, was wonderful.The story is mostly about a family, childhood abuse (and the idea/fear of that abuse being passed along within a family), choices made, lives lived, secrets kept and the consequences of keeping those secrets from loved ones, of allowing fear to trump trust. Orion Oh, a psychologist; his wife, Annie; and their three children, twins Ariane and Andrew, and the baby, Marissa are at the core of the story. Annie and Orion tell their story in alternating voices, and the children occasionally speak through a chapter, as well. Annie's cousin Kent tells his story, and a few other voices chime in to make a very good harmony. The reader gets good insight into how each person is feeling, thinking, what he or she has experienced and how it shapes his or her mind and life. Even though the voices change and sometimes a surprise voice is thrown in, the story flows beautifully and is not only easy to follow, it's mesmerizing. I was so immersed in the Oh family's lives that everything else in my life faded out for awhile."We are Water" spans about 50 years of Annie Oh's life. We see how art influences, protects, and heals. Opposite points of view regarding faith, sex and love are explored. Prejudice, on more than one level, and within different time frames, is a prevalent, thought-provoking theme. All threads of the story were woven well into a fascinating, very compelling whole. And although big chunks of the story involve the tragedies, sorrow and pain of the Oh family, the unwavering love of this family seems to prevail. I felt sick, and sad, and worried for the members of this family at various points, but I never felt drowned by negativity or darkness. The family always seemed to glow with perseverance and hope, regardless of what its members were going through, which helped balance what might have been a weighty, depressing story.

  • Kara
    2019-03-15 15:23

    I had never read Wally Lamb's work before I received We Are Water in a Goodreads Giveaway. Talk about a prize! I just finished the book, and I recommend it with great enthusiasm to readers generally with one caveat. Namely, I would warn readers to maintain an emotional release valve when engaging with as intense a novel as this one. This book is a pretty massive tome, even at 576 pages, and sometimes it feels longer. The reader is completely immersed in the characters' respective psyches -- characters at crossroads and under significant stress, who even count sexual abuse victims and perpetrators among their number. There may be places some readers don't want to go; in any case, it can be draining. Unintentionally, I ended up reading a really un-psychological, action-oriented novel alongside this one. I was grateful for something that bore less scrutiny and so had less pull on my emotions and intellect...perhaps some guilty pleasure television would serve many readers well? I am very grateful to have read this book, and I look forward to reading more of Lamb's writing.

  • Gail Strickland
    2019-02-24 12:17

    I don't want to talk about it. Let's just say "Chinese Water Torture" and leave it at that, shall we?

  • Alison
    2019-03-27 12:05

    An intense novel!Annie Oh is a woman who discovered her art later in life, in middle age after her children were born and raised. It gave her an outlet for her emotions, but it also ruined her marriage. Known to many as a quiet, meek woman, her art exhibited a surprisingly angry, manic energy. Where did her anger come from? After 27 years together, and three children, Annie told her husband, Orion, a psychologist, their marriage was over and she was marrying her art dealer, a wealthy, sophisticated Manhattanite, a woman named Viveca. Leading up to the weekend of Annie and Viveca's wedding in Three Rivers, Connecticut (a location familiar to Lamb's audience), readers are given a history of Annie's life and that of the Oh family, changing narrators along the way. The alternating narrators show the mixed reactions to Annie's wedding to Viveca, as well as their own histories. The chapters from Orion's point of view are especially startling as the hidden secrets of his ex-wife's life are revealed to him, shattering what he thought he knew of his own family. The closer to the wedding they get, the more difficult and brutal the secrets are to hear.The characters in We Are Water, are unmistakably Wally Lamb's - flawed, raw, emotional, and real. We want to dislike them, as it would be easier that way. Instead, we are drawn into their story, their past and their present. Lamb slowly reveals the secrets of the Oh family to his readers, as they reveal them to one another. No matter how wrong some of these characters are, I couldn't help but feel sympathy for them. We Are Water is a monster of a book at just under 600 pages, but even with the heavy themes and intense emotional scenes, Wally Lamb has a way of drawing his readers into the pages. Anyone who has read his previous work (She's Come Undone; I Know This Much Is True) understands exactly what I mean by this. Don't be intimidated by the size of the book, the pages will turn quickly!I cannot even begin to share all the different themes surrounding this novel. A book club would need hours, and a good moderator to keep them on track, in order to get through them all. Themes of family, secrets, racism, gay marriage, celebrity, wealth, sexuality, abuse, art, violence, loss, psychology, and forgiveness envelop the chapters.We Are Water is an intensely emotional, gripping unraveling of secrets that rocks a family to its core. Not to be missed!

  • Sandie
    2019-03-24 16:01

    Wally Lamb's latest offering "WE ARE WATER" has more in common with his last novel "THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED" than with his earlier works, which I loved. With WE ARE WATER Lamb has once again used the shotgun approach to his subject matter, firing at a wide range of topics and hoping something would hit the target. This narrative is one that explores everything from homosexuality, sexual predators, failed relationships, gay marriage and the childhood traumas that we carry forward into our adult lives, to revenge, murder, the ills of conservatism, artificial insemination, and the manner in which creativity, art and mental instability are inter-related. There is also a sub-plot exploring the class divisions in the U.S. as well as this countries heritage of racial, sexual and gender inequality. If that sounds like this plate is overflowing, well it is. If you also feel that attempting to digest all of these subjects may lead to indigestion, once again, you may be correct.Utilizing flashbacks the novel retraces the 27 year marriage and break-up of half-Chinese, half-Italian university psychologist and his wife, an artist who creates her "art" from the cast-offs of others, as well as the lives of their three children as all attempt to deal with the painful truths in their individual lives related to the above referenced subject matter.Like water, some of the characters in this book are initially shallow and self absorbed, others pursue lives that are turbulent and dangerous, while still others attempt to just "go with the flow" but find themselves caught up in the current with lives spiraling out of control.A couple of observations and complaints: Item #1 - Once again Lamb has managed to squeeze in a few political comments as he takes some jabs at the previous resident of the White House, praises the current occupant, bemoans the lack of funding for stem cell research, and portrays Texas as a bastion of Christian conservative racists and bigots. Item #2 - The way the book ended. After 512 pages of intricate and in-depth detail the book abruptly jumps to Part V - THREE YEARS LATER - and wraps up in a quick 46 pages. It almost appeared that the author suddenly realized he had written over 500 pages and opted for a quick conclusion OR perhaps he was just attempting to be eco-friendly and was doing his part in saving a tree.

  • Sam
    2019-03-05 20:10

    Like so many people "She's Come Undone" was the first book that truly spoke to me. I was probably 15 or 16 the first time I read it, over a decade later and having reread it countless times it's still as powerful as ever. Then "I Know This Much is True" came along and added to my deep undying love of Wally Lamb's work. "The Hour I First Believed" I only managed to read once because it was so well written, so powerfully realistic that it gave me nightmares. When I came across an advance readers copy of "We are Water" I almost passed out from excitement, however I am not sure that excitement was justified. It's not that this is a bad book or story, the issue is that it is no way on par with Lambs previous work. It is a typical heart wrenching story of a dysfunctional family, but that is where the similarities end. It reads like a soap opera, the pace, the wording, everything. There were only a few moments in the whole book where I felt myself being pulled in to the story. Being sucked in and spit out by the story line is such a hallmark of Lamb's work ,to find that missing from this book was a major disappointment. I'll leave the synopsis to other reviewers, but as a long time fan of his work I needed to share my disappointment in a forum where someone else might understand. Will I reread it in the future, probably. Will I reread it or recommend it with the enthusiasm of his previous work, probably not.

  • Deborah
    2019-03-16 18:57

    This is a very difficult review for me to write. I've thought about it for a couple of days now and wondered if I'd get it down right for you. I've been an avid fan of Wally Lamb's for many, many years and had such excitement when I learned he had a new book out. I rushed to get a copy. I'm sad to say this one was a disappointment to me in some major ways, although I did grasp the over all story and could appreciate what Mr. Lamb's intention was in telling it. (See Summary above)This is first of all a long book that became increasingly a drain to read as I found it less engaging. It was mostly a stream of consciousness novel, and I'm not fond of that writing style (I've never been a James Joyce fan) so the 570 some pages became a torture that I seemed never to make headway on. I began to dread picking the book up. Does this tell you something?While I expected it to be a book that was focused more on the story of a lesbian couple, it really wasn't. It's more a story of a wildly dysfunctional and bleeding family told mostly from the perspective of a wildly dysfunctional psychologist father. Which would have been fine if it were interesting... While the book is divided into chapters/segments written from the minds and voices of the different characters, it weighed heavily on the view of the father of the family, it seemed to me.I found I couldn't feel an affinity with any of these characters. For the most part they were a very whiny and self-serving bunch...self-absorbed in their different psychosis's. It became a downer. It wasn't a pleasant read. While we are given the most minute details of the characters and their personal issues, this was couched in a stream of consciousness that was boring. It clogged things up. There seemed no light at the end of the dark tunnel as life's greatest horror stories were revealed. Just too wordy and dense.I was soundly disappointed. Over the course of his career, I've been an avid reader and follower of Wally Lamb. I feel this one falls short of his other writings. It may be a melting pot of his life experiences, and perhaps his informative times with the women prisoners he's encountered. I have no idea. Maybe it was a story just too close for him to write about successfully.In wrapping up, again, I found "We Are Water" a struggle to get through. I finished it because it was a Wally Lamb book and I really wanted to push my way through it hoping it would get better. Was the story worth it ultimately? Not in my opinion. Would it have been better in another format/writing style? Perhaps.I'm sad to say it was disappointing but not horrible.

  • Leah
    2019-03-14 14:16

    I don't want to be "that person" but I read "She's come undone" before it was on Oprah's book club and it was a firm favourite of mine from the get go. I also loved "I know this much is true" and "The hour I first believed". Lamb's novels were some of the very few saved in the great post-kindle physical book purge. So I was excited about this book. It was an enjoyable enough read. Maybe I have come to expect too much but I almost felt like this was an attempt by someone else to write a Wally Lamb novel. Were the nods to "She's come undone" on purpose, or simply recycled? The child sex abuse, art as redemption, reactive lesbianism, dead sea animals. Jesus I feel like a mean girl even saying it but it, I love the ocean too and find my time there very spiritual but bring it back down a notch with the dead whales and seals Wally. Annie's art reminded me strikingly of Astrid's in White Oleander, former foster child. Annie's secrets, whilst tragic, feels borrowed from True Blood and "She's come undone". Jospehus never really comes to life like the figures from the back stories in his novels usually do. The only really kick arse bit of this novel feels like a footnote. And the re-entrance of JJ's love interest at the end comes to naught. The ending fell flat.

  • Joyce
    2019-02-24 19:02

    What a gorgeous book--and after reading reviews and comments, I think it's perhaps better on audio than print. Great readers--Guidall, Ballerini, Ferrone, Gilbert, Read, and the author himself--read separate sections and become that character, that voice, interpreting other characters and events and adding layers to the story. Organized as it is with sections told be each of the major characters (and their stories intertwine as the characters reappear and reveal more), this is an elegantly written story of families and secrets and memories and how the past affects the present and future. Each telling reveals more, a different past and a slightly different present, reflected through the character's perspective. I didn't realize the author read the part of Orion Oh, the husband/father, until the very end, and he is wonderful. I don't generally believe authors should be allowed to read their own novels, but either he's exceptional, or his sections were broken up enough so that he could sustain the narrative, or, as is often the case for me with memoirs read by the author, his voice perfectly captured character and tone. There are issues too: abuse, racism, lesbian relationships, Christian Fundamentalism. Beautifully written, rich in issues and characters, framed by art, family relationships, memories.

  • Tamsen
    2019-03-04 12:14

    It hurts to give Wally Lamb a two-star review. It also kind of hurts to know that I can't really rave about him now - not with this last Lamb novel I've read hanging over me. I think I have to go read I Know This Much is True just to refresh the palate.Jeez, Wally. What were you thinking? I can't say this didn't have its good moments (this IS Wally Lamb after all) - I especially liked the early chapters from Annie and Orion, as they were reliving their dating days. I'm thinking for others, but as I'm having some trouble, I guess those were the good moments - those two or three chapters right there.The bad though? Overpowering. The Josephus Jones plot and the Oh family plot just never really works together. It seems forced at parts - Lamb has to dig deep to tie these together (oh, so Belinda (view spoiler)[daughter of the man who killed Joseph (hide spoiler)] is Orion's home care nurse? oh, so art judge Angello who awarded Annie's first painting also liked Jones' paintings? oh, so Annie sees Jones the Ghost? -- also wtf?). Other failures - Viveca's and Annie's relationship. Are we supposed to believe that Annie really loves Viveca? It seems like they really should have just stayed friends and gallery owner/artist. Maybe Viveca does love Annie, but it does seem like Annie is using Viveca to take care of her and to sell her paintings.The children also failed on a level for me. On one hand, Lamb does a great job portraying that moment when children realize their parents aren't just parents. Those aha moments are vivid for the children - moments when we realize our parents had lives before us and that they haven't shared who they really are as people. And vice versa, the parents (really just Orion in this case) realizing what their children hide from them - as children and as adults.But - the children. I'm not sure it was necessary to get so deep into their lives. Andrew and the stripper sex? Arianne asking random men in her life to impregnate her? God, that was awkward. Marissa playing hooker with her friend Ebony? And their conversations with their father - especially Arianne telling her father about Marissa's foray into bisexuality. I'm not sure anyone has these conversations with their parents, but even if so, that felt awkward and unreal to me.Maybe this book fails on the overshare - with too many side characters taking residence in the plot. Such as Hector and the maid. And why was Annie engaging so deeply with these people? I guess I'm supposed to feel she wanted to be safe from sharing her secrets (which really weren't that shocking). Who knows.Also, We are Water's format was rather unfortunate. The jumping from character to character - a format I normally adore - seems overworked. It was rather disjointing especially with the secondary side characters, such as Mr. Angello in the beginning (that prologue was the worst Lamb writing I've ever seen), Belinda's mother (I don't even remember her name), and Kent Kelly. These are characters that we really don't even meet until their chapters. The Kent Kelly chapter really threw me for loop - I couldn't remember who he was until six or seven pages in, an this was in Part III of the novel. I could go on and on about how this novel has disappointed me, but I feel like I'm starting to become Annie with the beatings. It's okay Wally, I won't leave you on the side of the road with the coyotes. You know I'll read your next one - but this is a warning. I'll pull this damned car over if I have to.

  • Michelle
    2019-03-15 18:01

    I received a free advance copy of this book from goodreads and was excited to read a new novel by Wally Lamb. At the start, I found the story of Josephus Jones to be very compelling and was curious to learn more about him. I was also intrigued by Annie's back story, the tragedy of the flood that took her mother and baby sister from her life, and the ensuing years that resulted in her time in foster care as well as her decision to leave her marriage of 27 years for a new relationship with a woman. There certainly was no shortfall of content in this novel, however, I only rated the book as ok because I was extremely uncomfortable reading page after page of instances of abuse, racism, and murder. There seemed to be no end to the negative patterns of behavior from one generation to the next, and no real help for the victims or the abusers. It left me feeling a bit hopeless for the human race, except for the very end when Andrew decides to turn himself in to the police. Even that act appears to be more the result of a guilty conscience than true remorse for the crime he committed. There are several extraneous characters that wind themselves throughout this story as well who I found to be inconsequential and bothersome, and their stories a bit contrived. Wally Lamb writes well, but this book, I would not recommend.

  • Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
    2019-03-20 14:00

    Wally Lamb is an incubator. Every five years, or every ten years, and only occasionally at other points in time, does this talented author bless our bookshelves with a new novel. When they arrive, they are gifts. His books, as they always are, are journeys into the human soul and not simply novels. They follow the arc of lives, allow the characters to seep in secrets, touch upon sensitive topics, unfold slowly over the course of hundreds of pages and leave the reader not only drawn into world which he so beautifully writes, but aching because they know they will have to sit and wait while he produces another -- a wait that will feel unforgivably long.In his latest offering WE ARE WATER, as he has in the past novels This Much I Know Is True and The Hour I First Believed, Lamb returns us to quiet town of Three Rivers, Connecticut to bare witness to legacy of the Oh's.Annie Oh is a `angry' artist. Her medium is other peoples trash. Street-found trinkets that -- with nothing more than the creative veins that roils inside her and a loud voice she likens to a cyclone -- she curates into treasures. Treasures that sell for thousands upon thousands of dollars to a fictional client list of not-so-fictional characters. Her life in New York City looks strikingly different from her once humble, erratic beginnings in America's foster care system. She is also a newly minted lesbian and as WE ARE WATER opens, we find Annie stumbling ever closer to her wedding to the woman cultured her vibrant career, Viveca.Orion Oh is trying to hold it together while simultaneously trying to reinvent himself in the third act of his life. His children have grown, his wife-whom he tried to love and understand for the duration of their 27 years together- is no longer his wife but a New York lesbian with a wealthy fiancee he blames for his marriage failing, and his job as a college psychologist has imploded around him after a two-part cataclysm: Lust and distraction. Orion is not trapped solely in the present, his past, too, proves be a divide he cannot overcome as it left him riddled with the shrapnel of estrangement and the hole that always existed in his personal history is one that never quite filled itself up.Annie and Orion's three shared children -- Ariane, Andrew and Marissa -- are as different as they are similar. Each struggles in their own way with change in their personal life -- a wedding, a baby, a fledgling career that requires certain, yet questionable, moral compromises -- as well the change of their parents. One could liken their mid-twenties struggles to the struggles that mid-fifties parents are in the throes of, drawing the conclusion that life, no matter one's age, is little more than a endless loop of choices, chances and possible regrets. Ah, the brilliance of Lamb reveals itself yet again.As the wedding of Annie (or Anna, the name given to her by the highfalutin society of art and prestige she now travels with) and Viveca draws near, so do the individual secrets that members of the Oh tribe have struggled to push away. Secrets and truths, the family must fully acknowledge both to move on...but the secrets they've kept will, in one single moment, lead to new secrets they'll be forced to keep as they try to move forward.WE ARE WATER is an astute, and at times harrowing, novel which begs to be read. Weaving chaotic pasts together with the present, the books delves heavily into many of the social issues we face today - race, class, marriage, parenting, forgiveness, mental illness and homosexuality. The book is not a light read by any means, but an amazing one that asks a reader to set aside all of her preconceived notions and look deeper into the core of where those notions stem from. Very possibly the best book of 2013, add this to you TBR list and move it right to the top.P.S: Lovers of Lamb's first best selling novel She's Come Undone should by close attention as a familiar face appears in this novel (as is almost the status quo for Lamb).

  • Rick
    2019-03-08 17:55

    I just love Wally Lamb! In everything I've read from him, he has such a gorgeous knack for creating real, flawed characters that we can fall in love with (or at least understand, even the worst of them). We Are Water is no exception. It's a beautiful, heart-rending look into what makes a family, what makes art, what makes us human. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll read the final pages slowly because you don't want it to end....

  • Natalie Richards
    2019-03-05 15:09

    I love Wally Lamb`s books; they are so character driven and I always find myself fully absorbed in his writing. Wonderful.

  • Petra
    2019-03-20 16:01

    I listened to the audio of this book and loved it. The voices were perfect for the characters being portrayed. Wally Lamb narrates the part of Orion and it worked wonderfully. I loved this story of family relationships, love and secrets that ripple through the generations. This is a story of a marriage that failed; how and why. And it's more than that; it's family, resilience, strength. I love the title and how it shows the core of this story. We are water in our ability to flow with what life gives us to endure, we float, we could drown, we have no limits. Wally Lamb can write a good story and this is one of them.

  • AliceHeiserman
    2019-03-03 15:11

    Wally Lamb must have received nudging from his agent to turn out another book. This one was not as soulful as his others. Perhaps his topic, a poor woman who becomes rich was not his forte as are downtrodden and jailed people. The protagonist was the victim of childhood sexual abuse and this has permeated every aspect of her life and influenced how she related to her husband and her children. It also impacted her life as an artist. The pedophile who damaged her, her cousin who babysat her, was a slimy character and his reappearance at the end of the book was too predictable and because he was not at all sympathetic as a character, this disturbed my interest in the story. The three children of her marriage were not fully developed--or at least not interesting enough in their own rights to move the narration along. The women the artist married was also not a sympathetic person but a stock type--a rich lesbian who bought her way into love and art. The husband had an interesting back story but this was not fully developed and his late in the novel wounding was again not carefully developed--it seemed gratuitous to the story.

  • Phrynne
    2019-02-25 20:07

    A difficult book to judge. I can understand why many people like it but the ending killed it for me. The book itself actually jogged along quite nicely most of the way. I became quite attached to Orion and sort of understood Annie although I could not condone her child abuse. The chapter written by Kent was so confronting I skipped a lot of it. But then came the awful final chapters. Annie's final act of child abuse in disclosing to the one person she should not have told - ever. And what happens to Orion. Was that even necessary? Was the whole epilogue thing necessary? It left a bad taste in my mouth. So just two stars, one for the first two thirds of the story and one for getting me involved enough that I even cared about what happened.

  • Lyndsay
    2019-03-23 13:19

    I love Wally Lamb, but this was my least favorite of his current four books. :( I felt the story was really unsatisfying - hundreds and hundreds of pages of exposition wrapped up in a 30-ish page conclusion.