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
Overall a good book. But be warned now that the authors description of the pedophile and his behavior is disturbing. It was a struggle to get through these parts and in my personal opinion could have been more subtly portrayed. The fact that it happened is central to the story whereas the details of the act were, once again in my opinion, superfluous.
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!
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.
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.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
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!
I love Wally Lamb, but was terribly disappointed by the narration of this story. The main character, Annie, is over-performed and the reader presents her as bitter and awful. It completely ruined the experience for me. I'm returning the audio and I'm going to read the book instead.
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
What a quick 24 hour listen. I loved listening to this book. I'm sure we have secrets, each and everyone of us but the secrets in, We are Water, will give you the knowledge of what secrets are not supposed to be kept forever. However, there comes a time when a secret must be shared and because when a secret of such portent has been kept forever, the opening of Pandora's box will shatter and change people forever.
The story was excellent, the narrator, the characters, the words, the plot, everything about this book was excellent. I am definitely glad that I listened to the book and I surely would hope that others will also listen
I think that the book will eventually be make into a movie. I will definitely go to see the movie when it hits the theaters.
What moved me most was when Anna confessed her most toxic secret. Anna's secret had been the catalyst that drove her to become the person that she was. Anna and Orion had three children, twins, Ariane and Andrew and their oops daughter, Marissa.
Choosing a favorite character would be tough for me. Each one of the characters were crucial to the story. I think that each played an important part that made the story just perfect for me.
I listened until the book was finished and I couldn't tell you how long it took. Purchase the book and I can only hope that you can enjoy it as much as I did.
This book is extremely deep and emotional and it totally consumed me. It is very well written, very detailed and definitely keeps your interest. It shows the heartbreaking damage of childhood neglect and the influence that has on relationships in their adult lives. There is a small part in the book which touches pretty heavily on child sexual abuse. It was very hard to listen to. Other than that, the book was one of my favorites.
I gave this story an overall 4 only because at times, there was just a bit too much detail and information. The ending went about 2 chapters too long.
Please do not be disheartened by the folks saying this book was too slow.. I had trepidation to begin listening because of that, and I am SO glad I trusted my gut. Amazing storytelling... Huge depth of characters (hence the length), humor, sadness, love disgust.. It all hits you where it counts when you really get to know and care for his characters. What a great novel.. so many tough emotions (some sickening), but truly excellent writing. Explore your boundaries and give this read a chance!
I just finished reading We Are Water by Wally Lamb, and if you haven't read it, wow, just wow. For me it ranks right up there with A Prayer For Owen Meaney by John Irving. It was complicated and complex and layered and well-written. All that and more. It is also has a big layer of depressing, for those of you who don't want to go there. But uplifting in the end. Wally Lamb is not a new author to me. I'll read whatever he writes because whatever he writes is good. I feel comfortable giving this book 5 stars out of 5 and saying this is one of the best books I've ever read. It's about a family - the wife of the family, Annie, is an insider artist who, after she's been married to Orion for 27 years and having 3 children, falls in love with Viveca (a woman!) and leaves Orion. That's just the beginning.
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