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
I did not have a childhood like Annie's, thank goodness, but nobody is perfect. This book really made me think about my childhood, and patterns of abuse; where did they start? How can they stop? What is the best way to overcome trauma?
The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars was because I did not feel like it was all that balanced. Especially towards the end. I don't know if the author did this on purpose or not, though.
I will say that you really feel for the characters, and I was able to see a little bit of myself in all of the children. Definitely worth the listen!!
Say something about yourself!
Very engaging sort line, enjoy how the author ties past and present together. Storyline was really good. Only thing I didn't like was the female reader for Anne / Anna - seem to be a bit dramatic when not needed. Wally Lamb did an excellent job as Orion and Kent (he was really creepy sounding). Love Wally Lambs other books.
The narrators- especially the female, sounded overacted and forced.
I was so distracted by the poor narration that I couldn't finish the book.
Audible narration is perfectly suited to Lamb's confessional/therapy session style, especially when the characters are read by seasoned actors and established audible narrators. And that includes the author, as Orion Oh, who is no stranger to book readings and narration.
If you've scrolled down this far you already know the book is good; it will hook you from the start, plunge you into some pretty bumpy uncomfortable territory, but will ultimitely leave you feeling uplifted and healed.
Is it Lamb's best? Probably not, but if you've read the others already and are in the mood to get immersed in a long, leisurely listen, you've come to the right book!
Having read, devoured and otherwise cerebrally ingested Wally Lamb's other books many times over, I was looking forward to "we are water".
I must first point out the book's central oxymoron. Two female protagonists are getting married. How hip with the times. One partner was raised with abuse and with no material nor cultural advantage, and I mean…zip, nada, zilch. She meets her partner by chance at a gallery and then becomes a kept woman. Well, she does supply the art for which her partner becomes wealthy, but how is this any different, except for the fact that the principals are the same gender - than the 1950's version of this same rescue story of a "woman in distress"?
Wally usually takes on highly ambiguous situations with a keen understanding and writes with skillful interpretation, with lots of elegant emotional and geographical description thrown in. However, I cannot say that "we are water" is up to Wally Lamb's standards - at least not as I have come to understand them. The obstacles to my enjoyment of this book are easy to enumerate as follows.
1) "we are water" is all about highly-educated, wealthy elitist characters with "first world" problems. There is a less-advantaged hispanic family thrown in for "diversity" I guess; someone's "help" brought along to assist with the logistics of a wedding, and wordsmith Wally deftly adds their little backstory as just more cumin in the curry.
2) The artist character gets her start by making little Joseph Cornell shadow boxes. I can say that nearly every book I've read where a female artist becomes successful she starts with little Joseph Cornell shadow boxes. Do writers just not know how to describe the visual arts and are incapable of giving the artists in their stories anything to create besides these (becoming trite) mini-scenes?
3) The female protagonists all talk with what I call Piping Rock Lockjaw. Those who've been raised in private schools and country clubs know what I mean. For simplicity's sake - let's just say they talk in that 1950's Hollywood-speak, sounding like Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, but with drawn-out syllables to the "drama". I actually thought the first sentences read by the Anna character - pronounced "Ah-nah" - were part of a parody of snobspeak. Her first scenes were meandering thoughts on "Viveca"'s wedding dress. Just sounded like something out of "The Onion", or "Hyperbole and a Half".
4) I can't stand listening to George Guidall, who always brings to my mind a matronly picture of Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie", wearing a wallpaper-like flowered dress, white gloves, and boxy, capacious purse carried on his/her forearm, sort of like Queen Elizabeth. Add to that the fact that Guidall can't seem to read more than three words without taking a breath and you get a barely endurable Guidall endurance-fest. Not my most pleasant listening experience.
5) The names of the characters are pretentious, snobbish, elitist and non-relateable. "Viveca"?? Really?. "Orion", with his constellation-of-stars reference? The pompous one-letter surname "O"??
I am being harsh, because the shallowness of all these factors derailed for me the devastating emotional issues with which this extended family grappled. And grappled successfully, I thought. The pay dirt is there and is pure Wally Lamb. But this book makes you dig your way through a lot of shallow sandboxes to get there.
Annie was my favorite character. Complex, imperfect.
The best and most sinister was the long lost cousin. His story was the most vivid.
An excellent weave of story that I kept me interested to the very end. Don't miss this one. I really loved the multiple actors in this edition. It was a good choice how to read this book.
We are Water is among the most thought provoking of the audiobooks that I have listened to.
It is difficult to compare We Are Water to many other books because of the unique organization of the story and the narration.
Wally Lamb performing the role of Orion Oh offered tremendous insight into all of the author's feelings about the characters he had created. I loved the author's comments at the end of the book.
Laughed and cried.
Top of my list
Annie's break through
At first I didn't think I would enjoy the different narrators but I ended up loving all of them.
Wally Lamb writes big books. They're long, luscious, complex, layered with flawed characters. Just the kind of book I love to listen on audio. You get so invested in the story and character that if you listen while on your daily walk, you take a longer route so you don't have to stop listening so soon. If you listen while straightening up your house -- your house looks better because of the book. And when you listen in the car, you don't care that there's a lot of stop and go traffic because you are with the Ohs.
And, when you start listening to the third and final download you wish that there was a fourth.
My only surprise is that at the end of the book - Lamb shares with us what "we are water" means as if he didn't trust the readers to figure out out ourselves. I found that a bit out of character - not necessarily disappointed that he shared his thinking but I think a good book club conversation could have come up with that interpretation as well.
Loved the interview with Lamb at the end of the book - it was a joy to hear his writing process - that he doesn't know where the story is going and he lets the story take him there when he is in the zone.
Okay, so now I'll probably have to waiting until 2019 for another book. It will be worth the wait. Lamb is absolutely one of my favorites!
I enjoyed This very much. I like long books to listen too ( get my money's worth) and this fit the bill. On par with his 'She's come undone ' the first book of his I read. Great narration and depth of characters. Covers many of the family members views and goes back to the parents childhood. Very well written and planned.
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