WE ARE WATER
by Wally Lamb
Harper; Oct. 22, 2013
Hardcover; 576 pages
Source: TLC Book Tours
After 27 years of marriage and raising three children, “angry artist” Annie Oh has left her husband and is about to remarry Viveca, the sophisticated Manhattanite who sells Annie’s paintings in her high-end art gallery.
As if Orion, Annie’s psychologist ex-husband, isn’t hurt enough by Annie’s abandonment, Annie and Viveca plan to have their wedding in Three Rivers, CT, the town Orion and Annie had made their home for so many years. The couple’s wedding stirs up mixed reactions among Annie and Orion’s children, as well.
Ariane is the do-gooder oldest daughter who runs a soup kitchen in San Francisco. Andrew, her once-rebellious twin, has found a deep (if judgmental) spirituality with his fiance in Texas. Free-spirited Marissa, the youngest, is trying to make it as an actress in New York. Each of them react differently to the news that their mother is not only remarrying, but is marrying a woman.
As the family gathers for the wedding, each member brings his/her own secrets. Some secrets are new and can be worked out, but others have been festering at the core of the Oh family for years.
In addition to the main storyline, there is a parallel story about an “outsider artist” who died in Three Rivers before Annie and Orion lived there. It adds an interesting historical element to the novel, and I loved the way the two stories are woven together, complementing and building on each other. It also adds to the artistic themes that run through the novel.
I really loved this book. It’s been a while since I’ve read something this long and immersive, and I really enjoyed it. It was also my first Wally Lamb! I can’t compare it to his other novels, but I thought We Are Water was excellent. It’s told in a stream-of-conscious style, and it’s very internal. This book is basically the inner monologues of the characters as they go about their days and think about their lives and relationships. I haven’t read many books like this, but I loved really delving really deep into the heads of these characters. They’re all totally flawed, but Lamb does a great job of portraying even the most messed-up characters with compassion. I was impressed by how real and complex his characters seemed.
We Are Water is a book about the secrets at the depths of families and how it’s impossible to truly know everything about someone. But it’s also about forgiveness and what it means to be a family. As secrets are revealed and new information changes how these characters see each other, they must learn to forgive and understand their family members in a new way. It’s a beautiful novel that dives deep into the events that can shake a person to his or her core and forever alter the way he/she relates to the world. This book goes to a really dark place that I wasn’t expecting, but I liked how it ended.
2013 is nearly over, and I can confidently say We Are Water is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I really loved this novel, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys complex novels that examine family dynamics and delve deep into the psyches of its characters.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.
WE ARE WATER GIVEAWAY
The publishers of this book have kindly offered a copy of We Are Water to give away. Click here to enter via Rafflecopter. Please note that this giveaway is only open to US residents. This giveaway will be open until 12 a.m. Nov. 13. Also, check back on Saturday (Nov. 9) to find out what I’m giving away for the Literary Blog Hop!