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We Are Water: A Novel | [Wally Lamb]

We Are Water: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

We Are Water is a disquieting and ultimately uplifting audiobook about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times best-selling 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.

The complete list of narrators includes Robin Miles and Sandy Rustin.

©2013 Wally Lamb (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1161 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 10-27-13
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 10-27-13 Member Since 2005

    I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lamb writes Fine Literature/What a Book!"

    We Are Water is the story of family, marriage, parenting, love, homosexuality, suicide, death, murder, racism---overt and subtle, wealth and poverty, anger, violence, secrets, ghosts, atheists, religion, the power of prayer, classism, drowning in a flood, physical abuse, pedophilia, disabilities, theft, art, alcoholism, politics---liberal and conservative, trauma, and community.
    Each character in this book has her or his own voice in this story. The voices are braided together making this important novel unique and so special. The author narrates the voice of Orion Oh the patriarch in the book. Unlike some other authors, Mr. Lambs contribution to the narration is perfection.
    Annie and Orion Oh are married and they have three children Ariane, Andrew, and Marissa. Annie is first struggling, then becomes a successful artist. Orion is a psychologist who cannot heal his own family. Annie's traumatic childhood and time in foster care and Orion never knowing his father impacts both parents and their children in profound ways. After over 20 years of marriage they divorce; Annie leaves Orion for a woman.
    The backdrop of this story is the narrative of the short life of Josephus Jones and his brother. These black men are ostracized from and suffer abuse from their Connecticut community. Josephus's brother lives with a Dutch white woman. Josephus is a painter of "outsider art" never receiving recognition for his art until after his violent death. The story of the artist, his death and his art are woven throughout the book.
    Another voice in this book is Kent, Annie's cousin who is a pedophile. This part, hearing Kent's voice and of Annie's abuse is very difficult but is an integral part of this book. I think it very brave of this author to include this peek into the persona and psyche of this man. Fortunately in the afterword the author explains his reasons for including Kent's voice.
    This book touched me in a way few books do. I loved everything about this book; thank you Wally Lamb.

    31 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elena 10-26-13
    Elena 10-26-13 Member Since 2011

    Character, humor, and drama witten with intelligence and heart, from fantasy to non-fiction is what I'm after in a great listen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My Hopes Fulfilled!"

    I waited patiently for the release of this one, and it did not disappoint. The performances are excellent, the characters complex, and the story simply swept me away. Chock full of heart and human frailty.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendi Overland Park, KS, United States 11-10-13
    Wendi Overland Park, KS, United States 11-10-13 Member Since 2011

    Canadian girl in Kansas, love audible, books on kindle or kindle fire, and old fashioned books! I enjoy fiction most, mostly books with strong female leads. Favourite authors: Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb, Pat Conroy, Andre Dubus III, Lisa Genova, many more!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wally Lamb at his Finest.. Again"

    I've always loved Wally Lamb. Ever since 'She's Come Undone' and the story of Delores and her struggle with her family and weight, and then the amazing store 'I Know This Much is True,' I've been hooked on his writing/story telling style. While I sort of thought 'The Hour I First Believed' was a little discombobulated, I pre-ordered 'We Are Water' and looked very much forward to the day of it's release. I listened to the novel, told by several points of view, in a day and a half. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next, and I absolutely loved it and especially loved the narration by Lamb himself.

    Voraciously, I ate up 'We Are Water,' and now I am disappointed that it's over and I have to wait years for Lamb to write another book! The story tells the tale of the Oh family. Patriarch Orien Oh and his wife Anna have raised three children, a set of twins and a younger daughter. After over twenty-five years of marriage Anna decides to leave Orien and marry Viveca, her female lover, and very rich art dealer who has made Anna a success. The book centres around the reactions of the Oh family to Anna making such a shocking decision.

    As with any family, there are a lot of 'Oh' skeletons in their closet. Orien's father really never had anything to do with him. The twins are in a state of constant disarray, one wanting to be artificially inseminated at a young age, and the other turning to God and Jesus to reinforce his feelings about his mother's sexuality. The youngest is struggling to become an actress and Anna herself has had a tortured past. Anna tells her deepest secrets to the listener, like we are her best friend. We are horrified, empathetic, disgusted and at some points, pleasantly entertained.

    All of the characters are due to get together for Anna's wedding however, of course, things go far from the way they are planned. The novel is dramatic, suspenseful, at times laugh-out-loud funny, and it ties together like the perfect bow on a gift. A gift from Wally Lamb.

    5 starts, loved every minute of it. Can't wait for his next book.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Wayne, NJ, United States 11-10-13
    Mary Wayne, NJ, United States 11-10-13 Member Since 2008
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    "I tried!"

    To say this book was a disappointing would be an understatement. I waited so anxiously for the release of this book having loved all his previous works. And I read other reviewers praise it to the hilt! So, thinking it was me, I forged ahead. To hear these characters drone on about the petty details of their lives, hour after hour, complaining and whining...well, the only thing I can compare it to is being subjected to reading hours of people's facebook ,the fabulous sunset, the great dinner and all their other personal, trivial, boring details of their lives. Reading is one of my great joys and life is too short to spend another minute on this. I have decided to put it aside for now, perhaps permanently.

    31 of 34 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 11-02-13
    Linda 11-02-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wally Lamb: omniscient"
    Any additional comments?

    How this author manages to understand how so many different people think is beyond me. His characters so realistically flawed but likable nonetheless. Felt so sad when finished: I will miss the characters but still harbor a hope that its a true story and Ill meet them someday. Still pondering over this interesting story.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 11-23-13
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 11-23-13 Member Since 2012

    Enjoying one good listen after the next!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "We Are Only As Sick As Our Secrets. . ."

    Wow! Wally Lamb has done it again! I've come to accept that this male writer somehow has a deep understanding of the female experience as well as the male . . . although I'll probably never understand how he did so. This book is simply outstanding; perhaps the best book of the year.

    This is a gripping story of a family with secrets that drive them apart and bring them together. It is a difficult read, with child sexual abuse serving as one of the family secrets; and one of the sicknesses, too. That said, it will surely touch a nerve with any reader whose family has experienced violence, abuse, alcoholism, extra-marital affairs, divorce, sibling rivalry or any of many other dysfunctional issues.

    The book uses a series to narrators, chapter by chapter, who are primary characters in the book. While some reviewers have indicated they found problems with some of the readers, I didn't. Each was unique and each, I thought, portrayed the character with great skill.

    In sum, great story, well read. Highly recommended!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    impatti 11-01-13
    impatti 11-01-13 Member Since 2010
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    "just plain WOW!"
    Would you listen to We Are Water again? Why?

    oh yea this was a great book keeps you wanting more. sweet revenge maybe


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie BATON ROUGE, LA, United States 11-05-13
    Natalie BATON ROUGE, LA, United States 11-05-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The readers drove me crazy"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I kept listening because I have loved authors other books. It was really hard because I could not stand the people reading this book!


    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia ventura, CA, United States 11-11-13
    Cynthia ventura, CA, United States 11-11-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not a bad story.Terrible Narration"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes. The Plot twisted around and got slow in parts, but when it sped it up it was compelling.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The Narration was terrible. The Narrators for Annie and Vivica were difficult to listen to. Annie had a sing song cadence and seemed to end each sentence with a question. Vivica sounded like Lovey on Gilligans Island.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    possibly


    Any additional comments?

    The Reader spends quite a lot of time waiting for things to happen and the themes are fairly typical in the end

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 08-06-14
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 08-06-14 Member Since 2005

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful bookclub selection!"

    I started listening to this book and got turned off by the character of Annie Oh after about an hour and quit. My mom read the hard copy and told me to try again. I am so glad that I listened to her. Once I got into the story I was hooked. Wally Lamb is a master at character development. He never shies away from gritty stories and writes such realistic characters its hard to believe they are not real. He must have quite a bit of training in psychology. This story explains how and why the effects of child abuse go on and on for generations - a truly tragic crime. This is not a happy ending story and it leaves you with so much to consider. My bookclub ended up reading it and it was one of our favorites, discussion went on for hours! This is a gem you cannot pass up! The narrators were wonderful and helped keep all the characters defined. Have Wally Lamb narrate the character of Orion Oh, is just perfect and adds so much to the storytelling!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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