We Are Water by Wally Lamb
A Novel

72%

38 Critic Reviews

In his singularly perceptive voice, Lamb immerses his characters and the novel’s readers in powerful moments of hope and redemption and shocking descriptions of violence and abuse.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

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

 

About Wally Lamb

See more books from this Author
Wally Lamb is the author of four previous novels, including the New York Times and national bestseller, The Hour I First Believed and Wishin' and Hopin', a bestselling novella. His first two works of fiction, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, were both number one New York Times bestsellers and selections of Oprah's Book Club. He is the editor of Couldn't Keep It To Myself and I'll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women's prison in Connecticut, where he has been a volunteer facilitator for fifteen years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine. The Lambs are the parents of three sons.
 
Published October 22, 2013 by Harper. 577 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Gay & Lesbian. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Nov 10 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for We Are Water
All: 38 | Positive: 29 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Good
on Oct 03 2013

We all know that life is tangled and messy. Still, in reminding readers of this fact, Lamb turns in a satisfyingly grown-up story, elegantly written.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Nov 04 2013

Lamb seems eager to include many permutations of American identity: Orion is Chinese-Italian, Viveca is Greek–and previously married to an Arab man to boot. A section narrated by a Ku Klux Klansman's widow is unconvincing, torn between racism and apology.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Emma G Keller on Jan 07 2014

A good time to read this book is when it’s freezing outside and there are about four months of winter left. You might be miserable at that prospect, but lose yourself in the Oh family and you’ll realise you’re pretty well-off.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Carol Memmott on Nov 02 2013

In his singularly perceptive voice, Lamb immerses his characters and the novel’s readers in powerful moments of hope and redemption and shocking descriptions of violence and abuse.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on Oct 25 2013

For anyone feeling the squeeze of modern life, Anna’s journey will resonate, helping us all look at our lives with the same expressionistic determination.

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Aparna Sanyal on Nov 01 2013

The reader is numbed. The endless platitudes served up by Lamb’s people promote passivity: “It is what it is”; “A life I didn’t choose chose me.”

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RT Book Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Mandy Boles on Oct 01 2013

Recommended for anyone who enjoys complex novels, Lamb’s latest masterpiece uses every color in his palette to bring a moving story to life.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Sara Vilkomerson on Oct 21 2013

He uses multiple narrative voices with varying degrees of success...Yet despite its occasional unevenness, this family saga is hard to put down.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Nov 06 2013

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.”

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The Boston Globe

Below average
Reviewed by Clea Simon on Nov 19 2013

Internal monologues may not be as patronizing, but they are wildly inconsistent. In Annie’s memories, for example, she switches from childlike descriptions of masturbation to a clinical vocabulary within pages.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Patty Rhule on Oct 19 2013

t's the sign of a good novel when the reader slowly savors the final chapters, both eager to discover the ending and dreading saying goodbye to the characters.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Above average
Reviewed by Alan Johnson on Oct 27 2013

Long-buried family secrets, incest and tragic losses are pushed to the surface, with skillful depictions by Lamb. The many voices and plot layers can make We Are Water somewhat tough going.

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St. Louis Today

Good
Reviewed by Amanda St. Amand on Nov 02 2013

...it’s a satisfying sort of denouement. Lamb picks up the pieces and weaves them back together in a way that leaves readers feeling they are pushing away from the table satisfied — but not stuffed.

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Chicago Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Pearson on Nov 14 2013

"We Are Water" is long, though nowhere near as long as Lamb's previous novels "I Know This Much Is True" or "The Hour I First Believed." It just feels that way. The shifting points of view work with varying degrees of success, and it's often difficult to care for any of these characters.

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New Zealand Woman's Weekly

Good
on Nov 03 2013

We are Water delves into the darkest experiences of humanity in vivid and heart-wrenching detail. This book is Wally Lamb at his finest.

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That's What She Read

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on Oct 10 2013

Exquisitely told, Wally Lamb treats readers to an intricate and vibrant glimpse into a thoroughly modern family during the very dynamic recent past...The characters are rich in detail and vibrate with vitality, while the unearthed secrets and shared drama bridges the gap between book and reader.

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Quick Book Reviews

Above average
on Nov 07 2013

All in all, We Are Water is a rather slow novel that needs to be thoroughly explored and re-read in order to be appreciated to its fullest. If you don’t mind doing a bit of work, I can promise that this book will leave its mark on you.

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Kritters Ramblings

Good
on Oct 28 2013

I enjoyed the amount of coverage each character received and did not for one second think that some things should be cut to make it a little bit more manageable. Although a hefty book, it is worth curling up with and may be a perfect read for the upcoming cold weather!

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Peeking Between the Pages

Above average
on Nov 08 2013

This novel explores many issues and some make it difficult to continue reading. Yet these issues make up the reasons for the dysfunction that is surrounding this family.

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Bibliophile By the Sea

Good
Reviewed by Diane on Nov 20 2013

We Are Water, is very well written, and although it digs deep into the darker side of humans, it's a story that is uplifting as well at times. I was happy to see that the author was able to demonstrates how it is possible to move forward after a painful past.

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Lit and Life

Good
Reviewed by Lisa on Oct 30 2013

Wally Lamb is one of those authors people heap praise on, raving about his writing. He's also one of those writers who, because I'm just that stubborn, I've avoided. Because certainly he can't be that good. He is. At least he is if We Are Water is a good example of what all of his writing is like.

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Book Hooked Blog

Good
Reviewed by Julie G on Nov 11 2013

I definitely recommend reading this if you're a fan of family dramas or of Lamb's other books. It definitely succeeded for me, although it may not be the ideal book for someone looking for lots of action.

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Drey's Library

Good
on Dec 06 2013

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.

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Good Book Fairy

Good
on Nov 12 2013

Part mystery, part romance, part family histories, part secrets with a sad helping of atrocious abuse, this book is a real winner. Well done Wally!

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Alison's Book Marks Blog

Good
Reviewed by Alison Skap on Oct 16 2013

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.

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Maurice on Books

Good
on Oct 22 2013

WE ARE WATER, by Wally Lamb, is an in- depth look inside the 27-year marriage of Orion and Annie Oh. Their ups, their downs, their mysteries. Told in multiple voices, this novel is one of the season’s best.

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Bookin' with Bingo

Good
on Sep 12 2013

As the story comes together and secrets are revealed, I found myself so invested in the narrative that I didn’t mind the time it took to read this book.

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West Metro Mommy

Below average
on Oct 24 2013

There were a few areas where I felt the book fell a little flat. I never really understood why Annie was with Viveca and I wish Lamb had brought us more into the heads of Ariane and Marissa.

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Dolce Bellezza

Good
Reviewed by Bellezza on Nov 13 2013

I liked the way Lamb explored the dynamics of family, the way he took time to give us each character's point of view, and the dialogue which was spot on. It is a beautifully written book which looks at the sorrows we often endure and how we cope with them.

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Entertainment Realm

Below average
Reviewed by Amy Steele on Nov 12 2013

We are Water tends toward too long, too verbose and too wayward. It’s not a page-turner like The Hour I First Believed.

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A Bookish Way of Life

Good
Reviewed by Nadia on Oct 21 2013

Wally Lamb's latest opus is an excellent read. It is an emotional, gripping story about a dysfunctional family and all of their dark, deep secrets.

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Crazy for Books

Good
on Oct 29 2013

We Are Water is highly readable and digs deep into the complexities of our lives and explores the many different ways in which we search for meaning in our lives.

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The Savvy Reader

Excellent
Reviewed by Cory on Dec 06 2013

Who will like this book? Fans of Wally Lamb. Anyone who likes compelling, family dramas driven by character. People who love great stories and don’t mind getting lost in a book and realizing it’s 3am. Lovers of great fiction.

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Lunch

Good
Reviewed by kathypiano on Sep 23 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with The Oh Family and highly recommend "We Are Water" to anyone who appreciates incredible character development while exploring a number of timely social issues.

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Mental Foodie

Good
Reviewed by Christa on Nov 11 2013

The author was able to switch between present and the past easily and you got to know the characters from the little tidbits here and there. I definitely enjoyed the writing. So I am glad that I gave this a try!

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Life As I Know It

Above average
Reviewed by Lisa on Nov 13 2013

There is some very difficult, graphic subject matter in this story – it’s not for the fainthearted, and if you’re looking for a light read, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a story with characters so real that you end up feeling like they’re friends...read this book.

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Cover Me Book Review

Below average
Reviewed by Marion on Nov 18 2013

All in all, this was not a book I liked much and while I did push on until the last page and while the ending was probably fitting, it didn`t leave me satisfied, I really could have cried that a book from an author I so love left me feeling the way I did.

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Writer Grrl Reads

Good
Reviewed by Melissa on Oct 22 2013

All of Lamb's other books have a spot on my favourites shelf, and We Are Water will definitely be taking a place on that shelf as well...this is not a light, fluffy novel, as it deals with some very intense themes, but I absolutely adored the way that the story unfolded.

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Reader Rating for We Are Water
76%

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Patrick Priore

Patrick Priore 6 Dec 2013

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